Grown children cannot always provide the increasing care that their elderly parents may require. And care is not the only consideration: elderly people need social and activity opportunities.
Fortunately, options exist for varying levels of housing and assistance. Helpguide.org explores the following choices available to seniors.
Aging In Place
Elderly people who are relatively mobile may prefer to stay home as long as possible. Familiar surroundings, neighbors, and community make this a comfortable option under the following circumstances:
- There is a network of nearby family, friends, and neighbors.
- Safe alternatives to driving are accessible.
- The neighborhood is safe.
- The home can be modified to meet the senior’s changing physical needs.
- The home and yard can be easily maintained.
- The person does not require high-level physical or medical care.
- The senior is outgoing enough to maintain social contacts.
- The home is in an integrated community, such as a “village” or a “naturally occurring retirement community” (NORC).
Once a person’s mobility becomes limited, aging in place becomes less palatable. Seniors who cannot get around easily may become isolated, leading to loneliness and depression. Before this happens, it’s time to find another abode.
Villages and Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs)
Aging in place is possible without depending on family and friends if the senior belongs to a village or a NORC. For a membership fee of sometimes more than $500 per year, a senior gains access to special programs and services, such as home health care, transportation to stores, or home and yard maintenance. Members also build a social network of other seniors.
Naturally occurring retirement communities, or NORCs, are similar to villages but are found in lower-income neighborhoods. Seniors stay in their own homes, with access to local services, volunteer programs, and social activities.
Independent living—a.k.a. retirement communities, retirement homes, senior housing, and senior apartments—refers to a housing arrangement designed for seniors only. The domicile is generally compact and easy to navigate, and help is available for outdoor work. A recreation center may be on site.
Seniors may choose independent living if they
- need some assistance with daily activities;
- want a home that won’t require a lot of maintenance; and
- want to socialize with peers and have access to nearby activities.
If seniors do not want to live among only people their own age, perhaps they could live with a relative or friend. They could also move into a more convenient, accessible apartment or condominium.
Staff are available in an assisted-living facility 24 hours a day to help residents. Assisted living is an option if the senior
- needs more help with personal care than is available in a retirement community; and
- does not need the constant medical care and supervision of a nursing home.
In addition to helping with daily living activities, nursing homes provide high-level medical care. Each resident’s care is supervised by a physician, and a medical professional is generally on site. A nursing home may be the right choice if the senior
- needs more care with personal and medical care than he or she can receive in another type of facility; or
- needs temporary high-level medical care, such as after a hospitalization.
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