Aging is a factor out of our control, but finding the necessary communities and living arrangements, care and support as we age should not be. Eventually, many of us reach a point when living at home is more of a burden than a benefit, when joining a community where everything from socialization to medical care is within close reach makes sense. Knowing all the facts about senior living options and the benefits that each provide can help us make the most informed decisions for ourselves or for our loved ones. At different stages throughout senior years, changes occur that alter our wants and needs. Independent living communities, assisted living and nursing homes are available at each stage to help every individual get the most out of life.
For active seniors and those who are able to take care of themselves but are looking for access to more socialization and interaction, buying or renting within a retirement or independent living community allows them to join a population similar to themselves with shared interests and abilities.
“Four emerging fundamental truths underpin this new era,” Generations, a Journal of the American Society on Aging said in a January 2014 article. “Residents want autonomy and community; the chance for meaningful activity; a feeling of being valued in their community; and social connection within and outside their community.”
Within these communities, individuals can still benefit from total freedom with the satisfaction that other adults their age, exercise, activities, entertainment and emergency help are right at their fingertips.
“Designed for seniors who require little or no assistance with the activities of daily living, independent living units provide services for residents such as housekeeping, laundry and meals,” the Assisted Living Federation of America (AFLA) says.[pullquote]At different stages throughout senior years, changes occur that alter our wants and needs. Independent living communities, assisted living and nursing homes are available at each stage to help every individual get the most out of life.”[/pullquote]
If an independent living community does not include all the support that you or your loved one needs, you may begin looking at other options. The once-overwhelming and unimaginable thought of living anywhere but home may change when simple, day-to-day routines and habits can no longer be performed on one’s own. At this point, with the increased need of care and support, assisted living may be a better fit.
“The growth [in assisted living residents] is due, in part, to consumer demand because consumers prefer to age in place – at home or, at the very least, in a community facility with a home-like environment, regardless of their medical condition,” AgingToday, a newspaper of the American Society on Aging, said.
“Assisted living facilities are a great choice for those who can’t live on their own, but do not need nursing care,” AARP says. “A combination of housing, meals, personal care and support, social activities, 24-hour supervision and, in some residences, health-related services is usually provided.”
When medical issues prevent seniors from taking care of themselves and they need constant care and attention to either rehabilitation or maintain a comfortable life, a nursing home is usually recommended.
“A nursing home provides care of chronic conditions or short term convalescent or rehabilitative care, for which medical and nursing care are indicated,” ALFA says.
Nursing homes are not always permanent. A resident of an assisted living facility who has a fall may check into a nursing home to receive the necessary attention to fully recover.
“Nursing homes usually distinguish between skilled care and custodial (or intermediate) care,” the Alzheimer’s Association says. “Examples of skilled care are physical therapy after a joint replacement or a stroke, nursing services such as IV therapy, dressing changes for a stage three wound or new tube feedings. [Custodial care] typically includes assistance with most activities of daily living such as assistance with eating, dressing, bathing, medication management and walking.”
According to Medicare, when choosing a nursing home, you should take into account a few different factors: quality of life, quality of care, availability, staff, food and dining, policies, security, preventive care, which hospitals they work with in an emergency, licensing and certifications, services and charges and fees.
Making the choice, whether for yourself or a loved one, to move away from home into one of these communities is a big change and can be overwhelming. Feeling confident in your decision, the amount of care needed and the community chosen, will make the move more relaxed when the time comes. Researching and visiting multiple communities may help make the decision and moving process easier.