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Senior Housing

There are several options to examine when planning future, long-term housing arrangements for those with Alzheimer's. It is important to prepare early, taking into consideration the desires of the person with Alzheimer's disease, the necessary current and future levels of care, as well as location, and budget constraints. Medicare does not cover long-term care, so these types of facilities must be financed through private funds and insurance plans. If these funds are depleted, Medicaid may be used to pay for continued care. Although the cost will fluctuate depending on real estate market trends, location, and the level of services or amenities, long term care is expensive. The entire financial situation needs to be carefully evaluated to determine available resources.

On this page, you will find the following:

Types of Housing

Independent Living or Retirement Communities are for seniors who are generally healthy and able to care for themselves, so they are not usually a long-term solution for those with Alzheimer's. They offer housing with recreational, educational and social activities geared specifically to older people. Meals, housekeeping, transportation and planned activities may also be available. Different communities can have a wide variety of amenities, including golf, tennis, pools and fitness centers. The average cost of these communities ranges from $1300-2500/month, depending on the size of housing, location, services and amenities. Most communities accept only private methods of payment, but there may be some subsidies for low-income individuals.

Assisted Living Facilities offer private apartments with in-house care and social activities for older people. Many have special sections for those with Alzheimer's, and are most appropriate for those in the early to mid stages of the disease, who need some regular assistance short of acute medical care. They can offer a home-like setting, 24-hour staff coverage, housekeeping and meal assistance, therapeutic activities and in-house medical services if needed. Depending on the size and location of housing and the level of care, the cost of assisted living facilities can range from $1,000-6,000/month, with a national average of $2,500-3,000/month.

Life Care Communities or Continuing Care Retirement Communities require a lifetime commitment. They begin as independent living facilities, but offer continued care to residents as they age and their needs change. The person must be able to live independently at first and can then be transferred from an apartment to an affiliated nursing home. Some of these communities have special programs for those with Alzheimer's disease. Normally, there is an entrance fee of between $20,000-400,000, as well as monthly maintenance fees ranging from $400-2,500.

Nursing Homes or Skilled Nursing Facilities offer long term 24-hour care for people with late stage Alzheimer's disease. Many facilities have special sections for Alzheimer's patients. They provide rooms, meals, supervised activities and necessary therapy to residents. Nursing homes must be licensed by the state and certified by Medicare and Medicaid, thus they are subject to strict standards, inspections and evaluations. Medicare does not cover long-term care, so private funds and insurance must cover the cost. Eligibility for Medicaid payment varies from state to state, but is available for those with low income and limited assets, or when resources are exhausted. The average cost of a nursing home falls between $3,000-6,000/month.

Hospice Care is available in the home or in a facility for those with terminal illnesses and six months or less to live. In hospice, residents are treated for comfort, rather than to cure disease and prolong life. Hospices seek to preserve an individual's dignity and the highest quality of life for as long as possible. Medicare covers the cost of hospice care, and it is available to those with Alzheimer's. However, is it underutilized in these cases because it is difficult to determine how long the person will live.

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Choosing a Nursing Home

Many caregivers may be unable to care for loved ones at home who are in the final stage of Alzheimer's disease. While the decision to move the person to a nursing home is extremely difficult, it may be the best option. The wisest choices are made when the transition is planned well in advance. Waiting too long could precipitate a traumatic event and necessitate quick action. Family members should consider the needs and wants of both the person with Alzheimer's as well as the caregiver when choosing a facility. The following may be helpful in deciding on a facility:

  • Gather information on options soon after diagnosis, so that if the need arises, it will be available.
  • Find local facilities and set up an appointment to evaluate the accommodations, activities, programs and services offered; also make unannounced visits.
  • Look closely at staff and their interaction with residents; find out if employees are trained to deal specifically with Alzheimer's.
  • Observe the demeanor of residents and talk to family members.
  • The nursing home should be clean, well lit, free of unpleasant odors and have an acceptable noise level.
  • If the individual is prone to wandering, check on security.
  • Ensure that the nursing home is licensed and certified. Review posted surveys.
  • Carefully review payment options and agreements or contracts.

Find licensed senior housing facilities in your area using our Senior Housing Locator powered by SNAPforSeniors®.

BrightFocus Foundation's link to SNAPforSeniors does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of the senior housing providers, and BrightFocus is not responsible for the content of any referenced website. We believe that the information is reliable; however, we cannot guarantee its accuracy. The search results only provide information and should not be substituted for the advice of a physician or health care professional. In addition, it is very important that families visit the facilities in an effort to determine which one best suits their needs

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Senior Housing

  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities
    Offers advice on finding an accredited rehabilitation facility.

  • Helpguide.org
    “Senior Housing and Care” section of website provides information on long-term care and housing options.

  • seniorDECISION.com
    Offers a list of home healthcare and senior housing options by state and area with consumer ratings and reviews.


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Further Information

There are many helpful organizations that can offer more information on each type of care, how to assess what type is needed for the individual, and evaluating and locating facilities.

A full list of resources for senior housing can be found here.

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Last Review: 04/21/13

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