Senior living isn’t what it used to be…it’s better. Today’s options are more comfortable, more personal, more supportive, and more fun. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all nursing home care. Today’s modern senior living experience is considerately crafted for each individual need.
With easy-to-maintain private apartments and homes, independent living communities offer the most versatility and freedom. These housing arrangements— commonly available to residents 55+— come with a variety of services and resources designed to make daily tasks easier. Independent living might include separate cottages, but nearly all have apartments in one building with shared amenities. Not having to worry about preparing meals, doing laundry or dealing with the chore of cleaning, seniors within independent living communities can spend their time doing the activities they love, joining in-group events, or taking advantage of complimentary transportation to local clinics, shopping malls, and recreational facilities. For active seniors who are relatively self-sufficient, independent living is more like moving to a new neighborhood where they can rely on a little extra help whenever needed.
Sometimes referred to as assisted care, these communities are tailored for individuals who can no longer live alone, but who don’t require a high level of medical attention. The caring staff in assisted living communities provide housekeeping, assistance with medication, engagement with daily activities, and are on-call 24 hours a day to ensure the resident’s comfort and safety. Meals are commonly provided in a central dinning room, but many of the private apartments come with small kitchen areas to maintain personal freedom.
And, should your loved one’s health start to decline, most assisted living communities have licensed nursing services already in place to provide necessary care without having to transfer their residents.
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Certified memory care facilities go to great lengths to provide comfort and care to seniors struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s. These specialized communities strive to provide the right balance of safety, support, and independence within a warm and vibrant environment. They really do go the extra mile to make residents feel at home. Commonly, residents begin at an assisted living center and then move to an associated memory care community that can better meet their changing needs. Many communities are located within beautiful, calming surroundings for peaceful, therapeutic exposure to nature.
With highly trained nurses and a dedicated, compassionate staff always on hand, memory care provides the devoted attention individuals struggling with memory loss may require.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are a combination of every level of senior housing in one campus or building. The idea behind CCRCs is that you can more or less stay in the same place until the end—the staff gets to know you and your unique needs and preferences. Benefits include social interaction, freedom, activities, wellness programs, a low-maintenance lifestyle, dining options, security, and peace of mind.
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For those wishing to remain in their homes, home care providers help seniors maintain their independence while offering extra assistance with tedious tasks. With regular visits to assist with meals, dressing, transportation, companionship and emotional support, these caretakers build their schedule around the individual’s needs and circumstances. Fully licensed, and with strong connections within the senior living community, home care providers are often prepared to help homeowners and their families transition to the next level of necessary care when/if the need arrives.
Support services for caregivers
It’s common today for Baby Boomers—and those in the even younger generation—to care for their aging parents. According to an AARP survey, more than 42 million Americans provide family caregiving for an adult. When Mom or Dad moves in, or you’re suddenly responsible for checking in on one or both of your parents on a regular basis, the stage is set for a rewarding, stressful, and physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining experience.
It’s powerful work, and a lot of people aren’t completely prepared for the highs and lows. Many times, caregivers do their job in isolation, while juggling a full-time job and/or other family obligations. The hectic schedule of caring for a parent can leave a caregiver with a sense of depletion. Here are some resources and tips to make the process less stressful:
- Some congregations have active support networks to honor, support, and celebrate the individuals and families involved in caregiving.
- Physical and occupational therapists, home health aides, and nurses can teach you techniques that will make your job easier and make sure that you and the person you are helping aren’t injured. Talk to your doctor for more information.
- Research federal, state, and private benefit programs for everything from prescription drugs to taxes at benefitscheckup.org, a service of the National Council on Aging.
- A variety of print and online materials for elders, their families, and professionals regarding housing, medical, caregiving, and services for seniors is available on aoa.gov.
- Resources for the elderly and their caregivers on financial matters, health care, living arrangements, and social, mental, and legal issues is available on elderweb.com.
The Family Caregiver Alliance provides a database of publicly funded caregiving resources in every state at caregiver.org.
• According to AXA Equitable, “If you provide more than half of a parent’s support, you may be able to claim your parent as your dependent, giving you a tax exemption for each parent so cared for and allowing you to write off much of the medical expenses. (Note: The dependent exemption phases out at higher income levels. Check with your tax advisor.) You may also be able to claim a federal tax credit that will enable you to deduct a portion of the cost of in-home care or day care. Another option is the flexible spending account (FSA), which lets you pay for a certain amount of care each year with pretax dollars.” Talk to your tax advisor.
• Don’t wait for a crisis situation to make important health care decisions. Discuss long-term care options ahead of time.