Jimmy Storms reads the newspaper in the lobby at Thornton Terrace in Hanover. Storms, a professional piano player, chooses to live in the senior living community rather than live on his own in a private residence. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Jimmy Storms reads the newspaper in the lobby at Thornton Terrace in Hanover. Storms, a professional piano player, chooses to live in the senior living community rather than live on his own in a private residence. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
There's no magic age when people should change their type of housing because they are getting older.

There's also no magic age for starting to examine the alternatives.

Housing is an individual decision, and what is right for one person isn't for another. Some people, as they approach or reach retirement age, decide they want to stay in their owned home, rented home, apartment, condo or mobile home.

Others would rather move into a retirement community; move from an apartment to a house; or any combination of potential housing options.

As people age, they might need help with the tasks of living such as laundry, grocery shopping, bathing and so on. For some, hiring a home health agency to come into their home is the right answer, while others would just as soon move into a place where they will get some help.

An early first step for planning for the future, which might include changing housing as needs change, is to find out what Medicare, long-term insurance and private insurance will pay for, and to determine how much money will be available.

Home health agencies are in the phone book, but perhaps more importantly, they are online at the websites of the government agencies that license or certify them. Each state has its own procedure and its own list. Do an online search and be sure to click on information that is provided by Indiana or Kentucky state government, not on advertising from businesses.

States have different names for the same types of facilities they regulate. For example, in Kentucky there are intermediate-care facilities, nursing facilities, nursing homes, personal care homes, skilled nursing facilities and Alzheimer's Nursing Homes, as well as home health agencies.

They are regulated by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The website is http://chfs.ky.gov/os/oig.

Kentucky also has assisted living facilities, which are certified by the Kentucky Department for Aging and Independent Living. On this part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is a list of the 127 certified assisted living facilities in the state, including New Horizons Assisted Living in Carrollton. There are no others in Carroll County and none in Trimble County.

Also on the website is a checklist people can use to help them choose an assisted living community in Kentucky.

There are several checklists for evaluating assisted-living facilities in Indiana at non-government websites.

In Indiana, assisted-living facilities are called residential-care facilities. There is one in Jefferson County, Jewel House in Madison.

There also are lists online about other types of facilities and home health care.

Again, the names differ from state to state. For example, in Indiana a nursing home is called a comprehensive-care facility, and is regulated by the Indiana State Department of Health. Its website is www.in.gov/isdh. Most people and the facilities themselves refer to them as nursing homes.

There's no cost or obligation for visiting the various kinds of housing options or talking to home health agencies to get started on the first step: information gathering.