This article, written by a fellow blogger, is beautifully descriptive and paints a clear picture – not just of the visual scene – but also of the emotions that exist in those who step into the world of their loved one with Alzheimer’s and other dementia.
The two poignant themes that resonate with me are: the development of resident boyfriend/girlfriend relationships within a memory care community; and the wonderful interaction between a great-grandson and his great-grandpa with cognitive difficulties.
Even if you think you will never move into a Senior housing facility you should at least do some research so that in an emergent situation, you’ll be well-enough informed to start moving forward with a plan. This is not the time to be making snap decisions. Your well-being, or that of a loved one, deserves more attention than that. Making an advanced decision, and thinking ahead regarding future living circumstances, will afford you the opportunity to make a decision that you want, not what others have decided for you. What follows may be too basic for those who are already familiar with Senior housing options, but for many, this blog entry will serve as a first step primer towards getting ones’ feet wet.
INDEPENDENT LIVING – sometimes called After 55 Housing.
These complexes are designed for adults who want an independent lifestyle in which they can relinquish yardwork and house maintenance tasks to someone else. Now you’re talking! If the independent complex has a common dining room they will either provide meals in a restaurant setting (ordering off the menu) and/or buffet-style selections. Depending upon the particular independent community you’re considering, other amenities such as housekeeping, transportation and on and off-site activities may also be available to its residents. It’s important to know that although these communities may offer wellness programs in which you can become involved, e.g. exercise or nutrition classes, there are typically no care options offered unless the community is licensed as a residential care facility for the elderly.
This category of facility promotes independence while also offering personal assistance for specific care needs such as bathing & toileting, dressing, walking assistance, and/or medication assistance. These needs are called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). Assisted living communities may be a stand-alone building or an extension of an independent residential community. If an assisted living facility is also licensed to provide dementia/memory care, a resident could readily move from general assisted living care to dementia care in the same facility.
GROUP HOME/ADULT FAMILY HOME (AFH)
An Adult Family Home is typically a single family home with a State-imposed maximum allowable number of residents – in Washington State, this number is six. These residences offer assistance with ADLs. This is a desirable option for those looking for a residential situation that is more home-like than facility-like. Many adult family homes also provide specialized care for those with dementia.
These facilities provide all the expected assisted living services plus specialized services that meet the needs of the memory impaired adult and is usually always a secured unit to protect a resident who might be a wandering risk. By secured, I mean that in order to exit to a public hallway or common area, such as a lobby, a person would need to punch a code into a keypad that one with dementia would most likely not be able to navigate. A secure dementia care unit can exist as a stand-alone building or can be found within an assisted living complex, a nursing home complex, or a continuing care retirement community.
This facility provides 24-hour medical care on a short-term or long-term basis. Additionally, rehabilitation programs are offered. If someone living in an assisted living community has orthopedic surgery, he would probably undergo a certain amount of rehabilitation at a nursing home and then return to his previous residential situation. A nursing home can sometimes become a permanent care option for those requiring a higher level of care. Since assisted living and dementia care facilities have certain limits on the level of care they can provide, a nursing home may be necessary in order to receive the advanced care needed by a resident.
CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY (CCRC)
A CCRC has all levels of Senior living – therefore it’s usually quite expensive: independent, assisted, dementia care and nursing home care. The benefit of a Continuing Care Retirement Community is that you can age in place regardless of your growing medical or cognitive needs. This type of community exists on a larger campus that truly does provide an entire spectrum of care. You can move into a CCRC totally independent – without any care needs whatsoever – and gradually move through the campus property without leaving your friends and without greatly changing your surroundings, thus assuring a continuum of experience for many years to come.
Housing for Seniorsis addressed in the attached Federal Seniors Resource website that provides an extensive list of pertinent resources. I hope you’ll find it helpful – not just for senior housing information but for many topics about which you may have an interest.
What challenges have you faced – or what concerns do you have about either your future or the future of a loved one who might need Senior housing? Let’s talk about it – let us hope that what each of us contributes benefits those tuning into this blog.