Independent Living & Aging in Place: Detached Senior Housing

In this article...
  • When considering retirement, many seniors prefer stand-alone homes, either in senior living or their own houses. We look at some of the best available options.
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What Is Detached Senior Housing?

The term "detached housing" simply means stand-alone homes that aren't apartments or condos or otherwise incorporated into a larger structure. For seniors who find themselves coping with chronic health conditions, infirmity or diminished energy as the years go by — and especially for those who find themselves living alone while coping with other challenges — maintaining a stand-alone home can become a challenge, and the proportion of seniors in detached housing tends to decrease with age as a result.

On the other hand, living in a stand-alone home often affords more privacy and a better quality of life than some of the alternatives, and for some seniors, maintaining access to this kind of housing is a priority whenever possible. Here, we explore the best options for retirees who prefer detached senior housing.

Independent Living Facilities

The term "independent living" covers a wide variety of arrangements, from apartment-style living to free-standing detached housing. It's also sometimes called "assisted living." It's the kind of setting built for older adults that is most likely, however, to incorporate detached single-person or couple-friendly housing. Often supporting individualized support and care plans, independent living facilities tend to combine a self-directed lifestyle with a compact community that's easy to get around, supports for health care and activities of daily living, laundry and cleaning services, prepared meals and calendars for social activities, fitness classes and group outings.

There can be very good reasons to go with this option for detached senior housing:

  • Depending on your state, there may be financial support specific to independent living offered through your state's health care services or through the local Veterans Affairs Offices, and there are often a variety of local nonprofits that help with accessing that kind of support.
  • Independent living is generally designed to offer privacy and an enjoyable, dignified lifestyle while easing the burdens of property upkeep and financing that come with a normal stand-alone home. Often, independent living units are part of communities that offer a spectrum of care designed to support couples in close proximity who might wind up needing different kinds of long-term care as time passes.

Aging in Place

Another kind of long-term care option that's becoming increasingly popular is called "aging in place." It's not uncommon for older adults to want to stay in their own homes in their later years. Familiar surroundings, faces and memories can do a lot to make the process of aging easier to deal with even when chronic health conditions or other challenges come calling.

Aging at home can still involve the need for plenty of support. The good news is that aging in place isn't just popular with seniors. It also tends to be popular with governments, and there are plenty of state governments that will specifically provide financial support for aging-in-place services and the associated maintenance of detached senior housing where they won't directly support assisted or independent living in a facility. The kinds of support available to seniors aging in place can include:

  • Health care support
  • Household chores
  • Meals
  • Money management
  • Transportation

There are also very often local volunteer organizations and senior centers that offer social activity schedules, companionship services, support for activities like shopping and help with home maintenance. Contacting a local Area Agency on Aging is often the most helpful first step in accessing such resources and making sure you're dealing with reputable community actors.

Downsizing Decisions for Seniors: Weighing All the Options

Staying in detached senior housing may seem like the most attractive option, but there may also be factors to recommend various kinds of apartment- and condo-style living. A lot comes down to the specifics of the available facilities and the companies running them, and companies with a reputation for dealing responsibly with dangerous health variables, such as COVID-19, are of particular value. It's always a good idea to survey the options thoroughly before coming to a decision on independent living or aging in place options.