Understanding Senior Living
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The two-story house with the big backyard was perfect 40 years ago, when your mom was able to maintain the yard, effortlessly go up and down the stairs, and easily care for the extra space.
Today, Mom relies on others to mow, rake, and shovel, going up and down the steps is a challenge, and that extra space just means extra work.
But when you suggest she consider looking into senior housing options, she adamantly refuses. No way. She loves her home and she’s NOT moving.
If this scenario sounds familiar, your aging parent or loved one could benefit from home care, a service that allows older people to remain in their own homes while receiving the assistance they need to help them remain independent. Typically, home care involves providing assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, preparing meals, transportation, paying bills, making appointments, administering medications, and providing companionship and emotional support. Home care services range from once a week to 24 hours a day depending on the needs of the client.
AT BAYWOOD HOME CARE, a locally-owned and operated home care company, clients can arrange for services a few hours a week to 24-hour care. “The type of health care that families can expect is fully equivalent to assisted living or a nursing home, except it is one-to-one care in a person’s own home,” explains Dorothy Muffett, president and owner of Baywood Home Care.
A Baywood RN is on-call 24/7 for emergency situations, and families have peace of mind knowing that their loved one is receiving quality, personalized assistance. Developing a close relationship of trust allows the caregivers to quickly identify their clients’ needs as they relate to safety and health, or emotional and social well-being. “The sole purpose of our trained caregivers is to ensure that the one client they are with—at any given time—is safe and living a good quality of life,” Muffett says.
For seniors who like the idea of spending their retirement in a community of peers with a variety of social, cultural, and fitness activities, and want to live in a place that’s comfortable, secure, and safe—without the hassles of maintaining a big house—independent living can be
“One of the biggest misconceptions about living in a senior community means losing your independence,” says Nick Kozel, Walker Methodist vice president of marketing and communication. “This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most people find their abilities increase because of amenities such as courtesy transportation, housekeeping, and enriching social programs.”
Mary Samoszuk, MARTIN LUTHER CAMPUS marketing director agrees. “Some people worry that moving to a senior setting can lead to a decline in health, when in reality, many find that their health, nutrition, socializing, spiritual needs, and transportation limitations are all being addressed in their new homes. So—in many cases—life actually improves for seniors. They gain weight, feel less isolated and lonely, and have social activities to look forward to.”
Independent living provides the greatest versatility and freedom in compact, easy-to-maintain, private apartments or homes within a community of seniors. Any housing arrangement designed exclusively for seniors (generally those age 55+; in some cases the age requirement is 62+) may be classified as an independent living community. While you have to be relatively self-sufficient to live in an independent living facility, many of these communities offer services and resources to make daily tasks easier. For example, many provide local transportation, social activities, group meals, and laundry and cleaning services, and many are located near hospitals and clinics, shopping malls, and recreational facilities.
Many senior communities also offer unique programs to enhance quality of life. At SILVERCREST PROPERTIES, wellness is a key focus. Their comprehensive SilverAdvantAGE™ program includes a full service Health and Fitness Center. Their fully staffed fitness centers include state-of-the-art computerized, self-adjusting, and easy-to-use fitness stations, an aqua therapy pool complete with an adjustable floor, variable speed treadmill, and a personal aquatic therapy instructor (ideal for residents undergoing therapy and rehabilitation), and a warm water, multi-purpose indoor pool for water aerobics and lap swimming.
One form of independent living is a housing cooperative, such as NOKOMIS SQUARE COOPERATIVE, a nonprofit corporation established in the late 70s by members of the Nokomis area in Minneapolis. Their goal was to provide senior housing in the “neighborhood.” The first members moved into Nokomis Square in 1984.
“The primary distinction between a housing cooperative and other forms of homeownership is that in a housing cooperative, you don’t directly own real estate,” explains Pam Schultz, Nokomis Square Cooperative marketing representative. “You purchase a share or a membership. Your membership entitles you to occupy the apartment or unit of your choice. Your relationship with the cooperative is established by an occupancy agreement or proprietary lease, and every membership has a share in the cooperative and a vote in major decisions and for the board of directors.”
Assisted living refers to communities designed for seniors who are no longer able to live on their own safely but don’t require the high level of care provided in a nursing home. Assistance with medications, activities of daily living, meals and housekeeping are routinely provided. Three meals per day are provided in a central dining room. Residents live in private apartments which frequently have a limited kitchen area. Staff is available 24 hours per day for additional safety. A key benefit of an assisted-living community is that, should your loved one’s health deteriorate, services are already in place to provide extra care in that same facility. Most assisted living communities provide licensed nursing services.
At YORK GARDENS IN EDINA, a new assisted living addition to the 7500 York Cooperative, living options will provide a “continuity of care” when the 47 assisted living apartments, 15 memory care apartments, and 14 care suites open in April of 2011. The care suites will offer private apartments with state-of-the-art support services for those who have more complex care requirements. A variety of rehabilitative therapies will help ease the transition to daily life after illness or surgery.
The WELLSTEAD OF ROGERS, a private-pay dementia and Alzheimer’s specific assisted living care residence located on a beautiful 20-acre “aging in place” campus in Rogers, provides a unique approach for all levels of memory loss. Only individuals with a diagnosis of dementia or other memory impairments are considered for admission. All four stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s care are provided at this campus, which also includes hospice care.
Nursing homes provide around-the-clock skilled nursing care for seniors who require a high level of medical care and assistance. Twenty-four-hour skilled nursing services are available from licensed nurses. Many nursing homes now provide short-term rehabilitative stays for those recovering from an injury, illness or surgery. Long-term care residents generally have high care needs and complex medical conditions that require routine skilled nursing services. Residents typically share a room and are served meals in a central dining area unless they are too ill to participate. Activities are also available. Some facilities have a separate unit for Alzheimer’s residents.
Residential care homes are private homes that typically serve residents who live together and receive care from live-in caretakers. These homes offer assisted care services for seniors who want a more private, home-like community. Assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing are typically provided.
The BENEDICTINE HEALTH SYSTEM is seeking to transform how skilled care is provided by constructing Minnesota’s first “small house,” a residential home where daily life, schedules, and routines are based on the needs and preferences of those who live there. CERENITY SENIOR CARE in White Bear Lake is a faith-based partnership between Benedictine Health System, Clement Manor, and HealthEast Care System.
In this proposed model, the elders live much as they would in their own home, assisting with cooking, helping with household tasks, and participating in various activities of interest. The small house will be staffed by elder assistants, responsible for direct care, cooking, laundry, and housekeeping. Construction is anticipated to begin in spring of 2011.
Respite care provides a temporary break for caregivers by allowing a resident to have a short-term stay in a community that can meet their needs. Many assisted living communities and nursing homes have a respite care program. Residents typically stay from a week to a month, depending on their situation. They receive all of the services of the community. Respite stays may also serve as a “get acquainted” period for the senior. Many residents find that they enjoy their stay and decide to move in soon after the short-term visit. Respite programs are available for assisted living and Alzheimer’s residents.
Many people do not know that home care caregivers are also trained in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s care, says Dorothy Muffett with Baywood Home Care.
“Such care can be provided in one’s own home. As illness progresses, the cost of 24-hour care at home is very comparable to the cost of 24-hour care in assisted living/memory care,” she explains. “It’s up to the family or the client to decide where they wish to receive memory care; at home or by moving.”
The best way to find the right fit is to research the options, meet the staff, ask questions, and visit, says Marlene McCarthy, senior regional sales and marketing director for EDINA PARK PLAZA, a Brookdale Senior Living community. Ask to spend a night in a guest suite or sit down to dinner with those who live there. Do the residents seem happy?
“Take the opportunity to talk with existing residents and ask why they chose that particular community, and why they choose to stay,” she says. Shirley Barnes, CEO of CREST VIEW SENIOR COMMUNITIES, says that Crest View feels like a small town, where people enjoy life together yet have privacy when they need it. “The beauty of what we have here in Minnesota is that there are so many options,” she says. Tour different places and compare the amenities.
The bottom line, though, is that the right facility for you is the facility where you feel most at home.