For most families, there will come a time to explore living arrangements and other options for aging parents or loved ones. As they age, it is important to have a plan in place for where they will reside in the next phase of their senior years. A thoughtful plan will allow the most comfortable transition for both the senior and the family.
As you start exploring these options, keep in mind the family member’s roles in the transition. Knowing who will be able to help provide care, help to relocate, and offer emotional support along the way are great things to have in mind.
1. What kind of care do they need?
The first thing to consider when exploring senior living options is what type of care they need. Can they safely get around their home? Are they able to administer their medications? Are they able to eat, bathe, and use the restroom independently? How much supervision do they require?
Taking into account the senior’s ability to care for themself can give a glimpse into what type of living scenario they will thrive in. The type of care needed can also help narrow down available options. Family members may be able to provide care as well, but, keep in mind your physical abilities and time allotment as you consider these arrangements.
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2. How important is a sense of community?
After you determine the kind of care your loved one needs, you might want to consider senior living communities. A sense of community and purpose gives your loved ones comfort as they transition into this next phase of their life.
Senior living community is an umbrella term for housing options that allow seniors to live among peers. Let’s explore some of the most common options: independent or assisted living community. Both communities offer just that, community The main difference between independent and assisted living is the type of care provided in each.
Independent Living Community
Moving into an independent living community offers your loved one the ability to maintain their independence, with help very close by should they need it. Independent communities are for seniors who are capable of caring for themselves and do not require assistance. If your family member can care for themselves but no longer desire the responsibility of homeownership, an independent living community might be a perfect fit.
Assisted Living Community
Choosing to have a loved one move into an assisted living center can be a little more challenging decision. It can be hard for both the senior and the family to admit that they do need a little more assistance sometimes. Assisted living centers are for seniors who require some help with daily living, cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc. While an assisted living center does not offer full supervision, there are nurses and aids available to help the seniors with their daily activities.
If your loved one would prefer being around other individuals their age, a senior living community is a great option. When determining which senior living community would be the best suited, take note of the special amenities provided by the community you are considering. Having an idea of what your loved one hopes to gain from living in this atmosphere will play a role in which community will be the best fit.
Joining a senior living community that offers a full range of programs and engaging activities will help seniors build relationships and feel at home. Some communities offer passion project programs and other extracurricular activities to provide a fulfilling experience. Choosing a community that provides nutritious and good-tasting food is also important. It will ensure proper nutrition to keep the seniors' health intact and their bodies strong.
3. Would they be better suited at home?
Allowing your loved ones to age in place offers the most comfort to them. If this is the route they would like to pursue, there are many home modifications you can have done to make their home safer and easier to navigate. Some common ones to consider are grab bars near the toilet and in the shower, secure handrails, and ramps. You can also consider smart home upgrades, such as an emergency call system in case of an accident or fall and an updated home security system.
Some people who age in place might need regular check ins. Home health care is a great option to maintain their comfort but also ensure their medical needs are being met. They might also benefit from home care services, like personal care or companionship. Family members can also work together to see where they can help whether it is cooking a meal, cleaning, or running errands. Frequent at-home interaction will also keep your loved one from feeling lonely or isolated.
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4. What is the cost?
The costs involved in senior care are a large consideration. Open discussion about the cost of each senior care scenario will allow you to make the best decision based on your loved one’s financial security.
As a close family member, sometimes this financial planning becomes partly your responsibility. If you have to make minor home modifications to age in place or cover expenses to help your family member relocate, assessing savings account funds, credit card eligibility, or understanding how a personal line of credit works can help you be better financially prepared. Having a secure financial plan in place will alleviate that stress surrounding an already stressful time.
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Everyone can agree that they want their parents and loved ones to live their final years to their fullest ability and to be happy and comfortable doing so. Whatever route your family chooses, include the aging senior in the decision-making process. Giving them the autonomy to choose for themselves can aid the transition.
It is hard to watch loved ones age but there is comfort in knowing they are safe in an environment best suited for their needs and abilities. To learn more about senior living options, reach out to your local Caring team.