In a blink of an eye, life has thrown you a curve ball and you find yourself in the position of being unable to remain in your own home.
If you haven’t planned ahead, the thought of choosing a new place to lay your head at night can be daunting, formidable and downright nerve-wracking.
And more often than not, we aren’t even aware that we may not be coping as well as we should at home.
This is especially true with couples as most spouses end up compensating for each other without even realizing it.
So what do you do when you are faced with having to choose a new abode from the myriad of options in today’s world? It used to be pretty simple. So long as you were independent, you either lived in your own home or moved to a retirement community. If you needed a little help with your daily routine and meals, you moved to an assisted living community.
If you needed quite a bit of help with personal care, or skilled nursing care, you went into a nursing home.
Housing optionsIn recent years, the senior housing arena has developed many more options for elder care from specialized nursing homes to types of assisted living that prevent seniors being placed in a nursing home.
It’s good for consumers that we have more choices for care but it also has led to confusion and inconsistency within the senior housing industry.
The best time to explore your options is now so when the times comes that a change is necessary, you will have a better idea of what you want and don’t want. But don’t keep your wishes and choices a secret only known by you.
Make sure you have written down your desires as well as concerns as well as voicing them to your family.
OptionsThere are key issues to consider when exploring your options:
• Temporary versus long-term care: An older person may go to a nursing home for rehab following a surgery or stroke, then return home. In other circumstances, a senior’s needs are better served by planning a move into a situation that is likely to remain the same for the many years to come.
• Independence: Can the senior live alone, and more important, does he/she want to? Or would living in a more service-oriented environment be more nurturing?
• Needs for personal care: How much and what kinds of personal or “custodial care” are needed or desired? Within each type of senior housing, the range of services offered and the level of care within those services varies greatly.
• Needs for medical care: If the senior has a chronic illness that necessitates special medical care, or ongoing services of medical professionals, independent living and even assisted living may not be suitable.
• Socialization: Does the community offer activities that interest you? Are they age appropriate? If they are scheduled, do they actually occur?
• Costs: Learn about the financial aspects of senior housing to determine what options are affordable for you. Be sure to ask what happens if you run out of funds to pay for your care.
Reviewing facility comparison checklists can help you determine which type of environment fits the senior resident’s requirements and preferences. Seek guidance from professionals who are experts in senior housing issues such as medical social workers, case managers or geriatric care managers.
Glossary of choices
Looking for and choosing a senior living community for your potential future stages of life can be very emotional. Try to look at it as a new chapter in your life, not a curtain call.
• Independent Living: These communities are designed for adults who want an independent lifestyle while enjoying the benefits a full service community offers. These full-service communities typically provide meals in a restaurant setting, housekeeping, transportation and various social activities. While there may be wellness programs, there typically are no care options available, unless they are licensed as a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly.
• Assisted Living: These communities promote independence in a private residence setting, but offer personal assistance for meals, bathing, dressing and/or medication on an as-needed basis. In addition, transportation and social activities may be available.
• Skilled Nursing: These communities provide medical care by licensed nurses 24 hours a day. Many of these communities offer short-term, comprehensive rehabilitation programs on an inpatient and outpatient basis. These communities are licensed and regulated by state public health departments.
• Continuing Care Retirement Communities: This type of housing provides an entire campus of living choices from private home and independent living to assisted living and even skilled nursing communities. The residents can age in a place without having to relocate. CCRCs provide a type of housing regardless of your medical status. There is typically a monthly payment that covers rent, meals, services, amenities and/or medical care.
• Alzheimer’s/Memory Care: These communities provide specialized services to meet the needs of the Alzheimer’s or memory-impaired adult. These services may be provided by an Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, or Residential Community.
• Adult Family Homes: These typically are in a residential type home with an average of 3-6 residents living there. Rooms may be private or shared. Level of medical care provided varies.
• Adult Day Care: A wonderful and cost-effective alternative to live-in care. Adult daycare offers a safe environment for adults during daytime hours to participate in a variety of planned programs including social activities, nutritional, nursing and rehabilitation services.
• Respite Care: Caregivers, particularly family caregivers, tend to give more of themselves and internalize their feelings more than outside paid caregivers. Respite care can give the caregivers a much-needed break or vacation. Many assisted living and skilled nursing facilities offer this service.
Choices, decisions – Where to go? What to do
Wed, Apr 10, 2013
One day at a time
Wed, Jan 9, 2013
You mean there’s a test for that?
Tue, Nov 6, 2012
The facts, the goal, the results
Tue, Oct 2, 2012
Eeny Meeny Miney Mo
Wed, Sep 5, 2012
‘You don’t have to whisper’
Wed, Aug 15, 2012
Information tidbits for seniors
Wed, Jun 6, 2012
A few of my favorite things …
Wed, May 2, 2012
Alzheimer’s: The heartbreaking disease
Wed, Apr 11, 2012
Do you know what you need to know?
Wed, Mar 7, 2012
Promises, promises ... how to handle best intentions
Wed, Feb 1, 2012
For seniors, a little bit of this and that
Wed, Nov 2, 2011
What? me scammed? Never!
Tue, Oct 4, 2011
How to speak ‘dementia’ with your loved one
Wed, Sep 7, 2011
Questions, answers, suggestions and Alzheimer’s
Tue, Aug 2, 2011
I need a vacation, but who will care for Mom?
Wed, Jul 6, 2011
Just Imagine: A Future Without Alzheimer’s
Wed, Jun 1, 2011
Letting go of the car keys: Part 2
Wed, May 4, 2011
Letting go of the car keys: Part 1
Wed, Mar 2, 2011
The balancing act of being a family caregiver
Tue, Feb 1, 2011