Aging in Place is not just a buzzword but represents the preference of a majority of Americans.
As family caregivers, we already know most of our parents and grandparents (and we) want to live in their own homes or a home of their choice that is suitable for aging adults, even if homecare arrangements are needed to make it happen, instead of having to live in a facility intended to seniors.
For those who can remain healthy and strong enough to stay safely in that environment, it can be a reality.
There are options, though, for those seniors who really need a little extra assistance or whose needs could be better met in a community that supports aging in place.
A living concept for seniors known as Villages has been on the rise. Currently there are approximately 100 villages across the country with many more under development or on the drawing board.
The Village is an alternative to a larger house, which might require more upkeep and maintenance than our seniors can handle as they age. It is usually a smaller home but can be in the area where the senior already resides. The smaller home is more manageable, often newer, with more up-to-date features for aging which their current home may not include, such as accessible entries, grab bars, larger doors and hallways and living space on one floor.
Around since early 2000, Villages are a coordinated effort to provide services, socialization and improved quality of life for aging seniors in a community setting. They are self-governing organizations and primarily self-operated (a few are part of a larger parent organization), with members who care for each other.
Villages are typically managed by a paid staff member or director who handles requests for services, manages contracts with providers, and also solicits and organizes volunteers to carry out the requests of its members. Services can be performed by staff, service providers, member to member volunteers, or outside volunteers overseen by the director. Services often include grocery shopping, hosting events for members, transportation, providing educational and volunteer opportunities, technology assistance, companionship, health advocacy, home maintenance, housekeeping, legal assistance and other services desired by the members.
Village membership requires a fee to help offset any costs of the community and for those in need, the membership fee can be discounted.
For more information or to find a Village near your senior, contact Village to Village Network.
NORC – Naturally Occurring Retirement Community
A NORC is generally not intentionally designed to be a community but evolves over time to be an area, neighborhood or building that comes to be populated predominately by those 65 years old and older. It includes a specific geographic area where necessary services and goods are easily accessible to the aging population. It can come about by seniors who naturally age there, seniors who move into a specific area or building or younger people moving out of an area leaving seniors behind.
To fill a need expressed by a NORC, a support system referred to as a NORC support service program (NORC-SSP) is often initiated to promote healthy aging, independence, and community building. Services include healthcare management, socialization, recreation, volunteer opportunities and proximity to food and services. These services are usually provided by private firms or community agencies with outside public and private funding and meet the needs determined by the community.
Accessory Dwelling Units
A growing number of people are deciding to add an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, to a family member’s home so that the senior loved one can be assisted as needed by family caregivers without the need for travel. It has been referred to as an “in-law” suite but it can be more than renovating the basement. It could also include adding on to an existing house with an additional floor or extension that can house your senior loved one. It should include a sleeping area, kitchen area, bathroom and living area.
There are units – known as granny pods – that are full dwellings which can be placed on the property, giving freedom for seniors to have their own space but provide safety due to the nearness of other family members. These modular units are increasing rapidly in popularity.
Be sure to check with local city zoning laws and any community covenants before you build, renovate or add a modular unit to be sure you are compliant with local ordinances, building codes and the rules of your community.
Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly
This option is not a type of housing but care delivery. About programs for all-inclusive care for the elderly, or PACE, Medicare.gov says “PACE manages all of the medical, social, and long-term care services for frail people to remain in their homes and to maintain their quality of life. PACE is available only in states that have chosen to offer it under Medicaid. To be eligible for PACE, you must be age 55 or older, live in the service area of a PACE program, be certified as eligible for nursing home care by the appropriate State agency, and be able to live safely in the community.”
To find out if there is a PACE program near your senior, contact your State Medicaid Office.
Your senior loved one can remain in a place, building or community longer when good planning and appropriate care to meet their needs is available.
As long as their health and safety allow, if their home is where they want to be, then there are options to help them make it happen.