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January 10, 2018

Helping Loved Ones Maintain Suitable Living Arrangements

by Sanda Ljubovic

Helping an aging adult move out of a current home is both emotionally and practically complex. We all want our loved ones to thrive in suitable living arrangements. To help, you need to first evaluate their situation, know the available options in their community, and then enable your loved one to make a responsible and informed decision.

Senior woman with her home caregiver

If you are concerned about a loved one, there are many questions that you should begin asking yourself about their living arrangement.

  • Does your loved one have the skills needed to live independently, including dressing, cooking, managing medications etc.?
  • Can your loved one still get around town to run errands or go see their doctor, either driving or with public transportation?
  • Did your loved one recently take a fall or have a medical scare?
  • How did your loved one weather their most recent illness?
  • Does your loved one have a chronic health condition that’s worsening such as dementia, congestive heart failure that will require increasing help?
  • Is their clutter in the house? A lot of clutter could be a sign of a neurological or physical issue.
  • Does your loved one have noticeable weight loss? If you observe a noticeable weight loss it might indicate that cooking, or even remembering to eat, is getting difficult.

If you feel at all uncomfortable about any of your answers, the next step would be to gather input from others who are close to your loved one. Talk to close friends, relatives, and primary doctors. Additionally, a social worker or professional geriatric care manager can complete an informal evaluation.

In Home Care

If your loved one has a full life and seems to be thriving with minor cause for concern, it’s worth exploring in-home options before pressing for a move away from a beloved home. Options for in-home assistance include:

  • In-home care: In-home care is a service that provides caregivers who will come into the home to assist with activities of daily living. Typically, different schedules can be arranged with care givers. They offer light housekeeping, meal preparation, personal care, etc., but they do not provide medical care.
  • In-home medical care: Home health agencies provide medical care in your home. Doctors prescribe home healthcare when someone needs help recovering from surgery, an accident, or a serious illness. Home healthcare is an option when your loved one is not ill enough to be in a hospital but is not yet well enough to be home alone. Home healthcare agencies are licensed by the state and must also adhere to Federal regulations.

Retirement Homes

If you and others determine that a move is appropriate for your loved one, there are a few common housing options.

  • Independent living facilities: Independent living facilities, also referred to as retirement communities, offer older adults with limited care needs a simplified lifestyle. Often, they are apartment complex with amenities such as housekeeping, prepared meals, fitness programs and other classes to enrich and make life simple for older adults. But they also have assisted-living and nursing-level care. In this “continuum-of-care” system, residents usually enter the facility at the independent living level. Later, if their health and abilities decline, they can move to the assisted living tier, and then, if necessary, to the nursing-home tier.
  • Assisted living communities: Assisted living communities help people stay as independent as possible while offering necessary help. They frequently offer services like planned activities, housekeeping and laundry, transportation, meals, exercise and wellness programs. Assisted living communities sometimes offer limited medical assistance, but not skilled nursing.
  • Memory care communities: Memory care communities specialize in providing care to aging adults with several types of cognitive problems including Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Continuing care communities: Continuing care communities enable residents to age in a single community without having to relocate as their needs evolve. Usually they offer independent living along with assisted living and/or skilled nursing care.
  • Nursing homes: Nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities, provide care to those with illnesses or mental conditions requiring full-time monitoring and medical care. Most skilled nursing residents live in semi-private rooms, and meals are generally provided.

It is very important to include your loved one throughout the decision making process.  Nowadays, there are an increasing number of housing options to consider, which allow families to tailor the fit of the environment to the need of the individual. You know a decision is right when all parties involved feel good about the final result. Ultimately, the right choice for you and your loved ones is unique to your specific situation.

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