Elder Care Housing
If you’re a caregiver, it is important to understand what options are available for you and your loved ones, especially if you are the primary decision-maker for them. There are a number of lifestyle choices depending on the person’s physical condition and the level of care required in order to live comfortably.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCS)
Continuing Care Retirement Communities allow seniors to “age in place,” with flexible accommodations that are designed to meet health and housing needs as they change over time. Residents entering Continuing Care Retirement Communities sign a long-term contract that provides for housing, services, and nursing care...usually all in one location, enabling seniors to remain in a familiar setting as they grow older.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities provide services and facilities that allow access to independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing facilities. Seniors who are independent may live in a single-family home, apartment or condominium within the Continuing Care retirement complex. If they begin to need help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and eating, they may be transferred to an assisted living or skilled nursing facility on the same site. Seniors who live in this setting can be assured their long-term care needs will be met, and they will not have to relocate.
Any senior (single or partnered) can be a good candidate for a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Those who are independent, healthy and able to care for themselves, need some assistance with daily living, require skilled nursing care, want the security of living in a seniors-only community, no longer want (or are unable) to maintain a house, prefer to live among their peers, and who have enough money to pay the Continuing Care Retirement Community fees are all welcome.
Assisted Living Facilities
These housing options combine a level of independent living with some assistance for personal care. They provide care to residents who cannot live alone, but do not need 24-hour nursing care. Assisted living communities offer residents the privacy of their own bedroom, often with a small kitchen. Most offer meals in a community dining room, snacks, laundry services, housekeeping and assistance with personal needs such as bathing, dressing or medication supervision. These facilities are not designed for people who need serious medical care, but there are some facilities for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss.
Assisted Living residents can be young or old, affluent or low income, frail or disabled. A typical resident in an Assisted Living Facility is a widowed or single woman in her eighties. Residents may suffer from memory disorders, or simply need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges. Assisted Living is appropriate for anyone who can no longer live on their own, but doesn’t require extensive medical care.
Once a decision about a community has been made, review everything and ask questions if you do not understand. Ensure everything is spelled out and clear. If you don’t feel good about the place, it’s probably not the best option. Pay close attention to what is going on, and how you feel!
Residential Care Homes (Personal Care Homes)
These group living facilities, usually single-family homes, are designed to meet the needs of people who cannot live independently, but do not need nursing homes. These homes provide some type of assistance with daily living activities including eating, walking, and bathing. Some homes provide skilled nursing, rehabilitative services or specialized care for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
Skilled Nursing Facilities
A Skilled Nursing Facility is staffed by registered nurses who help provide 24-hour care to people who can no longer care for themselves due to physical, emotional or mental conditions. A licensed physician supervises each patient’s care and a nurse or other medical professional is almost always on the premises. Most nursing homes have two basic types of services: skilled medical care and custodial care.
People who are able to recover from a disabling injury or illness, may temporarily need the custodial care as they are getting back the strength and balance to be independent again. For people who are losing their ability to function independently due to chronic disease and increasing frailty, custodial care may be a long-term need.
In the most severe cases where a person is bed-bound, ongoing supervision by an RN is necessary, along with the custodial care, to ensure proper hydration, nutrition, and to prevent skin breakdown. If a custodial care resident becomes ill or injured, they may spend a period of time in skilled care, and then return to custodial care. Whether a resident is under skilled or custodial care is important in terms of who provides the care and who pays for the services provided.
Memory Care Communities
Alzheimer’s care communities are special units, or free-standing communities, designed to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that attacks the brain, impairing one’s memory, mental processing ability, and behavior.
Special on-site care is provided to residents 24-hours a day. While these communities are for early-stage Alzheimer’s patients, alternative senior assisted care centers may be appropriate for some residents. Long-term insurance or personal finances usually fund the care in these communities.