Nowadays Living Options Abound

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Living arrangement options have exploded in recent years. In the past seniors who were essentially healthy but in need of limited assistance were forced to choose one of two options: live with relatives or in a nursing home.

That’s no longer the case. There are a variety of options currently available including Alzheimer/dementia specialty care, assisted living, nursing homes, continuing-care facilities, congregate housing and home care. Not only is there a wealth of new choices but some of the more traditional options are being overhauled and becoming more customer focused. Cost may the deciding factor.

Alzheimer/dementia facilities are tailored to encourage individual skills and hobbies in an environment that minimizes confusion and agitation. The staff is trained to work with individuals with impaired memory. Color-coded hallways, secure grounds for wandering, and visual cues help residents remain oriented and contribute to a safe environment. These facilities are not the only option for those with these illnesses, assisted living facilities and nursing homes report that close to 50% of their residents have either Alzheimer’s or some type of dementia. Alzheimer and dementia patients often reside in more closely supervised quarters on the property.

Assisted living combines the privacy and independence of a separate room or suite with meals – often in a group dining area, 24-hr. access to trained staff, and additional assistance as needed. It is ideal for those who need help with regular tasks such as bathing, dressing, medication, etc. This option is about $2,000 a month but fees escalate with increased care needs. “The assisted-living movement has really changed the way people age,” comments Karen Wayne, president of the industry trade group Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA). ALFA estimates that the average age of residents is 83.

For those who require around the clock medical attention and have the desire to live in a residential setting, nursing homes may be the best option. They provide care for elderly with deteriorating mental or physical abilities and facilitate daily tasks. The average rate is nearly $50,000 per year. Some modern nursing homes are including a service that is geared towards rehabilitation and short-term stays post hospitalization.

Continuing-care facilities offer diversity in housing and the convenience of a multitude of services in one location. This environment is tailored for those who desire to have their increasing health needs attended to without the hassle of relocating. The majority have a mandatory entry fee along with monthly payments of $1,500 to $5,000.

Congregate housing enables individuals to have their own home within a residential compound. Group activities and meals are provided along with 24-hr. security and laundry service. The cost ranges from $1,200 to $2,000 and up.

Home care appeals to many elderly who wish to remain in their home but are in need of assistance. Home care encompasses the basics like grocery shopping, chores or transportation to more sophisticated treatments like physical therapy and on site medical attention. Nurse care can also be provided in the home. Some organizations offer free services to seniors. It is easy to find nurses or aides through home care agencies. On average visits cost $80. The more time and care required, the more expensive this option costs.

It’s important to research the facility you are interested in. Nursing homes are federally regulated but assisted-living communities are a responsibility of the state and have individual policies. Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CCAC) is a private organization that rates continuing-care communities. It’s always beneficial to speak with residents of the facility and spend time on the premises to get the “feel” of the location.

Sources: CNN News

Senior Alternatives

Continuing Care Accreditation Commission

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