We all want to live out our lives in the home of our choice.
Maybe that’s the home in which we spent the majority of our lives, raised our children, and welcomed the grandchildren or the smaller place, closer to family.
For others it’s none of the above, but the retirement paradise of long time dreams.
Sometimes we can live out our lives in that home and sometimes we need to accept other options.
These options may be better than aging in place in the home of their choice because they may provide better physical care, social support and freedom from worry about how they will care for the home and themselves.
The options for care can include a wide range of different situations that could meet the needs of seniors considering every situation is as individual as the senior who will need help.
Gone (or going) are the stereotypical nursing homes where older adults sit in chairs in hallways and wait for the end to come.
Viable Options for Aging Care
Our senior loved ones have many choices for long term living as they age. These options should each be considered and plans made as our seniors age so they (and we) are not unprepared in case a crisis strikes.
Most seniors (and us too) want to live at home forever and that could be achievable with appropriate interventions in areas such as health, lifestyle, finances and technology. When independence wavers, it is time to move down the continuum of care selecting another option that will safely meet their needs.
Here is a quick review of the options for aging:
Remaining functionally independent at home with accommodations, including technology, can be a good option and often the first choice of most seniors.
- There are connected homes with a variety of technological applications that will help our seniors stay at home longer and more safely.
- There are many different kinds of technologies that can keep our seniors connected with their loved ones near and far to prevent isolation and depression.
- There are monitors that can track their activity, trend it and alert family caregivers when there are irregularities which could signal trouble.
- “Edge detection” technologies are helping seniors stay safe at home.
- There are safety interventions such as fall mats, stove shutoffs, remote access, and programmable home features which can be connected directly to family caregivers.
- And then there is medical monitoring! We can get real time updates on physical measurements such as blood pressure, blood sugar, weights, breathing status and whether they have taken medications correctly.
Naturally this technology can advance with our senior adults as their needs change. It is not simply adding grab bars in the bathroom anymore that can keep our seniors safe and living independently although home modifications are vital as well.
Renovations and technology can help our seniors stay at home (wherever it is they choose) longer and safer.
Granny pods are a concept that is gaining some traction. It is the practice of adding a space, using new construction, separate from the family home for an aging parent (or two) on your property.
Also called a MEDCottage, it is designed to fit into a backyard and provides a personal and private space with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. You don’t exactly have to live in the same dwelling as your senior loved ones, but can be close enough to assist as needed while honoring their privacy and independence.
The beauty of this dwelling is that it is set up for aging, technology is wired in and safety modifications are installed from the beginning. Smart devices are included and you can even have a lift built into the ceiling to make it easy to get in and out of bed or the chair once mobility is a concern.
This arrangement gives the best of both worlds, keeping your senior independent but close by.
Cottages are independent homes, nestled together with suitable amenities such as dining, fitness, and socialization opportunities. No maintenance is required by the resident, either in the home or outside area. Some find the cost of living in a cottage to be less than living in their home, due to energy efficiency and cost of upkeep.
Many offer opportunities to progress with services along the continuum of care such as congregate living, skilled nursing, memory care or rehab services without needing to relocate.
Assisted Living Facilities (ALF)
An assisted living facility is a senior living community where the seniors have their own apartments and where there is supervision around the clock, help with medication administration, congregate meals or served in their room, laundry and cleaning services, socialization, and personal care.
ALF’s can be important when living independently is no longer a viable option. Residents have to meet certain requirements and this can vary from facility to facility. It does not provide 24 hour nursing care.
Most seniors who live in an ALF pay privately but there are programs that can help financially.
Long Term Care Facilities (LTC)
Long term care facilities are today’s version of the nursing homes of the past — but with patient centered culture.
The stereotypical nursing home is evolving into a more patient centered place, where the dignity and self-choice of the resident is part of the plan. They receive 24 hour nursing care, have a team of health professionals to treat them holistically, attend activities of their choice, socialize, eat congregate meals, receive medications from a nurse as well as other services in a homelike setting.
Not all nursing homes are the same and you should pick your senior loved one’s long term care facility carefully and remain their advocate. You can use Nursing Home Compare to help guide your decisions.
Often a LTC facility is needed when your senior’s health and mobility has declined to the point that they need 24 hour care and supervision.
A stay in LTC is not paid by Medicare but can be paid by Medicaid if your senior is eligible. A short term stay in a LTC facility or rehab following surgery or hospitalization can be paid by Medicare in order to provide skilled nursing for recovery before your senior returns to their home setting.
Seniors Aging in Place Dreams
Many families are realizing their dream of assisting their senior loved ones to stay as independent as possible as long as possible in the home they love. This is going to be best accomplished with the support of new technology and new ways of living within the ever changing systems to help our senior loved ones age successfully in the manner of their choosing.
A major determinant of how well and where senior adults can age in place is finances. Have they budgeted enough money for in-home care if needed or for a facility of their choice?
Medical costs as well as costs of living can create obstacles as time goes on for many seniors to continue to enjoy the aging in place situation of their dreams.
Another factor in how and where your senior loved one will be aging in place is their medical condition. Are they staying healthy now and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as they age? Being mobile and able to care for themselves as much as possible will direct their ability to remain independent or dependent on nursing care. Staying active each day will help them achieve their goals.
Now is the time to be talking with senior loved ones about their dreams for aging and helping them take the actions needed to be in a position to realize those dreams.