Options Abound for Seniors to Age Safely
One of the greatest fears people have about growing older is losing their independence. And, to many, the first step of losing their independence is moving into a senior living community. And while the vast majority of seniors want to continue living in their own homes as they age, not all can do so safely. According to one study published in the American Journal of Public Health, two-thirds of adults age 65 and older need some assistance with some of the daily routines of life – dressing, bathing, getting out of bed, walking, etc. It is the delicate balance between a senior’s desire to “age in place” and a family member’s desire that their loved one is in a safe environment that poses a challenge for many families.
The good news is that there are many more choices than there were just 20 years ago. Increased demand for services combined with seniors’ desire to maintain their independence and dignity have created a variety of opportunities to live well as we age. Here are just some of the options today’s seniors have when choosing a place to live:
Staying at home / home care
If you’re part of the 31% of people age 65 and older who don’t need any assistance with day-to-day living and you’re in reasonably good health, there may be no reason for you to leave the home you’re currently living in. If you do need some assistance in managing daily tasks, in-home care may make it possible for you to remain in your home. Home care and home health services have become increasingly popular, allowing people to age in place. Additionally, many seniors are willing to make necessary renovations to make their homes safer – such as installing hand railings at stairways, grab bars in the bathroom, and an emergency response system – so living at home doesn’t compromise their well-being.
For seniors who want to stay in their home, but know they need some assistance, house sharing is an option. This style of living was popularized in the TV show The Golden Girls and, in fact, house sharing seems to be most popular among baby boomer women. Let’s Share Housing, an online house sharing service, reports that 80 percent of their clients are boomer women. House sharing may also include inviting a friend or family member to move in and provide help with transportation, maintenance and housekeeping in exchange for room and board. Or the senior may share a family member’s house by moving in with them.
Retirement villages can either be planned or evolve over time and both are ways seniors can still have a great deal of independence, while having easy access to shopping, restaurants, banking and medical help, if needed. One such planned community, The Villages in Florida, is the fastest-growing city in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People who live in The Villages own their own homes while having easy access to healthcare, recreation and entertainment.
Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) as also springing up across the country. NORCs were not originally designed for evolve over time. It could be an apartment building where most of the residents are elderly or a community that attracts older Americans because of its amenities or demographics. Residents create a network of shared support services, either by helping one another or by hiring outside assistance for doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, and other errands.
Independent Living Communities
Similar to retirement villages, an independent living community offers seniors their own home or apartment with easy access to activities and healthcare. The main difference is that independent living communities generally consist of a single campus or complex and offer amenities such as housekeeping, grounds maintenance, laundry, a dining room and meal plan. This is a good option for seniors who are looking to be independent and don’t want the hassles of maintaining a home.
For those whose care needs are more extensive, but who still don’t need round-the-clock medical care, assisted living may be the answer. Assisted living provides the same amenities an independent community offers, but with greater supervision and support for things such as medication management, dressing, bathing and other activities of daily living. Many assisted living communities have special units for those who have experienced memory loss.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) combine independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing services in one community. The idea here is that, as your care needs change, you can remain in the same community, among the people and staff you’re comfortable with.
Skilled Nursing Facilities
And finally, if one’s medical needs grow to the point of needing round-the-clock care, and in-home care isn’t a viable option, a Skilled Nursing Facility may be your answer. Unlike the nursing homes of yesteryear, today’s Skilled Nursing Facilities generally have activities, encourage socialization and have a more holistic view of healthcare.