Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here


Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Alternative Housing Options for Long-Term Care

spinner image nurse helping senior woman with hair
Getty Images

Nearly 80 percent of Americans age 50 and older want to stay home as they age, according to AARP's 2021 "Home and Community Preferences Survey." Communities and organizations have been cropping up around the United States — and internationally — to help people achieve the goal of aging in place.

There are naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs) that cater to those who don’t want to leave their home or community. The Eden Alternative is another innovation in the world of aging, where the focus is on de-institutionalizing long-term care.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

These and other organizations and care facilities are working to make life for aging adults more pleasurable, focusing on growth in these later years as opposed to declining health and well-being. Learn more about a few of these long-term care options.

Alternative Long-Term Care Facilities

The Eden Alternative

Focused on changing the atmosphere and experience found in long-term care facilities, the Eden Alternative is a not-for-profit organization with about 190 registered homes across the U.S, and Canada, according to its online directory. Their focus is on bringing life and wellness into institutional-like elder care settings.

Often, these facilities are blooming with plants, house many pets and encourage visits by children, practicies aimed at staving off the emotional and mental deterioration that can come when residents feel lonely or helpless. The goal isn’t just to de-institutionalize long-term care facilities, but also to renovate the culture and management of each.

The Eden Alternative believes that facilities should not be run from the top down, but should incorporate the opinions and ideas of their residents. The organization is also helping older adults stay in their homes as they age with the Eden at Home initiative, which works to de-institutionalize at-home care. 

The Green House Project

Much like the Eden Alternative, the Green House Project caters not just to the health needs of older adults but to their quality of life. The core idea is to provide our loved ones with a life enhanced by relationships with qualified staff, who choose to work in an environment focused on enriching the lives of older adults.

As of June 2022, there were about 370 Green House homes in 32 states, according to the organization. They aim to take the sterility out of long-term care, providing a warm environment with a focus on community, well-being and happiness.

With six to 10 residents per home, Green Houses provide each person with a private room and bathroom that can be decorated to the individual's liking. Each Green House has an open living and dining area, emphasizing the importance of social relationships among the residents and staff. 

See more Health & Wellness offers >

Aging in Place

There are organizations popping up all over the country that cater to older adults who prefer to stay in their homes rather than moving to retirement communities, assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Here are two examples.

Beacon Hill Village

Boston’s Beacon Hill Village is an organization that caters to a community of older adults who want to stay in their own home for as long as possible. Around 350 Bostonians age 50 and older partake in Beacon Hill Village’s services, which include everything from dog walking to geriatric care management.

Beacon Hill Village operates on a membership basis, with both subsidized and unsubsidized options available. Members can take advantage of social activities, day trips and exercise classes in addition to the basic services. 

Capitol Hill Village

Capitol Hill Village is a nonprofit membership organization in the District of Columbia that offers typical retirement-home services in an in-home setting. Developed by a group of local retirees, this organization’s main function is to provide a network of services to individuals so they can continue to live in their own homes as long as possible.

Members can get help with everything from gardening and household chores to in-home health care. This is another example of older adults taking charge of their future and is a model that can be replicated in other cities, suburbs and rural areas around the country.

Additional Resources

There are many more facilities and communities in the United States and abroad that are taking the needs of our older loved ones to heart. For information and resources for older adults wishing to remain in their own homes or communities-at-large, check out AARP’s Age-Friendly Archive.

This article, originally published Sept. 28, 2011, has been updated with more recent information about these long-term care organizations.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?