Traditional senior living facilities, especially nursing homes, are falling in popularity as alternative care models become available. Today, seniors have more options for how they want to live, and some of them, like Florida newcomer Room2Care may prove major disruptors in the senior housing space.
Why Seniors Don’t Want Traditional Senior Living Facilities
There are two main reasons why seniors are looking for options beyond nursing homes — price and independence.
Nursing homes are expensive
Cost is a huge factor in the senior living decision-making process. Although families want to give their loved ones the best care possible, that care is coming at an increasingly high price. A room in a nursing home can cost more than $6000 per month, which many people simply can’t afford.
Seniors want to keep their independence
Money only covers the financial cost of living in a nursing home, but what about the emotional cost? Most seniors are not ready to give up their independence, and surveys have found that 89 percent want to age in place.
Alternative Senior Care Models
Senior care isn’t an all-or-nothing deal, and new, non-traditional options fall on a spectrum between home and nursing home.
Independent Living Communities
On the “more like home” side, independent living communities, also called retirement communities, are gaining immense popularity. For the past two years, The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, has been the fastest-growing city in the United States. Today, more than 110,000 seniors call The Villages home.
Assisted Living Communities
For seniors who need more care, but still wish to retain their independence, assisted living is the number one choice. A recent National Council on Aging study found that 48% of seniors would choose assisted living if they could no longer care for themselves, compared to 40% who would look for help from the community and only 36% who would consider moving in with family.
An even more radical form of non-traditional housing is shared housing, in which seniors who don’t require a high level of care live together for mutual caregiving and companionship. According to the National Shared Housing Initiative, shared housing has myriad benefits:
- Seniors can turn extra rooms in their house into extra income.
- Seniors who need affordable housing can find it.
- Families experience less financial and caregiving pressure.
Recently, a new shared option burst onto the scene. Room2Care is a new website that allows seniors who need housing to connect with people who have extra room, similar to how AirBnB connects travelers with places to stay.
In addition to a place to live, the hosts will eventually provide services like drug delivery, transportation, and meal services. CEO Todd Florin says that the company runs background checks on all of the hosts and that it is specifically looking for people who have healthcare experience but who are currently unemployed or underemployed.
It remains to be seen how well this model will work (it is currently only available in Florida), but if it is successful it could prove a major shift in how we approach long-term care.