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5 Living Options for Older Adults

You and Your Aging Parents
Living Options for Older Adults

This blog is part of a year-long series aimed at addressing some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from family and adult children on the topics most concerning them regarding their aging parents or loved one. In 2012 Hebrew SeniorLife published the eBook "You & Your Aging Parent: A Family Approach to Lifelong Health, Wellness & Care," a compilation of answers from HSL geriatric experts in response to the many of the most frequently asked questions. We're reposting some of the most popular Q&A posts from our original eBook which was downloaded over 2,000 times. We're also adding new Q&As throughout the series that address topics not originally included in our eBook. Sign up to receive the blog series and download our original eBook at www.hslindependentliving.org

What options are there for seniors who would prefer not to or can no longer live in their own home?

Home health aide care and/or companion support 
For seniors who prefer to stay in their own home, but need assistance with activities of daily living, private home health care can provide the additional support with ADLs: bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, medication management.  Aides may be Certified Nursing Assistants or Certified Home Health Aides. Companions can be hired to supplement and facilitate social connection. Companions do not necessarily have any medical background or training.   Home care can also be supplemented with an adult day health program or with programs at a local senior center that offers socialization, nutritious food, and is staffed by professionals.

Congregate senior housing (also called senior apartments) 
This option offers independent market rate or subsidized housing in an apartment complex with the security and conveniences of community living. It is a good choice for older adults who are looking for ways to enjoy the company of friends in a setting that supports independence and where they are able to “age in place.” Independent living communities may offer housekeeping services, laundry facilities, linen service, meals or access to meals, local transportation, and planned social activities. Some communities may even offer amenities such as swimming pool/spas, exercise facilities, lounges, and reading rooms. Health care is generally not provided, but many communities allow a home health aide or nurse to come into an apartment to assist with medicines and personal care.

Continuing Care Retirement Communitites
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (also known as CCRCs) provide a continuum of care including independent living, assisted living and nursing care in one location.  A CCRC is appealing because it offers a full range of housing, residential services and health care options as senior’s needs change over time. While the cost of living in a CCRC is often higher than other types of senior living options, residents have a lifelong assurance of knowing that increased assistance and health care services are available if needed. CCRCs provide a wide range of services and amenities to residents. In general, this type of community requires both an entrance fee and a monthly fee.

Assisted living
Assisted living is a social model of care that provides a greater level of support than in-home care, day programs or independent living. Assisted living residences typically provide all meals, housekeeping, programming, a predetermined number of hours of care each day, nursing support and assessment as well as 24-hour staffing. Assisted living residences can be standalone buildings and/or part of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC’s). They can also provide special programs for people living with dementia.  Assisted living is most often a private pay, rental model.  There are some communities that do offer subsidized rent through state programs.

Long-term care
Also commonly referred to as a nursing home, this is the housing option that offers the most medical care. Long-term care communities have physicians, medical directors, social workers, rehabilitation professionals as well as nurses on staff, and they provide around-the-clock skilled medical care. Some long-term care facilities also have units designed for seniors with specific illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease and/or other dementia-related conditions.

Geriatricians discuss the balance of quality of life and longevity with each patient to determine what is important to them. They use this knowledge to guide the patient’s medical care. Decisions are based on how tests and interventions will impact the patient’s quality of life, as well as the results from research data to support whether an intervention will impact a patient’s longevity.

Though geriatricians care for the gamut of seniors from the healthiest to the frailest, they are particularly skilled at handling complex multisystem conditions that are common in older patients.

To download your copy of our “You and Your Aging Parent” ebook, visit our website, www.agingredefined.org.

Tara Fleming Caruso, MA, LMHC's picture

About the Blogger

Collaborative Care Advisor at NewBridge on the Charles

Tara serves as the collaborative care advisor for the NewBridge campus, making her an important resource for each of our residents and their families. Tara helps each senior moving to NewBridge both understand and access the variety of supports our continuum of care offers so each can live their best life possible. Tara brings almost 25 years of elder care experience to this role, including developing an expressive therapy program in a skilled nursing facility, serving as a program manager at a dementia-specific assisted living, and working at NewBridge on the Charles since 2009. She is a...

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