Untangling the Senior Housing Maze

 Guest Writer: Alice Kalso

 Silver Age Housing & Care Referrals



Look in a directory of senior housing and care options, and you may get lost in the words. There are so many options, it’s a little like a toddler in a 31-flavor ice cream store. The good news is that there’s an abundance of help for you or your loved ones, whether you’re looking for the future, or for next week. Let’s review some of the options:

IN HOME HELP – Home care agencies provide a gamut of services, from housekeeping, home maintenance and yard care, to companionship and help with personal care, such as bathing and dressing. This help starts at about $30 an hour, and works if the senior has scheduled needs. Many agencies have a four-hour minimum.

RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES – Meals, housekeeping, activities and transportation are routinely offered as part of the monthly fee, ranging between $2000 and $5000. If seniors need help with bathing, dressing or medications, they typically contract with a home care agency. Generally, residents are younger, active seniors. In many cases, when needs increase, another move is needed.

ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITIES – In addition to services of a retirement community, assisted living communities provide 24-hour emergency and personal care help. Some are premised on a social model, emphasizing activities and others on a medical model, offering very heavy care. In many states, including Washington, assisted living communities can perform duties that once were only available in a nursing home, such as two-person transfers (when someone needs two people to get him or her out of bed or out of a chair), and diabetic insulin care. Approximate monthly costs range between $3000 and $7000 plus extra charges for care. Care fees vary widely.

RETIREMENT/ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITIES – This type of community is a combination of the two previous options, allowing residents to move in when they are still quite independent and “age in place,” receiving more services as their needs grow.

CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES – These offer various levels of care on one campus. They often require an entrance fee of anywhere from about $300,000 to over a million dollars. Some entrance fees are wholly or partially refundable. Monthly fees are usually lower than in a rental retirement community. Seniors moving in are generally younger and more active. As their needs change, they can move to other parts of the community for assisted living and nursing care. Often there are medical and financial qualifiers for admission.

MEMORY CARE – Some assisted living communities have a special section for residents with moderate to severe memory issues. Other communities serve only people with dementia. Memory care starts at about $5000 but increases substantially as the needs grow.

ADULT FAMILY HOME – This type of care is not available throughout the nation. In Washington State, these homes can serve at most six residents. Usually two caregivers are on site to provide care. Adult family homes can offer virtually every type of care provided by a nursing home, with the exception of IVs and ventilators. Because the house is small, this setting is particularly good for those who need 24-hour direct supervision. Adult family homes range from $5500 to $8000 a month and more.

Hopefully, this brief overview helps to provide a bit of direction as you navigate the senior housing maze! If you need help, Silver Age Housing & Care Referrals would be delighted to speak with you. You can reach out to us directly at 206-669-7191 or info@silveragecare.com or connect with Soundmark Wealth for an introduction.


Silver Age helps seniors and their families locate trusted senior care providers when living at home is no longer an option. Our comprehensive knowledge of senior care options extends from Mill Creek to Maple Valley. Our goal is to make senior housing and care easy to understand, and make sure there are no surprises surrounding this big decision.

Communication is key to the process. We take the time needed to listen closely to the specific needs and desires of seniors and their families. Families come to us with a variety of needs, timelines, and financial abilities. We outline their best options for today and help them plan ahead for the unknowns of tomorrow.

Our personalized service, including transportation to and from tours of housing options, is typically offered at no cost (except when considering some Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)).

We are available to visit you in your home or another location of your choice. If you or someone you love is searching for senior care, we would be honored to join you, and support you every step of the way.