A retirement home is one of many housing options available to older adults, generally 55 years or older. In a retirement home, each person or couple lives in an apartment-style room or suite of rooms generally consisting of a living area, one or more bedrooms, one or more bathrooms and a small kitchen or kitchenette. Studio apartments with combined living area, bedroom and kitchenette may also be available.
Additional amenities and services are provided within each privately-owned facility which may include communal dining, some form of healthcare services, scheduled recreational activities, spa services, hairdresser services, transportation, and much more. Amenities and services vary from location to location. In short, a retirement home is a place where older adults live and receive onsite care and support.
Each senior has a unique set of needs, wants and desires. Various types of retirement homes offer many different opportunities to meet those needs.
Faith-Based or Religious-Based Retirement Homes
Many people find the support of those of like-minded faith comforting, especially as they get older.
According to a poll generated by the Pew Research Center in 2010, religion is very important to older adults:
- At least 84% consider themselves to be Christian
- 53% attend weekly church services
- 68% pray on a daily basis
- 43% read scripture on a daily basis
- 69% believe religion is “very important”
- 77% believe in the existence of God
For those people whose faith plays a significant role in their lives, a faith-based or religious-based retirement home may better meet their needs. Fortunately, there are many faith- or religion-based facilities providing such care, including:
- Jehovah's Witness
Faith-based communities offer a built-in support system for its residents. When you're under the weather, they call to see if you need anything. Someone is willing to run errands with or for you. They are there to offer the support you need, whether spiritual, emotional or physical.
Provider Specific Retirement Housing
There are various communities which provide retirement homes for older adults. These include:
- With more than 320 communities throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, Sunrise Senior Living has provided care to seniors for more than 35 years, encouraging independence, preserving dignity and enabling freedom of choice.
- After a merger with Emeritus Senior Living in 2014, Brookdale Senior Living became the largest owner-operator of senior living communities in the United States with more than 1,100 communities. Brookdale strives to blend the unique spirit of each community with its residents through is award-winning evidence-based programming providing a customized, supportive and empowered living experience for each resident.
- With more than 260 communities, the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society is the largest not-for-profit senior care provider in the United States. The Good Samaritan Society, a Christian organization, serves people of all faiths, beliefs and backgrounds. Their goal is to help each resident find a place where they can feel at home and discover a deeper, more meaningful value in life, living with passion and purpose.
- Oakmont Senior Living, with more than 40 retirement communities, is a nationally recognized leader in the development and construction of high-end senior communities in the western United States. Their goal is to make each resident's dream of retirement a reality.
Masonic Retirement Homes
Although originally established to serve those having an association with Freemasonry, many of today's Masonic senior living facilities have opened their doors to non-Masonic members, but this varies from location to location. Generally, non-Masons (the general public) have less priority than Masons and their family members (waiting lists can be long) and they do not receive the discounts provided to Masons and their families.
Veteran Retirement Homes
Although many veterans opt to live among the general population, some choose to live in communities that cater to Veterans, sometimes exclusively. State veteran retirement homes provide housing to low-income veterans and veterans who want to spend their remaining years with “comrades” in arms. Although they may offer assisted living or a form of supported independent living, they predominately provide nursing home care. Most states have one or more state-operated veterans retirement homes, often referred to as VA homes. These homes are licensed by the state and must provide comparable services to those offered by private sector equivalents.
Eligibility factors determine a veterans ability to reside in a VA retirement home. These factors include age, military rank and status, criminal history and physical and mental health at time of admission.
Two non-VA Federal Retirement Homes run by Armed Forces Retirement Homes, one in Washington D.C. and one in Gulfport, Mississippi, also provide housing to all branches of the military. Being a Continuing Care Retirement Community, these homes have additional eligibility requirements.
Examples of Qualified Veteran Branches include:
- United States Army
- United States Navy
- United States Air Force
- The United States Marine Corps
- United States Coast Guard
- The United States Public Health
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Luxury Retirement Homes
Luxury retirement homes provide various levels and types of luxury. Each person's definition of luxury varies. For some, it can be a place, such as a home with a view of the ocean. For others, it's being surrounded by luxurious furnishings, appointments and amenities, such as chauffeur-driven transportation or concierge services. Luxury retirement homes offer their residents a luxurious place to live and a more than comfortable place to return to after chasing all the other dreams you've had for retirement.
Buying vs Renting a Retirement Home
Although buying may not always be an option, especially in facilities such as assisted living communities, you may want to weigh your options before making a final decision. There are many hidden costs to home ownership, from taxes and insurance to having to fix a leaky roof.
Before looking at a specific retirement home or community, it's best to look at the big picture. Consider the following:
- What kind of budget do you have for renting or owning, after subtracting taxes?
- How do you view your home? Is it a potential investment opportunity or is it just another budget line item?
- Do you have excess monies to cover the unexpected financial risks of maintaining a property, such as a leaky roof or the need to purchase a new appliance?
The answers to these questions will bring you closer to knowing whether it's better for you to rent or purchase a retirement home.
When trying to decide ownership versus renting, you'll need to determine how much money you're willing to spend after subtracting taxes, since mortgage interest and property taxes are tax deductible on a primary residence. Rental costs are not tax deductible. Once you've determined your budget, you narrow your search to homes that fit within that budget, rental or owned, keeping in mind that ownership will entail additional monies for maintenance expenses and insurance deductibles. You'll also need to plan for inflation. A fixed income will still need to cover the costs even when rent, taxes and insurance costs increase over time.
As you analyze your situation remember that retirement is supposed to be carefree and enjoyable. In the end, you should only undertake the risks and costs that will allow you to sleep well at night.
Paying for and Cost of Retirement Homes
A retirement home may be paid for as a rental, like an apartment, or can be purchased on the same basis as a condominium.
According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), one-third of all older adults experience difficulties locating a place to live. In fact, 63% are dependent on Social Security, friends, relatives or charity. Because of this, subsidized senior housing is available making it possible for individuals with low incomes to find a home in government-sanctioned housing.
The average cost of care in a retirement home varies from city to city and state to state and is impacted by several other options including:
- Amenities provided
- Services offered
- Private vs semi-private accommodations
- Meal plans/options
- Type of care, ranging from independent living to memory care
According to the 2017 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of care is approximately $3,750. Because memory care requires a unique set of care needs, such as 24-hour supervision, it runs substantially higher averaging $5,000 per month but can run as high as $7,000.
Many Masonic retirement homes offer financial assistance programs to those who qualify. Some examples of these programs include the Masonic Advantage Program, the Benevolent Financial Assistance Program and the Masonic Financial Assistance Program.
Veterans have a number of financial assistance options available to them including, non-profit Veterans Angels, Aid and Attendance Program, VA Pension and the Housebound Benefit. These programs each have certain eligibility requirements. For questions concerning these programs, veterans should contact their VA regional office or online using the VA's Veterans On-Line Application website using Form 21-526, the Veteran's Application for Compensation and Pension.