Seniors frequently have very particular needs and issues related to housing. Many issues that arise over the course of the aging process relate to the ability of older persons to have safe and accessible shelter that meets their medical, financial, and social needs.
Many seniors may begin to see problems related to the maintenance and upkeep of their homes that they were once able to do, but now present new challenges. From basic lawn care, to complex home modifications for wheelchair usage, these issues are specific to each individual and change over the course of time. An entire industry of products and services are increasingly tailored to the senior market as more and more seniors age in place. Home improvement referrals are available from a variety of sources, but seniors should take care to protect themselves by requesting references of similar jobs, getting all aspects of the service covered in a written contract, and paying all companies/contractors based on satisfactory completion of pre-agreed milestones rather than upfront. Increasingly as individuals opt to remain in their own homes as long as possible, aging in place requires other supportive aids like in-home caregivers, delivered prepared meals or medical alert systems.
Seniors also face unique issues when they are renters. Though protections like the Fair Housing Act apply to seniors, they may have such problems as obtaining leases based on reduced credit-worthiness after retirement or barriers to renting in safe neighborhoods within their price-range. Multi-faceted causes such as needing to reduce expenses after retiring on a fixed-income, becoming isolated after losing the ability to drive, or an inability to keep up with home maintenance induce many seniors to downsize from single-family homes to senior apartments and communities or public housing facilities. When renting, seniors must be informed of their rights as related to fair housing and the prohibition on age discrimination, as well as more general knowledge about their rights and responsibilities as renters.
Sometimes individuals may need more care than is possible in a home setting, and will often turn to alternative housing options including retirement communities, assisted living residences, and nursing care facilities. These facilities can provide assistance with minor tasks such as medication reminders and transportation all the way up to intensive medical rehabilitation and 24-hour care. Seniors and their caregivers should always tour facilities before moving in, including speaking with other residents and staff, as well as reviewing the facility’s licensure and incident reports from the appropriate local and state government agencies, and have a written care-plan that is updated every 3-6 months.
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