Today's post is written by Generational Coach Barbara Friesner of AgeWise Living. Barbara works with the family members of the aging person, not the elder themselves. I typically work with the family and the elder, but I consider the elder to be my client.
Barbara's post outlines the many different living situations open to a person who is growing older and needing more assistance. As you can see, the choices aren't just "home or nursing home." An elder law attorney can assist in the case of an elder in transition by making sure their important documents like health care proxies, wills, durable powers of attorney and other documents are up to date and still reflect a person's wishes. An attorney can also assist with referrals to home care agencies and geriatric care managers, and help the family determine how the care will be paid for.
As a Generational Coach, I work with family members (only the family – never the senior). I help them know what to do and how to communicate effectively so their aging loved one will actually do what’s in their best interest. I help them with all sorts of issues but one that comes up frequently is should Mom and/or Dad live at home (which may be too much for them or perhaps is no longer safe) or move into a nursing home. Why those two options – all or nothing – home or a nursing home? Because often those are the only 2 options they know.
And unfortunately, most of the time, the family calls me after they’ve mentioned the nursing home option to their aging loved one and now their aging loved one won’t talk to them any more!
Before bring up the topic with your aging loved one, here are some other housing options to consider:
~ Stay at home but with help such as having someone (such as a handy-person or a neighborhood kid) help them maintain the house (inside and/or out) and/or help with the cleaning
~ Stay at home with an in-home aide
Depending on the level of care needed (as in – whether they need medical care or not), an in-home aide can help with such things as:
• Conversation and companionship
• Meal preparation (and feeding, if necessary)
• Light housekeeping
• Errand services including grocery shopping
• Medication reminders
• Incidental transportation
• Laundry and linen washing
• Recreational activities and crafts
• Transferring and positioning
• Hygiene such as bathing, toileting, incontinence care, grooming and dressing guidance, etc.
~ Move into a smaller, more manageable home.
This may include:
Senior Apartment: Age-restricted multiunit housing for older adults who are able to care for themselves. Usually no additional services such as meals or transportation are provided.
Independent Living: a residential living setting for senior adults that may or may not provide hospitality or supportive services. Under this living arrangement, the senior is independent and requires minimal or no extra assistance. Generally referred to as elderly housing in the government-subsidized environment, independent living also includes rental assisted or market rate apartments or cottages where residents usually have complete choice in whether to participate in a facility's services or programs.
~ A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) offers several levels of assistance, including independent living, assisted living and nursing home care. It is different from other housing and care facilities for seniors because it usually provides a written agreement or long-term contract between the resident (frequently lasting the term of the resident's lifetime) and the community which offers a continuum of housing, services and health care system, commonly all on one campus or site.
~ An Assisted Living community
An Assisted Living community provides a combination of housing, personalized supportive services and health care designed to meet the needs – both scheduled and unscheduled – of those who need help with activities of daily living.
Services provided in Assisted Living residences usually include:
• Three meals a day served in a common dining area
• Housekeeping and personal laundry services
• Social and recreational activities including health promotion and exercise programs
• Access to health and medical services
• Medication management
• Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and walking is also usually available
~ If there is a medical need – Nursing Home:
A nursing home provides 24-hour skilled care for the more acute patients (one step below hospital acute care). Patients generally rely on assistance for most or all daily living activities (such as bathing, dressing and toileting). Regular medical supervision and rehabilitation therapy are mandated to be available, and nursing homes are eligible to participate in the Medicaid program. These facilities are State Licensed and pre-admission screening is usually required.
As you can see, there are a broad range of options between ‘all or nothing’. And there are other options and variations within these options. And remember, if you are concerned that your elderly parent needs help now or may shortly and you don't know how to proceed, I urge you not to wait for a crisis to develop. Please call me toll-free (877) AGE-WISE or email me at Barbara@AgeWiseLiving.com for a complimentary "get acquainted" conversation. I'm here to help!
If you or your parent is in transition and wondering what your options are, are wondering how you'll pay for the different living situations, or you want to make sure your estate documents are up to date and still reflect your wishes, please call my office to make an appointment at 781-749-2284.