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What Is The Difference Between An Assisted Living Facility, Retirement  & Senior Community?

Assisted Living Facilities & Retirement Communities:

  • These developments are for moderate to high-income elders 55 and older, provides 24-hour access to services based on the individual needs of each resident.

  • Assisted living facilities must provide laundry and housekeeping services; opportunities for individual and group socialization; assistance with daily living activities  (eating, bathing, getting dressed, toileting, transferring, and continence) ; nursing assessment, health monitoring, and routine nursing tasks; medication administration; services for residents with behavior problems and recreational and social activities. Facilities must also arrange or provide transportation, ancillary services for medically-related care (physician, therapy, pharmacist, and podiatry), and hospice care.

  • Assisted living facilities must provide apartment units with a bathroom (sink, shower, and toilet), refrigerator, and cooking capacity; and a call system monitored 24 hours per day by staff. A residents’ agreement is required prior to and upon move-in. It must describe the services to be provided and their cost, and the conditions under which additional services may be provided and fees charged. The facility must describe services that it does not provide but will assist with arranging or coordinating.


Elderly Housing:​​


  • Projects known as Elderly Housing, Senior Apartments, Low-income Senior Housing, etc.

  • Rental apartments for low to moderate-income persons.  All residents of the unit must be 62 years and older.  Some allow seniors 55 years and older and/or persons with disabilities.  A few will allow a spouse or caregiver to be under the age requirement.

  • Most do not allow pets (service animals only).

  • Many of the older buildings are subsidized with federal and state funding ("Public Housing").

  • Income and eligibility criteria vary based on  the building .

  • Tenants must be able to function and live independently.  Those needing assistance are responsible for arranging for their own services to stay independent. 

  • Some building managers partner with agencies to provide some on-site services such as group dining (lunch service), recreation, transportation, short-term case management, etc. 

  • Typical rental prices for newer Senior Apartments range from about $900-$1200/month for a studio or one bedroom apartment.  Many, but not all, will include some utilities.

  • ALL Senior Apartments have wait lists.  This typically ranges from about 3 months to 4 years, 

  • The older government-subsidized apartments (Hawaii Public Housing Authority) that only charge 30% of a senior's income as rent have the longest wait list in the range of 5 to 7 years.

Retirement, Residences & Communities:

  • These developments are for moderate to high-income elders 55 and older. They may provide housekeeping, transportation, recreation, meal services, on-site medical care  etc. 

  • Some may offer care in your unit or at a care facility on-site (assisted living).  

  • Some developments have units that are privately owned such as One Kalakaua and Olaloa.  These are bought and sold on the housing market as fee-simple condominiums.

  • Most are rentals such as The Plaza Assisted LivingPohai NaniOceanside Hawaii, and Hawaii Kai Retirement.  Typical rental costs range from about $2500 to $5000 per month.

  • Other Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer service or care options that require a large one-time fee or "buy-in," in addition to a monthly service fee. Residents at 15 Craigside and Arcadia do not own their units but are offered guaranteed lifetime care, even if they run out of resources.  Residents of Kahala Nui have the option of a refundable deposit if they choose to leave.

Projects known as Family/Low-income Housing or Subsidized Apartments

  • Wait lists for these buildings are typically longer than those for seniors-only apartments. 

  • Seniors who want to live with younger family members in low-income rental apartments only have this option because younger persons are not allowed to live in senior housing.

  • Rental units for low to moderate income individuals and families of any age.​​














Woman in Wheelchair in Greenhouse
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