Thursday, June 20, 2013

Advantages of Senior Apartments

A few weeks ago, a Baby Boomer friend of mine moved his mother into a senior apartment.  Her husband had recently died and the 83 year old woman was no longer able to keep up the home where she lived, either physically or financially.  My friend checked out a variety of housing options before deciding on a senior apartment complex.  His mother did not need a nursing home and she could not afford to move into a luxurious over-55 retirement community.  He was able to locate a senior apartment complex for her in a safe, desirable suburban community in Orange County, California, within a 20 minute drive of all three of her adult children, and his mother was delighted with the selection.  Now that she has been living there for a few weeks, my friend told me that his mother has made friends, begun to participate in the weekly Bingo games in the community center, and has started taking classes at the nearby senior center.

Senior Apartment Advantages

Why should you choose a senior apartment rather than an apartment complex that is open to people of all ages?  One of the major advantages with senior apartments is that the residences are typically safer for the elderly than those that are open to the general public.  For example, apartments for seniors are more likely to be designed with accident prevention in mind.  Residents are less likely to have to deal with poorly lit or uneven walkways.  Multi-story buildings have elevators.  The bathrooms typically have grip bars.  Even in high rise and mid-rise buildings, the residences are normally on one level and often have wider doorways and similar design changes that could allow for wheelchair access should that become necessary in the future.

There is one more reason why senior apartments are safer for the residents.  Crime is extremely low in these communities.  The elderly are significantly more likely to be victims of crime when they live in mixed age housing where a few predators may see them as easy prey.  Senior complexes often have limited access entries, monitored lobbies and other layers of protection.

In addition to safety, there are other reasons why these complexes are preferable.  They are often built near shopping centers, medical facilities and senior centers.  They usually offer a variety of clubs, activities and age-appropriate exercise classes.   Older adults may feel more comfortable getting into a swimming pool or taking a yoga class when they are with other people their own age.  The facilities frequently organize parties and other social events, so that elderly residents are less likely to suffer from loneliness and depression.  Many of them have exercise rooms and some, especially in colder climates, even have indoor pools.

Another advantage for residents is that special services for senior citizens, such as trips, classes, or tax preparation assistance, are often provided to the residents of these complexes.  Elderly people who live in other communities may not be aware of these services, or they may not have the available transportation to access them.  It is not unusual for retirees who live in more diverse neighborhoods to be isolated from the programs that could help them.

The majority of senior apartments are designed for independent living and have their own kitchens.  It is rare for the complexes to serve meals since they are not nursing homes or assisted living residences.  On the other hand, a nearby senior center may serve low-cost meals, particularly at lunchtime, for those who wish to purchase them.  Some seniors may also be eligible to receive services from Meals on Wheels. 

Availability of These Residences

Senior apartments are located throughout the United States in virtually every city and large town.  They are more difficult to find in small towns and rural areas, although a few do exist.  Another concern is that many of these complexes have long waiting lists.  Here in Orange County, California, I have known of individuals who had to wait six months or longer in order to get into one.  However, everyone I know was eventually able to successfully secure an appropriate residence, though sometimes they were not able to get into their first choice.

The best way to get on the waiting list is to visit a over-55, age-restricted complex in your area and discuss availability.  If there is a waiting list, or if they are eligible for the government voucher program for low-income seniors, the management can connect you with the housing authority in your state.  For example, in California there is a website at: where you can find available senior housing and learn how to get on the waiting lists for the properties that interest you.  Other states will have similar online registries.

What If Someone Needs Extra Care?

Residents of senior communities often find it easy to find caregivers and access extra help, when needed.  For example, if a person has hip replacement surgery or becomes injured, it may be possible to temporarily share a caregiver with a neighbor, or at least get a good recommendation to help you find a person who has worked with other residents of the community.  Neighbors often reach out to each other in these communities, as well.

What About the Cost?

There are a variety of types of apartment complexes for older Americans.  Many of them will accept government vouchers that are available to low income seniors.  This can be a life saver for the average Social Security recipient who only receives about $1200 to $1300 in benefits.  While many normal complexes also accept Section 8 vouchers, there are far more amenities available for retirees in residences that have been designed especially for them.

If you are interested in reading more about places to retire or other retirement information, check out the index articles below.  Each one contains a little general information as well as links to a number of helpful articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of apartment complex courtesy of


  1. You make an excellent case for senior apartments. Safety is a major concern for many boomers.

  2. I appreciate your great work about seniors living house. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Unlimited Possibilities Family Care Home

  3. My parents are thinking about moving into senior housing in Seattle soon. What are the differences or advantages over a retirement or nursing home?


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