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Three senior women in garden

Robin Zenger has a strategy for aging in retirement without a spouse or children. The 67-year-old lives modestly and has continued to work.

Still, Zenger has gaps to fill. Her estate plan is outdated. And although she hopes to remain in her Tucson, Ariz., home, she hasn’t decided what she’ll do if that’s no longer an option. She has toyed with the idea of sharing a house with friends or moving to northern Mexico.

For some single seniors, staying in their current home works, but usually only with structural changes. And even if your health is good, you may need someone to help out with household tasks, or to provide more-expensive care as you age.

Here are other housing options:

Home sharing: The group home will feel familiar to those who recall “The Golden Girls,” and it is appealing for those with friends in similar situations. The arrangements vary, but often you have your own bedroom and bathroom while sharing the kitchen and other common spaces. To find organizations that match housemates, visit the National Shared Housing Resource Center’s website.

Continuing care retirement communities: Also known as life plan communities, they offer living arrangements that range from independent living to skilled nursing, with people moving from one setup to the next as their needs change. Staying in the same community is often attractive to singles, who make up roughly two-thirds of the population in CCRCs.

You generally must be at least 62 years old and healthy enough to live independently. There are nearly 2,000 continuing care retirement communities nationwide, many with waiting lists. Entrance fees range from $100,000 to more than $1 million; the average fee is about $320,000, according to the National Investment Center for Senior Housing and Care. You’ll also pay monthly fees, which average about $3,300.

Naturally occurring retirement communities: These are communities in which at least 40 percent of the population is 60 or older. Social service agencies, health care providers and other organizations offer on-site services to residents. People usually live in their own homes or apartments but pay an annual membership fee for access to transportation, social activities or health care management services.

Cohousing: This works a bit like a modern commune. Members typically buy their own apartment or home and pay monthly membership dues to be part of the community and use a common area for meals, socializing and events. Most aren’t set up to provide the specialized care you may need as you age.

Send questions to moneypower@kiplinger.com. Visit Kiplinger.com for more on this and similar money topics.

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