For seniors and caregivers, deciding on the best type of home care is nothing new. This is a decision every generation faces, but what is different today is the changing landscape of options for senior home care. Some people choose to age at home or buy a home that’s more senior-friendly. Others choose assisted living, while others are going for completely innovative solutions. There isn’t always a clear answer, but there are a few key factors that can help you make the choice that feels best for your situation.
When Is Assisted Living the Best Choice?
Whether you’re a senior or a caregiver who is concerned about your loved one, the most important thing to remember is that there are some situations that are out of your control. Injuries, serious illness, and dementia are some of the situations older adults face that prevent them from being able to stay safe and independent at home.
Seniors and loved ones also need to be aware of slower changes that indicate assisted living is the right choice. Sometimes, memory loss and health concerns worsen slowly over time. If you’re a caregiver, you should also be aware of burnout, which takes a negative toll not only on yourself, but also affects your senior loved one.
Even when you don’t have these concerns, remember that assisted living doesn’t have to be a last-ditch solution. Some seniors prefer to age in place or in a shared community, but for others, assisted living is the best first choice. And remember, assisted living still provides a level of independence while offering extra care a senior may require. If you’re considering assisted living, make a point to tour numerous facilities to get a feel for the atmosphere, staff and social options. In some cases, it may help to connect with a senior living advisor to help you determine which facility would be the best fit.
What It Takes to Age in Place
If you or your loved one is considering aging in place as an option, you need to know which home features and extra services may be necessary.
- Accessibility: When you think about accessibility, it’s important to consider your current needs but also potential issues you could face later on. Start by going through your home, room by room, inside and out, and checking off all possible accessibility concerns. Some of these include wide doorways and hallways, lots of lighting, kitchen and bathroom safety, and entryways. If your current home doesn’t meet these requirements, the next question is whether it’s affordable and feasible to make modifications or whether you should buy a more accessible home. Prices on accessible homes vary, and that price could jump if you decide to invest in an as-is home, which may require you to make significant changes.
- Simple Swaps: Along with the bigger accessibility features, there are also small changes that can make your home safer and make everyday life easier. These can be low-tech, like grabbing tools, or high-tech gadgets, like an electronic device that helps prevent falls and robot vacuums to make cleanup easier.
- Support: Even in a highly-accessible home, you will probably still need extra support at some point. US News explains how this can be the support of friends or family members who live nearby, community resources like meal delivery, or professionals like home health aides. Just like you do with a home safety checklist, be sure to consider all types of support you may need and what options are available in your community.
Today’s innovative solutions for senior housing combine the desire to age in place with the need many people have for community and extra help. According to AARP, some of the most popular creative housing options include co-housing, house sharing, and housing cooperatives. With co-housing, a family and their senior loved one each maintains their own living quarters while sharing a common space. House sharing and cooperatives are similar solutions that are designed for seniors to have the support of neighbors within their community.
Another thing to consider is that many assisted living centers have evolved to meet the demand for alternative solutions. For example, some assisted living centers are more community-oriented and designed to truly feel like home. They recognize that seniors often need assistance but want to feel like they’re living in a real home rather than an institution.
Just like you, every senior living option is unique. The right fit for you has to meet your individual and family needs, so take your time in finding the right solution.
Harry Cline is the creator of New Caregiver