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Elderly Have Wide Variety of Housing Options

December 12, 1987|From Times Wire Services

LEXINGTON, Mass. — Most people do not realize the wide range of housing options that exist for the elderly in addition to nursing homes and living with grown children, says Dr. Vivian Carlin, a specialist on the aging.

There are many alternative living arrangements that should be considered, advises Carlin, a psychologist and consulting gerontologist involved in housing and pre-retirement planning.

She recently retired as supervisor of the Office of Planning and Policy Analysis of the New Jersey State Division on Aging, where she developed the Elderly Home Conversion program.

It is a problem more and more people face every year--helping elderly parents find safe, affordable and suitable housing, she points out.

"As we age, we all experience some physical, economic and social changes. These must be taken into account in the housing choices you and your parents make together," she noted in a new book, "Where Can Mom Live?: a Family Guide to Living Arrangements for Elderly Parents," written with Ruth Mansberg.

Not Often Best Solution

For years, it has been assumed that nursing homes or living with children are the only solutions available, say the authors, who add that not only are these not the sole choices open, but they are too often not even the best choices.

"Housing should provide a living environment that will allow the person to continue her preferred life style while, at the same time, safeguarding her health and independence for as long as possible," they write.

Using the experiences of real people, they recount ways families have coped with living arrangements for both men and women, and explain how to go about investigating the alternatives.

Among their suggestions:

Home, sweet home: staying put but finding services and people to help make this a safe and satisfying solution.

Group-shared homes: unrelated people living together and sharing the expenses and some or all of the work of maintaining a household.

Life-care and other congregate communities: studio and one-bedroom apartments. Usually included in the rent are some meals, housekeeping services and social, recreational and cultural programs.

Home sharing, accessory apartments and elder cottages: homeowners share part or all of their homes with a tenant, offer a complete apartment in a house or a separate cottage adjacent to a house.

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