Deciding where to grow old gracefully is tough. In fact, where you’re going to live in your old age is often the most emotionally difficult decision. When thinking or talking through the options it’s important to try to remember this:
What is a situation where I can live as fully and safely as possible as I get older?
When we age, our needs are ever changing. A “right” plan should meet a person’s needs now and in the future, while also taking into account the needs, strengths, and abilities of other family members.
It goes both ways.
Having these conversations when a loved one first starts showing signs of needing more help can be a way to decrease stress, and honor their wishes. Everyone can participate in the plan and be honest about what is important to them. They can discuss realistic options for care based on current financial status, as well as the flexibility and location of children and/or other support systems.
The one universal thing is that everybody’s needs and situations are unique.
Below is an outline of different options for housing when you or a loved one needs assistance.
Staying At Home
Many people want to stay in their homes as long as possible, but they may need more assistance. There are many services out there that can help.
Home Health Agencies
These are companies that will provide in-home caregivers to match your need. They can range from light housekeeping assistance to 24/7 skilled nursing and everything in between. From laundry to help managing medications, preparing meals, engaging conversation, and bathing or toileting, there are care attendants that can help.
It’s important to make sure that any in-home care providers come from a well respected, licensed, and bonded agency. There is more information about this in our article on finding a caregiver.
Adult daycare is exactly what it sounds like: a place where adults who need additional support can go during the day, and then return at the end of the day to their own home.
These locations are staffed by licensed care assistants, who help guests in their daily activities, provide meals, and help manage medications. They also provide entertainment and social activity which can be life-giving if your loved one is feeling lonely or isolated. Some centers even provide transportation to and from your loved one’s home.
Another possibility, if finances allow, is for a family member to add space to their house for an aging parent AND a caregiver.
Hospice provides compassionate care for people in the last phases of life so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice care can be carried out in ANY home or facility setting (with the facility’s approval), and it is a Medicare rule that the patient gets to choose their hospice care provider.
If staying in the home is becoming unmanageable or unsafe, there are many different types of residential communities.
Independent Living refers to a retirement community for older adults who want to simplify and downsize out of their home, and have limited care needs. They offer services such as housekeeping, communal meals and fitness programs, in an apartment complex setting.
Similar to independent living, but with additional care and supervision. Services may include housekeeping, laundry, meals, exercise programs, transportation, and planned activities. Many offer some medical assistance, but not skilled nursing.
These communities specialize in caring for adults with cognitive issues like Dementia or Alzheimers. They are trained to look out for and manage symptoms like wandering or aggression, and provide extra care and activities to improve communication and safety.
This is a community that offers a variety of housing options, from independent living to skilled nursing. They support older adults through different stages of aging without having to relocate as their needs change.
Nursing Homes are facilities that offer skilled nursing around the clock for those who need it. Usually there are private or semi-private rooms, and all meals are provided.
Not Sure? Take A Tour!
It’s a good idea to visit some independent, assisted living and continuing care facilities, and see which place can assist in improving your loved one’s quality of life and offer different levels of support.