It's my pleasure to host this guest post. The topic interests me particularly because recently, we had future planning discussions and tours of local senior care homes with my Mom. In the end, we decided to continue supporting Mom in her independent retirement community, even though her needs are increasing. For the time being, she chooses to pay privately to supplement her care. Having these discussions and knowing what's out there in the way of options though, was a really helpful exercise for our whole family.
Senior Living Considerations
As any person ages, their needs and physical abilities may change. For this reason, it is prudent to consider some alternative living situations to accommodate lifestyle, disabilities, and personal preferences. From living in a like-minded senior community to staying in the family home, there are some things to consider when helping your loved one make these tough decisions.
Caregivers should consider the following when trying to help a senior facing a possible move:
The benefits of living in a senior community.
A senior community allows residents to be with individuals who are at the same stage of life, which could foster engagement and promote socialization. There's a feeling of community, security and safety found in these senior living residences that other apartments, condos, or subdivisions may not provide. Even seniors that are reluctant to move may take some comfort in a senior living community. Some other perks of taking up residence in a senior community include the following:
- Avoiding isolation with close neighbors and supports.
- Staying active and engaged with like-minded individuals.
- Living with more ease and simplicity in a downsized situation.
Considerations for living in an independent living home.
When asked, many seniors remain firm on the fact that they want to live independently in their own home. Downsizing to a more manageable sized residence could be a practical way to make this work, or some simple strategies could make the family dwelling safer and more secure for those that choose to remain there.
Consider the following questions when helping a senior make decisions regarding their current home:
- Where do they live? Is the location of the current home practical and is the floorplan design flexible for changing mobility needs? Be sure that the senior has access to the services, providers, and places that they need. Also, be sure to make an inventory of the current home to determine what, if any, work needs to be done or modifications that should be made to make the home safe for those living there.
- What are the accommodations? Does the home have the things the senior will need? From beds to ramps, be sure that the home suits the seniors need, while providing them full-access to the bathroom, mailbox, kitchen, or other areas of the home.
- Are there any activities or amenities? What types of services are nearby? Make sure that the senior lives in proximity to markets, recreation facilities, providers, and caregivers. For instance, be certain that your senior loved one will have easy access to public transportation if they do not drive.
Some other things to think about.
Another option is an assisted-living facility that provides on site nursing care for residents who are recuperating from an injury or who have physical limitations. These accommodations might be short-term housing during recovery, or longer-term living situations for seniors who need this level of care.
Many innovative care communities are adopting a step-down approach which incorporates independent living options with assisted and skilled-nursing models. These rooms or apartments are on the same property, so an individual who needs a bit more help is able to get it without leaving his familiar community. Many older individuals worry that an extended stay in a nursing home or hospital may result in them losing their home. This step-down model eliminates this concern and ensures that residents will be able to live on the premise for the rest of their lives, which brings a sense of security in the fact that they won’t ever need to move again.
Talk with your loved one about their wishes and where they want to spend their golden years. From independent living to a senior community, options abound based on the resident’s age, physical needs, and personal preferences. Clarify what the senior sees as the most pragmatic option and listen when they verbalize concerns. Tours of various dwellings and facilities may help to put some minds at ease during this process.
Daniel Lofaso is the Community Outreach Manager for Lourdes Noreen Mckeen, a retirement and independent living facility in West Palm Beach, FL.