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What are the Housing Options Available to Seniors in California?

Many seniors find they rattle around at home when their children have grown up and moved away. They want to downscale, but what are their options? An elder law attorney in Los Angeles can help you choose assisted living housing for seniors that fits your lifestyle and your requirements perfectly. 

Senior Living Options Include:

  • Independent living in retirement homes or villages. Typically without medical support services.
  • Assisted living communities combine independent housing, support services, and healthcare. You can go from independent living to assisted living and nursing home facilities.
  • Nursing homes provide round-the-clock care issues and assistance with daily living. California's Department of Public Health licenses nursing homes as Skilled Nursing Facilities.

Does California Have Senior Housing?

Yes, California has many senior living options.

Independent Living

There are over 1400 facilities in California. They usually include features, like pools, Jacuzzis, and gyms. Often, all three meals are included, although apartments and cottages have kitchens.

Assisted Living

There are over 4500 assisted living communities in California. There's no independent living because residents, by definition, need degrees of care all day, every day, including those with cognitive impairments and limited mobility.

Meals, laundry, and housekeeping are included. Social interaction is encouraged through entertainment activities such as bingo, art classes, movie nights, etc.

Nursing Homes

There are different types of nursing homes to cater to different needs.

Adult Care

There are about 200 adult care facilities in California. They suit families who are primary caregivers but also have other significant responsibilities. Some people feel guilty for dropping off their parents at adult care.

However, it can be the best thing for elderly parents. They get professional assistance with tricky tasks like bathing, and social activities including dancing and art like beading, stained glass, painting, and embroidery, etc.

Hospice Care

There are about 500 hospice care facilities in California. They provide end-of-life care to make the final stages of life as comfortable and pain-free as possible. In addition to medical care, many hospices have counselors to provide emotional support and chaplain services for spiritual support.

To qualify for hospice care, patients must have a doctor's note that clearly states the patient isn't expected to live longer than six months.

Respite Care

There are over 1700 respite care facilities in California. They give exhausted caregivers time off to emotionally recharge and enjoy downtime. 

There are two types of respite care. In-home care is when caregivers come to the home regularly, for example, three hours a day, three days a week. Onsite care is when seniors stay at a facility for a few days.

How to Determine the Best Housing Option?

You must spend time researching and visiting senior living facilities to see if they meet your daily care requirements. 

Consider the following factors:

Level of Care

If you're 55 years old, in perfect health, with plans to actively enjoy your retirement independent living is for you. However, bear in mind that you will need greater levels of care as you age.

It's a good idea to consult a Californian elder law attorney about future disability and elder care options.

Checklist of Wants and Needs

Some examples include:

  • Do you want completely independent living but need assisted care?
  • Do you want a gym and pool or are you happy with walks and sensory gardens?
  • Do you need help remembering your medication? Senior living programs that provide medications to residents are for you.
  • Do you want to drive your car, but need to take the community bus?
  • Are you likely to need high care in the future?


  • Proximity to family might be important to you. 
  • Perhaps you value proximity to shops and restaurants.
  • How do you feel about the proximity of your neighbors?
  • Is proximity to your GP or physical therapist a priority?
  • What about recreational activities? Do you want to be close to your tennis club?


Budget is your most important consideration. You can have all the wants in the world, but unless you have the finances or private insurance, you're going to have to make compromises. 

Who Qualifies for Senior Housing In California?

Assisted living facilities have eligibility criteria. 

  • 55 and older
  • 62 and older

There are exceptions for 55 and older senior living care facilities. One person in the relationship must be 55 and older and the secondary resident must be a Qualified Permanent Resident. That is, they must be at least 42 years old unless they are a spouse or cohabitant, the primary financial and physical support provider, or a disabled child residing with the qualifying senior.

Facilities that are for 62 years and older generally don't allow anyone younger to move in. The exceptions are a live-in caregiver and employees younger than 62.

Engage an elder care attorney in Los Angeles to find out if any exceptions apply to you.

How Much is Senior Housing in California?

Independent living facilities cost $550 - $5000 per month. Some communities provide the option to purchase.

Assisted living costs also vary according to the support you need and the location. Costs are around $1000 - $9000 per month.

Nursing Home Care Services Costs Vary By Type

Adult daycare centers cost $7400 - $37,300 per year.

Hospice costs are usually paid by Medicare. Medi-Cal covers costs for low-income families. Private insurance covers costs for middle to high-income families. Note, private insurance providers might not provide hospice coverage, so you should check before you make an expensive assumption.

Respite care facilities cost $5900 - $34,000 per month.

How to Find Affordable Housing or Assisted Living for Seniors

There are several sources that help you find senior living options. A Los Angeles elder care attorney can help you determine which program suits your requirements.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) s a good place to start. It provides information on government programs to help seniors in California find suitable housing. For example:

  • Housing choice voucher program (Section 8): The government pays the allowed amount to cover part (or all) of your chosen assisted living facility's costs.
  • Privately owned subsidized housing: The department financially supports landlords so they can rent to low-income tenants.
  • Public housing options consist of apartment buildings or complexes managed by a city or county public housing agency with accommodation for low-income seniors.
  • Low-income housing tax credit enables seniors to live in accommodation that doesn't exceed the set amount.
  • Section 202 supportive housing for the elderly provides accommodation to largely independent seniors who need a part-time caregiver to help with things like shopping and cleaning.

Start Your Estate Plan with a Los Angeles Elder Law Attorney

Estate planning is more than writing your last will and testament. It also deals with your finances for retirement. A Los Angeles elder law attorney helps ensure your senior years are financially comfortable.

McKenzie Legal & Financial has certified elder law attorneys in Los Angeles, CA who are waiting to help you with the legal issues you're likely to encounter as a senior living in California. 

For a free consultation, contact us at 562-594-4200 at McKenzie Legal & Financial today!

Thomas McKenzie Law
Estate Planning Attorney in California. Full-service law firm specializing in estate plans, wills and trusts, long-term care, and financial consulting. Thomas L. McKenzie received his Juris Doctor degree from Western State University College of Law, in Fullerton, California. While working full-time at night and attending full-time daily classes, Tom graduated law school with honors in 1993.

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