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Senior Living: What Are My Options?

 
Seniors and older adults have a wide range of living options available to them in their aging years.  Whether you are planning ahead to find a suitable living arrangement for yourself in the future, or you feel it is time that your elderly loved one had some living assistance of their own, it helps to know and understand your options.

In-Home or Relocation

The first question you should answer is:  do you or your senior require help at home, or is relocation needed?  If you feel as though the most difficult tasks to perform are activities of daily living including house cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, or laundry, you may decide that senior home care will suffice.  On the other hand, if your elderly relative has become physically frail, ill, or alarmingly forgetful, moving to a senior-friendly residence may be the wisest choice.

Senior Home Care

Seniors enjoy their autonomy.  When their independence is threatened, it is common for seniors to feel hurt, frustrated, angry, or appear in denial.  This strong desire to maintain our independence as we grow old is part of what has spawned a new dimension of elderly care:  senior home care.
Most senior home care organizations will customize their services to suit your needs or the needs of your loved one.  You may require caregiver visits once a week, every day, or around the clock, in which case a full time live-in caregiver is best.
Senior at-home caregivers can offer the following services:
  • Meal preparation
  • Housekeeping
  • Washing and bathing
  • Errand running
  • Companionship
  • Respite care for family caregivers
It is important to take note of the fact that every company is different.  Identify what your living needs are.  Make a list so that when you contact different businesses, you can ask them direct questions and quickly find out whether or not they will be able to meet your demands.

Making the Move

If you decide that relocating to some place outside the home is best, there are numerous senior living options to evaluate.  Here are a few to consider:
If you are capable of caring for your elderly loved one in the evenings and on weekends but you would feel comfortable if they had some place to go during the day, consider adult day care.  Adult day care services vary from one place to another but in general, are known to support, supervise and monitor seniors during their time spent there.  
Some adult day care services are specialized to meet the needs of a particular senior group.  For example, one service may cater to a specific nationality so that attendees can speak comfortably in their native tongue.  Others may serve only those seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another specified disability.  Be sure to inquire and consult with the adult day care services you are considering before making a final decision.
Independent Senior Living
If you or your senior loved one is quite capable of living independently, but wishes to experience a resident-style environment in the company of other seniors, consider independent living.  There are a wide range of seniors’ communities, buildings and apartments that offer the comfort of home in a tightly knit environment which delivers a strong sense of belonging and social involvement.  Many seniors’ independent living locations give you the option to choose helpful services if needed including on-call assistance, meal plans, personalized services and group activities.
Emerging in the 1990s, Assisted Living Facilities are known to be the logical step after independent living is no longer viable, but the senior is not yet in need of 24-hour medical care (as you would find at a nursing home or long term care facility).  An assisted living facility provides assistance with common activities of daily living, can coordinate efforts between senior residents and outside health care providers, and monitors seniors’ overall health and safety.
A retirement home is a multi-unit residential building in which each individual senior or senior couple has their own apartment-style room or group of rooms.  A retirement community or village on the other hand, is a neighborhood in which residents have their own separate homes within the community, usually sharing common amenities.
Retirement homes and communities vary enormously in level, class, care and amenities provided.  It is essential that you learn about each place you are considering for yourself or your senior relative to ensure that your essential wants and needs will be met.
If you have come to the realization that your elderly loved one requires constant and professional nursing care that you are unable to provide, you may want to explore the option of a nursing home.  A long term care facility offers seniors continual care around the clock as they age in a place where they are given the attention they need.
Should your senior loved one be suffering from a serious disease and you want nothing more than for their symptoms to be reduced and their pain minimized, palliative care or hospice care may be your answer.  Palliative care focuses on the elimination of pain and symptoms, rather than fighting the disease or applying treatments to cure it.  This form of care aims to relieve suffering and enhance quality of life.
In the United States, palliative care is distinct from hospice care in the sense that hospice care delivers palliative care to those at the end of life, specifically.  In both Canada and the United States, palliative and hospice care can be provided in-home, or in a hospital or other medical out-of-home setting.
 
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