Are you considering independent or assisted living for a loved one? Here are a few of the many factors to weigh when making this important decision. Use this Community Comparison Worksheet to keep track of your thoughts.
Planning for your future
Aging is a time of adaptation and change. In order to continue thriving as you age, you need to plan ahead to make sure you can maintain your independence for as long as possible. This may mean modifying your own home, or it could mean moving to a senior housing facility that can provide more support options. When planning ahead, consider the needs you might have in the future:
- Physical and medical needs. As you age, you may need some help with physical needs, including activities of daily living. This could range from shopping, cleaning, and cooking to intensive help with bathing, toileting, moving around, and eating. There is also the issue of increasing medical needs. These could arise from a sudden condition, such as a heart attack or stroke, or a more gradual condition that slowly needs more and more care. The fact is, about 70 percent of individuals over the age of 65 will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
- Social and emotional needs. As you age, your social networks may change. Friends or family may not be as close by, and neighbors may move or pass on. You want to make sure that you have continuing opportunities for maintaining and building new social networks, which can be much more difficult should you become infirm or otherwise housebound.
- Financial needs. As you age, long-term care can become expensive. Balancing the care you need with where you want to live requires careful evaluation of your budget. The key is to find the facility that can affordably allow you to remain independent longer.
Understanding senior housing options
A variety of housing options available to seniors with the main difference being the amount of care provided for daily living and for medical care. Generally, these options include:
Independent living basically includes any housing arrangement designed exclusively for seniors. These may be apartment complexes, condominiums, or even free-standing homes. In general, the housing is friendlier to older adults, with easier navigation and assistance in outside maintenance. Sometimes recreational centers or clubhouses are also available on site.
Independent living properties can provide minor assistance with activities of daily living you might need or want. That assistance can include a lot of the maintenance and upkeep for your home, providing some or all of your meals - either in a common dining area with other residents or delivered to your residence - and providing a variety of social activities you can enjoy with your peers who live close by.
An assisted living community offers a combination of housing, personal support and health care services designed to meet the needs - both planned and unplanned - of those who need help with daily activities. Services provided in assisted living residential communities usually include: three meals a day served in a common dining area; housekeeping services; assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and walking; and social and recreational activities.
An assisted living facility may be a good choice if you don't require round-the-clock medical care and supervision, but need more personal care services than are feasible at home or in an independent living retirement community, including ready help in the case of a fall or other medical emergency.
Memory Care facilities are specialized living arrangements for people who struggle with cognitive impairment, and who can benefit from extra protection in an assisted living or nursing home environment. While some facilities specialize exclusively in memory care services, many senior living communities have special memory care units or floors that offer special services and care for those with dementia, Alzheimer's and other forms of cognitive impairment.
It is well worth the time and effort to seek out a "perfect" community when the need arises to move. Moving is traumatic and multiple moves can be disastrous for both the individual and their families. When the community is designed to accommodate patients with special needs, and the staff is trained to understand and strives to improve the condition of their patients, those in their care tend to thrive rather than waste away.
Skilled Nursing Care:
Skilled nursing home care is designed for individuals who require full-time care, or assistance with most, if not all, daily activities. One step below hospital acute care, skilled nursing communities are licensed and offer medical care by trained medical staff, such as a registered nurse or therapist, 24 hours a day. They may also include physical therapy, memory support services, and other types of specialized care, such as occupational and other rehabilitative therapies following an accident or illness. They are typically Medicare/Medicaid-certified. Monthly fees include meals, personal assistance and most medical services (except for medications). Also called convalescent homes or rest home, these senior living options range in size from small to very large, and offer a variety of services.
Rehabilitative Care Centers:
Rehabilitative care centers are specialized facilities that offer intensive rehabilitation services to people recovering from incapacitating events. If a loved one suffers a stroke or has a bad fall, he may need to temporarily relocate from his senior care facility to a rehab center in order to relearn some physical skills such as walking or speaking. Hospitals will keep a patient only so long and insurance is very specific about what is covered and for how long. The rehabilitative care center picks up where the hospital care ends, working with the patient to improve their condition to the point that they are able to return to their previous living arrangement. Some skilled nursing facilities offer rehabilitative care as well.
Selling Real Estate For Seniors:
Selling real estate for older adults can be a complex and stressful situation for the family, often complicated by several dynamics and constraints. To help ease the burden, The National Association of Realtors (NAR) established their Senior Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) program in 2007. Realtors® who invest the time to earn their SRES® credential cultivate a unique view of today's market, including the sale of older homes, senior housing options and the logistics of relocation. They also understand the implications of common financial concerns, including financing options, reverse mortgage, tax laws, probate and estate planning. Today there are approximately 15,000 SRES® Realtors® nationwide. All SRES® Realtors® meet NAR industry requirements and are supported by the SRES® Council.
An SRES® Realtor® will patiently support and stick with older clients through each step of a home sale decision and where necessary, draw upon a qualified network of other professionals to help support their clients.
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