Is It Time to Transition to Senior Housing?

While we can’t tell you when the right time might be to transition into some sort of senior care. And you as a child or other caregiver probably can’t tell your senior that it’s time to transition into senior housing. We can help you when it comes to getting the house sold – either with an “as-is” cash offer or our real estate brokerage Realty Resource can assist with a traditional listing.

But we have learned over the years a few things about what triggers a need for a transition and we have some resources to help you research options.

Common Signs that It’s Time to Transition to Senior Care

The late, great Gene Guarino who was one of the nation’s biggest advocates for senior care in residential assisted living communities made the video below that explains the signs well:

The Three Signs:

An Event: This usually involved mom or dad having a fall and the doctors advising that this will probably happen again. And if it does happen again, who is going to be there to see it, help them get up, and to get them to medical care if they need it. Trouble getting around the house is usually one of the first things caregivers notices, but what other functions can they no longer perform on their own.

They are Lonely: They are all by themselves as they either had no spouse or that spouse passed several years ago. They have no one to talk to and nothing to stimulate them. They may have trouble hearing, so they stop watching TV and can’t carry a conversation on the phone. They need to be where they are a part of a community, where they have activity happening, right outside their door.

ADLs – Activities of Daily Living: This comes after the fall and looks at what else can they can no longer do to meet their own needs. Can they keep their medications straight and remember to take them? Do they remember to eat or eat the right thing? Do they remember to bathe or wear clean clothes?

When you start noticing these three things, it is really time to sit down with your senior and have a heart-to-heart discussion about options. Some may be ready to go to some sort of transitional housing and some may never want to leave their home. Part of this is not knowing what their options actually look like or how they can afford some of these options.

Resources to Start the Conversation with your Senior

The Cost Difference Between Staying Home & Moving to Senior Care

Your senior may figure that they will just stay where they are for as long as they can because it’s just not affordable. But consider that if you compare day-to-day living and the cost of maintaining a home and living in that home with a senior community, you might be surprised.

Cost of Living Exercise: Take out a sheet of paper and list out all the costs of owning a home and living in that home. Add those costs up and calculate the monthly expense. You can copy and paste the table below to into a word document.

ItemMonthly Cost at HomeMonthly Cost in Community
Mortgage or Rent
Property Taxes
Home Owner or Renter Insurance
Electricity Utility
Gas Utility
Water Utility
Telphone Costs
Internet Access
Cable Access
Yard Maintenance or Snow Removal
Home Cleaning

Plus also take stock of the house as it does need to be maintained. There are some major components of a home that need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years on average: Hot Water Heater, Furnace, Air Conditioner, Basic Composition Roofs, Windows, and more. And things in a home break. All things that the senior that owns their own home needs to consider that when comparing costs.

Then tabulate what it might cost to make that home safer for them to stay there. There are many modifications that are often made to a home to accommodate a senior at considerable costs: adding handrails and grab bars, replacing carpet with solid surface floors, adding wheelchair ramps, replacing tubs and showers with better accessible models, adding stairlifts. And speaking as someone who buys these houses, many times these modifications are used for less than 60 days before the next big event forces the seniors to move. Handrails and grab bars are not all that much. Widening a doorway might cost $300 to $800. A friend of ours spent $10,000 for one of those walk-in bathtubs for her mother, a tub she never ever used. And another friend spent about $15,000 having a wheelchair ramp constructed that she recently donated to someone else.

Cost of Services Comparison

Next, take a look at what the cost of services might be in your area. There is no point fearing what the costs of things might be when you just don’t know. There is a great website, where you can enter your zip code to see what different items cost in your area. It also will let you estimate the cost into the future. Because most people reading this are in the KC Metro area we have done some research on those numbers as of 2020:

Service Cost MonthlyKC Metro
In-Home Care (44 hours a week)$4,576
Home Health Aide (44 hours a week)$4,576
Adult Day Health Care$1,625
Assisted Living Facility$4,460
Nursing Home Community – Semi-Private Room$6,844
Nursing Home Community – Private Room$7,452

This same website also has an interesting chart comparing 2004 to 2020 on average annual prices.

Service2004 Cost2020 CostAverage Annual
Increase $
Average Annual
Increase %
Nursing Home Private Room$65,185$105,850$2,5423.10%
Assisted Living Community$28,800$51,600$1,4253.80%
Home Care Home Health Aide$42,158$54,912$7971.88%
Home Care Homemaker$38,095$53,769$9802.21%

Defining Services

So now you have a rough idea of the costs of these services, but just what are they?

In-Home Care: Homemaker care offers seniors assistance with activities of daily living that do not require a skilled medical professional. The In-Home Care Homemaker will help with medication management, meal preparation, mobility assistance, bathing and dressing, household chores (no home cleaning, you need a cleaning person for that), grocery shopping, companionship, transportation, and personal care (going to the bathroom).

Home Health Care: This will involve the need of a medical professional and is often seen right after the big event that started all this conversation to make sure the senior recovers from whatever the event was. The Home Health Care Aid will help with: first aid and wound care, physical therapy, monitoring chronic conditions, administering medications, occupational therapy, assistance with medical devices, after-surgery recovery care, respiratory therapy, and blood withdrawals.

Adult Day Care: This will typically be just what it sounds like, a place where your senior can go for care throughout the day that is professionally staffed and supports their health, nutrition, and daily living needs, and provides them with social activities. They may or may not have skilled nursing on staff. Designed to allow caregivers to take care of their seniors during the evenings and weekends, and provides a place for the seniors to go so the caregiver can take a break.

Assisted Living: These come in varying levels of care from a community that does not have skilled nursing to those that have it periodically. Often the seniors will have their own apartment where they can live with many of their activities of daily living offered to the community: all or some meals, laundry services, cleaning services, social activities, and someone to check on them regularly.

Skilled Nursing: These also come in all shapes and sizes and offer care provided by trained registered nurses in a medical setting under a doctor’s supervision.

Campus: Here in the Kansas City metro and across the country you are going to find large companies that offer all these services under one umbrella. They might assist in the seniors’ home for a while and offer adult daycare. They may have a building for different levels of Assisted Living and also have the ability to provide Skilled Nursing if needed. It all comes at a fee.

Memory Care: This is a community for our seniors who are suffering from cognitive decline and may not be able to do things for themselves and may have a tendency to wander and get lost. These communities have locked doors to keep their seniors from getting lost and protocols for visitors going in and out.

Residential Assisted Living: This is a growing trend where assistance to the senior is offered in a house-like setting. Often in a large home or building built to offer housing on a small scale with 5 to 8 bedrooms that may be private or semi-private.

Some Links to More Resources

Selling Your Senior’s House

As you have this conversation there is always the concern with what to do with the house. There are a lot of options.

  • Cleaning it Out for Family to Live In
  • Cleaning it Out to Rent it Out
  • Cleaning it Out and Selling it the Traditional Route with a Realtor
  • Selling it As-Is, Cleaned Out or Not – to a Cash Buyer

Here at kcmoHomeBuyer, the Tuckers, Kim, Don and Scott can help you with selling the house either “as-is” to us or in some cases we can sell it “as-is” the traditional route through our brokerage Realty Resource. We can work with you to discover the best option for you and your family. And when it comes to getting it cleaned out, we do have resources that can help you with that or if you just don’t want to deal with it, we can take all the contents when we buy it as well.


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