In recent years, Americans with disabilities have been experiencing greater support and comfort in community living arrangements, and now a federal department is working to promote the use of these situations as a first option.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently created Community First Choice Option, which is designed to allow retirees to pick community life as their first choice when they need to live with some assistance, and then rely on nursing homes and other institutions when the first option is no longer feasible. HHS does so by increasing federal funding matches to individual states by as much as six percentage points as long as the states provide community attendant services and support people receiving Medicaid.

But the new Community First Choice Option, part of the Affordable Care Act, also gives people the ability to remain in their own homes and receive care there with state assistance. For instance, HHS also has the Money Follows the Person program, which allows disabled people to receive aid regardless of where they live, and thus allows for greater independence. This program is currently available in 43 states nationwide, and has already helped 12,000 people move out of institutions and into communities. By 2016, another 13,000 people are expected to be back to living independently as a result of the program's assistance.

HHS also has a new Administration for Community Living that helps bring together organizations under the department's purview to coordinate efforts that will make access to community supports easier to find. Prior to the creation of this agency, it may have been difficult for seniors and those with disabilities to find the best care available due to obstacles in coordinating between disparate programs in certain states.

Living in communities can be better for seniors because most allow residents to receive whatever care they may need as a result of their unique health situations, but also to live somewhat independently while doing so. Unlike nursing homes or other institutions, these communities often allow retirees to have their own small apartments, and do things on their own such as cook and clean. This can be very important for seniors with less concerning health issues that nonetheless need to be addressed, but who do not need constant care and are still ambulatory.