Finding the perfect living situation for the senior in your life can be very challenging. As seniors get older, they may need some help to complete tasks in their day-to-day life, but still want to live independently and enjoy their favorite activities. Congregate housing is an interesting and effective lifestyle choice for many seniors. You may want to know - "how do I find congregate housing, living & care near me?" Here’s everything you need to know about congregate living facilities and how to locate congregate housing and care in your area.
What is congregate housing?
Congregate living facilities are somewhat similar to independent senior living facilities, but are slightly different in a few important ways. In congregate housing, each senior or senior couple has their own individual apartment, but there are also communal areas and each person contributes to the community by doing things such as gardening or cooking with other residents. The residents also may plan activities together to develop social bonds and explore new activities together. Congregate care facilities are typically partially or entirely subsidized, which is very different from most other senior living options, which are very expensive. Many congregate living facilities also offer medical care on-site, which independent senior living facilities do not offer. The medical services offered in congregate housing may range from general assisted living to more specialized skilled nursing or memory care. However, extensive medical care in a congregate living space is the exception rather than the rule, and these living spaces are generally intended for seniors who are mostly self-sufficient. Congregate living facilities can be somewhat difficult to find, but if you can locate one in your area, it could be a great fit for your loved one.
Is congregate living a good fit for me?
Congregate living is a particularly good option for seniors who prefer lots of social interaction and activity in their day. Many seniors struggle with the transition from working in a career and caring for a family to the relative calm of retirement, and have difficulty developing a routine. The social interactions required in a congregate housing complex are the perfect way to mitigate the loneliness and boredom that some seniors experience upon transitioning into a senior living facility. Congregate living is also a good fit for seniors who need some medical care on-site, but still want to live in a lively, communal atmosphere.
Congregate housing is also a very good choice for seniors who would like to live in a housing community designed for them and receive additional support and resources, but can’t afford to live in a more expensive complex. One of the biggest challenges of finding an appropriate senior living facility for many people is the exorbitant costs that can come along with finding a good apartment or nursing home with the amenities you need. Congregate living is a good way to deal with this, because the housing costs are partially or entirely subsidized. Some locations do have requirements with how many tasks you need to help with around the community for your living to be entirely subsidized.
What should I look for in a congregate care facility?
There are many important things to look for in a good congregate care facility. The first thing to take a look at is the senior living apartments themselves. They should be comfortable and safe to live in, and should be designed with seniors’ needs in mind. For example, there should be an elevator in addition to stairs, and the stairs and any ramps should have handrails. The hallways should be properly lit for safety. The apartments themselves should be large enough to live in comfortably, and there should be options available for both singles and couples. Many congregate living facilities do allow pets, so this is something to look for if you want to take your cat or dog with you. The building should be in good condition and should not need any major repair. The congregate living apartments should also offer access to laundry facilities as well as a kitchen that’s equipped with basic cooking tools such as a fridge, a stove, and an oven.
The next thing to look at is the communal living activities and services available. Many congregate housing communities will require you to participate in some sort of daily tasks to keep the building in good shape and help other residents. It’s important to find out what will be required of you and determine whether or not these expectations are realistic. The social activities offered in the congregate care facility can also be a major plus for seniors who are transitioning into retirement and are looking for things to do. Many congregate communities organize regular field trips to local places of interest, or offer regular exercise classes or game nights. Some congregate living facilities even have features like gyms or entertainment rooms on site. The culture of the facility is also very important to look at, since you’ll be interacting frequently with the other residents. It’s important to make sure you feel comfortable there - hopefully you’ll even make some new friends.
You’ll also want to consider the location of the congregate living facility. Will you be able to find congregate living near you and stay close to family and friends? Is it easy for your family and friends to come visit you there? While you’ll be developing relationships with other people who are living with you, you’ll also want to maintain the relationships you already have with your loved ones. It’s also important to make sure the congregate housing facility is close to other places you might need to go, such as your grocery store and your doctor’s office. Many congregate living facilities organize carpools to run errands, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to make sure you have a parking space and can easily use your car while living there, or check to be sure there’s adequate public transportation available.
Finally, it’s important to find a congregate living facility that fits in your budget. Since congregate living is usually subsidized at least to a certain extent, so it’s not typically too difficult to find an option that you can afford. Just keep in mind that you normally have to fit within certain income and financial requirements to qualify for congregate living. You’ll also want to find out the congregate community handles setting up leases before you move in. Do you have to commit to an entire year or longer before you move in? What’s the process if you decide you want to move out? Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time will make the decision of transitioning into congregate housing easier.
What are the benefits of congregate housing?
There are many benefits of congregate housing for seniors. The first is that it’s very affordable. After reaching retirement, many seniors struggle with budgeting and living on a fixed income each month. Congregate housing is partially or entirely subsidized, so you don’t have to stress about paying high living fees each month.
Another benefit of congregate housing is it’s an easy way for seniors to live in a community that provides support and resources while still maintaining their independence. Many seniors are reluctant to move into 55+ senior communities because they fear they will lose their autonomy, but congregate housing encourages seniors to be self-sufficient. The apartments are very private and comfortable, but there’s access to resources for seniors that need them. Living with other seniors is also safer, because there are people around in case your senior experiences an emergency or needs help with something.
Seniors can also benefit from living in such a social, communal environment. Congregate living promotes teamwork and making friends, which is something that can be difficult for seniors as they get older. Having so many activities readily accessible is great for seniors because it keeps them engaged, creates a routine, and prevents them from getting lonely. It also encourages seniors to spend time outside and stay active, which is very important for preventing illness and maintaining good mental health.
Congregate housing can also be beneficial for seniors’ families as well. Having seniors living with you can be overwhelming, but many families can’t afford to pay for their parents or other family members to go to a more expensive or luxurious senior care facility. Congregate living is affordable, and you can rest assured knowing your family members are living in a safe, healthy environment. Congregate housing also makes it very easy for you to visit your family members and maintain a close bond with them.
What are the downsides of congregate living?
There are a few downsides of congregate living. The main one is that there’s typically not much medical assistance available on-site, if there’s any at all. This can be challenging for seniors if they develop health problems or need assistance with daily tasks. Some congregate living spaces do offer assisted living or medical help on site, but these tend to be the exception rather than the rule. If you need regular assistance with daily tasks, Alzheimer’s or dementia care, or you think you will need frequent medical assistance in the future, it may be helpful to look for a different living facility such as a nursing home where this type of assistance is available.
The other downside to congregate living is that it may be overwhelming for some seniors to have to contribute to the communal well-being every day and be part of this more social community. While it’s usually a benefit for seniors to step out of their shell a bit and explore new activities, it’s important that these things are manageable on an emotional level. The transition into retirement and into living somewhere new is already quite overwhelming, so it’s important that seniors have the level of privacy they need. If your senior struggles with transitions or social situations, you may want to look into individualized at-home care instead of moving them into a new facility.
How can I talk to my loved one about congregate housing?
It can be challenging to talk to the senior in your life about congregate housing, particularly if they’re resistant to moving out of a home that they’ve lived in for decades, or if they want to stay closer to you as their family member. A good way to bring this up is to talk about how congregate living can provide them with things to do every day, and they’ll get to stay independent and continue doing the things they love in a more affordable housing situation. Pointing out the positives of congregate living and making it clear that congregate living is different from a nursing home is a good way to make sure your loved one is on board with the change.
It’s also important that you’re not making the decision for the senior in your life about where they’re going to live, but instead working with them to determine what would be the best fit. They should be present in all the conversations you have with staff at potential living facilities, and they should be able to tour the congregate housing facility and decide how they feel about it and if they want to live there. It’s very important that seniors are able to maintain some autonomy over their living situation, even as they age.
How can I find a congregate living facility near me?
Finding congregate housing near you can be somewhat challenging, since they aren’t the most common form of senior living. The first step would be to call a local government housing office in your area, since congregate living is typically subsidized by the government. They can point you in the right direction and help you get started. There are also many online directories that specialize in senior living options – and you can use the directory we have at SeniorLivingHelp.org to find congregate living facilities in your area. You can search for congregate living facilities and then narrow that search result down by location. Calling a local senior community center is another good way to find living options for seniors in your area. Since congregate living isn’t the most popular form of senior housing, you may have to look out of your immediate metro area to find a congregate housing provider that meets your needs.