In the fall of 2012, Hebrew SeniorLife gathered together geriatric thought-leaders, researchers and physicians for our inaugural "You and Your Aging Parents" program, an important discussion about the steps one should take to help aging parents as they make decisions regarding health and well-being. Overwhelmingly positive response indicates the need for this information and Hebrew SeniorLife continues to offer this program. Check our events listing for upcoming events.
In addition, we published expert advice from the first program in an ebook, “You and Your Aging Parents,” which Hebrew SeniorLife is offering as a free downloadable pdf. The discussion also inspired our “You and Your Aging Parents” blog series, a series that includes this blog post and covers the various issues and concerns you may encounter as you and your parent/s continue on the journey of aging.
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 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.
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.