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Nursing Homes Not the Only Care and Housing Option

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April 12, 2010

Over the past 10-15 years the number of housing and care options for seniors has grown as the baby boomer population has aged. Each option comes with its benefits, but not all options are best suited for every person.

Below are some housing options, ranging from independent care to long-term facilities:

Living at Home with Help:
By far, this is the favorite option for many families and seniors. In fact, close to nine out of ten seniors (89%), according to Home Instead Senior Care's national survey, say that they are very or somewhat likely to remain in their homes rather than move to a care facility. Thus, it's important to make home improvements that adapt to your loved one's limitations. Whether it's your own home or your aging loved one's home, it is recommended to have an environmental safety assessment conducted.In a recent caregiver survey conducted by Home Instead Senior Care, of over 5,000 professional caregivers, 57% identified loose area rugs/tripping hazards as the top safety issue  followed by "no life alert" or other emergency alert system (46%) when they began working for their client. By spotting these types of hazards and taking simple steps to correct them, unnecessary injuries can be avoided. A professional environmental safety assessment will help determine what, if any, alterations need to be made to the house. The goal is to make the senior's living space safe and functional.

Assistance with daily living tasks can be helpful too, not only for the senior but also for family caregivers and spousal caregivers. Home Instead Senior Care offers a wide range of non-medical services to help seniors remain in their own homes, including grocery shopping, transportation, meal preparation, daily medication reminders and light housekeeping. However, one of the greatest benefits of having a professional caregiver is the ongoing companionship they provide that many seniors need to help them stay physically and mentally active.

Besides keeping older family members more independent in their own homes, non-medical senior care gives peace of mind to family members and helps them juggle the demands of their work and family lives. Home Instead Senior Care is a national eldercare service. Many offices provide advanced training in Alzheimer's care to their professional caregivers.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities:
These 'communities' offer a single campus that includes independent living apartments and homes, assisted living apartments, home health care and skilled nursing care. As the senior's needs increase, they can move to living arrangements that accommodate those needs. While the costs vary widely depending on what part of the country you live, this is typically an option viable for people who have extensive savings placed aside for their retirement.

Shared Living:
Shared housing for seniors comes in multiple forms: senior apartments often run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, offer apartments for seniors of modest income. You enjoy having private space among colleagues without the hassle of maintaining a home. You'll need to call your local housing authority to find out the income limits as they vary from state to state. If your income is higher, there are places that cater to an older clientele usually offering amenities like transportation, shopping services, maintenance and a friendly doorman. Many faith-based organizations will help find a roommate for seniors with extra space in their home who also want the company.

Assisted Living:
Most people who live in assisted living facilities have health- or age-related conditions that make living alone tough and, in some instances, unsafe. A professionally-trained staff assists individuals with their tasks of daily living. Specialized care for residents suffering from dementia is offered by some facilities. These facilities vary widely in their services and can be very expensive. Take great care to ask a lot of questions and get lists of what is and isn't included. It's also important to note that the next step from assisted living is into nursing care, so be sure to consider that when looking at long-term plans.

Two care options that don't involve moving your senior are respite care and non-medical senior care.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. July 9, 2014 at 8:28 am | Posted by Deb

    I too am a single caregiver to both Dad who has Alzheimer's and has had a stroke in the past 7 months. Mom has dementia and a bad knee which will be replaced this month. Dad is 100% full assist and is incontinent. I am the oldest of 3 girls and neither sister do anything to help out. I call their visits Happy Visits! Their history of visits has been in and out in less than an hour and never offer to lift a finger to help. Guess they are pretty happy! Right? When I have requested help I have received comments such as hire it or I cannot commit. I use to fill them in on health updates on our parents but since they don't care I don't any longer. I'm blessed to have a friend that lives in the home and helps with bathing Dad and diaper changes but this is getting very stressful and tiring. Assisted Living has been tried but do to all of Dads health issues most people won't take him again. I hate to think of putting him back into a nursing home as they do not care for patients! Been there for 30 days and saw Dad decline before my eyes! I have respite care 3 times a week but need more so that can leave and visit my kids out of state. Suggestions on dependable care and helpers would be appreciated.

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  2. September 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Posted by Gail cooper

    My sister and her mentally challenged daughter, age 47, are at a point where they need full time help due to many health problems, or perhaps a facility that would benefit both of them. My niece is well and mostly independent and able to use computer some. Is there any facility that would benefit both of them?

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  3. July 2, 2011 at 9:57 am | Posted by Katie

    I have spent the last 2 months taking care of my 56 yr old brother. I was on FMLA from work. My brother is an alcoholic with an increasing number of related seizures. He was released from the hospital in April unable to walk or speak coherently. He has lived with our parents for the last 10 years because he just won't take care of himself (mom is 87 and dad is 85 who both have their own issues but able to live independently). I know that my brother had brain damage during his last episode of seizures while in the hospital. He walks and talks, often making no sense. He does things he didn't used to do. He eats things he didn't used to eat. And his mood changes frequently. We all walk on eggshells around him because we don't want to set him off. We never know where his mind is going to be from minute to minute. In all this extra time I have spent with them the last 2 months, I have come to realize that my parents nr 1 don't want my brother to live there anymore and nr 2 are in need of my services for driving them around, cooking and doing all the little stuff that needs to be done. I just want someone to tell me what to do with my brother!! He has no wife or kids. Just the immediate family. I am really upset with him because his medical conditions forced me to cancel my travel plans to go to Germany to see my daughter. That's where my son is right now. We were going to fly there together. And that makes me soooo sad (mad, angry, tearful, depressed)!

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  4. June 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Posted by Rebecca

    Hi Meryl - I totally understand where you are coming from. My mom has been sick since I was in my early twenties and she had multiple surgeries while I was a child. It is amazing that a person as sick as she has been is still alive. Fortunately I do not have the daily day to day stress of her care as she is in a skilled nursing facility. But the decades of stress of the continued worry of her bad health and now fear of financial ruination are really taking a toll. It is difficult to feel happy about things. Hope that things are going better for you!!

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  5. October 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Posted by Meryl Resnick

    My 95 yr. old mother lives in an expensive assisted liviing home.The food is awful.Everyone is dying all around her. She'd like to die ,but...She has macular degeneration and is 96% blind.She has a bad stomach and a bad back.The problem is her brain is still working so she is aware of everything around her. She graduated with a masters from Columbia.She's eating up her money which would go to her grandchildre.I must admit she was never a nice person and she is much worse now. My sister takes her out once a week,but comes home for a valium.It's a nightmere.

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