Deciding where your parent should live as he or she grows older is a difficult decision. While much will depend on his or her health, there are other considerations, as well. The good news is that there are a lot of choices. The bad news? There are a lot of choices.
Narrowing down your options can be difficult but having options to choose from helps to ensure that your loved one is living the happiest, healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. So, what are some of the options? What follows are five of the most common senior living arrangements:
- Adult Communities. These neighborhoods for older adults are usually made up of houses or townhomes but also can include apartments, condos or even mobile homes. The only requirement for this type of housing is that residents are 55 years or older. Residents of these type of communities are completely independent and have no issues living on their own. The popularity of these communities stems from the fact that they allow older adults to socialize and participate in a variety of activities with other older, active adults.
- Independent Living Communities. Made up of apartment-style housing or condominiums, independent living communities also allow seniors to live with their peers. Many of these communities offer the option of private duty health care services. It is common for such communities to have a relationship with a single private duty care company. The company may even have an office located in the complex.
- Assisted Living. Similar to adult or independent living communities, assisted living offers social activities along with health care services. This apartment-style housing is designed for seniors who require help with things like meals, medication management, transportation, as well as bathing or dressing. The needs of assisted living residents can vary significantly with some residents fairly independent while others may have dementia. There are typically special units for seniors who require a higher level of care.
- Nursing Homes. Also referred to as skilled nursing or extended care facilities, nursing homes are staffed with nurses and other health professionals 24 hours a day. In some cases, seniors stay for only a short period of time, for example, to rehab from a fall or surgery. Others live there permanently. Medicare or Medicaid may cover some costs for residents of a nursing home.
- Continuing Care Retirement Community. This type of community meets the needs of all types of seniors, from independent living to highly-skilled care. As their needs change, seniors can move to an area within these communities that meets their particular needs. While expensive, these communities allow seniors to age in place. When it comes to senior living, there really is something for everyone. So how do you decide what is best for your loved one? Talking to his or her physician is a good first step so you know the level of care your loved one requires. In a perfect world, money would not be an option when it comes to deciding on the best living arrangement for an elderly parent but this is seldom the case. Therefore, it is important to set a realistic budget before you begin your search. The next step is to make a list of what you and your parent are looking for in a senior living community. Does your parent want an active social life? How much assistance does he or she need in terms of everyday activities? Are there major medical issues that need to be managed? As much as possible, try to keep your parent involved in what is a major life decision.
While it is tempting to believe that you know what is best for your parent, it is important that he or she has a say. Remember, your parent will be the one who will live there, so you want to make sure it is a place where he or she can be well-cared for, happy and comfortable—for years to come.