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Housing Options for Seniors When “Home Sweet Home” isn’t So Sweet


There’s no question aging in place in the comfort of home is the best of all of the housing options for seniors—as long as it works.  It’s easy to stand by that plan when things are going smoothly, a person doesn’t have serious health issues or you ‘promised’ your loved one you would never put them in a nursing home.  But then life happens.  Mom falls and breaks a hip and needs continuous care.  Dad was diagnosed with dementia and isn’t safe at home.  Or your long distance relative is a wandering risk and there’s no family nearby to keep an eye on him.  So despite your genuine commitment to keep that promise, you have to make the tough choice that your loved just can’t live at home any longer.  The emotions in doing so can range from fear, guilt, regret, anger and frustration.  When the time comes to move your loved one into a safer environment, it shouldn’t be viewed as a negative decision, because it’s really about doing what’s best.

The best approach would be to put them in the least restrictive setting possible.  First, exhuast all other options in a  person’s home first (like home healthcare).  Then when it’s truly no longer an option to keep them home, remember there are options in between moving from house to nursing home.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other.  So here’s what your options are when home sweet home isn’t so sweet anymore :

Assisted Living Facilities.

Assisted living facilities still offer a level of independence, just not the same as if a person was truly in their own home or apartment.  An assisted living facility provides different levels of care depending on what your loved one needs.  The levels of care can be increased as the person’s needs change.  Keep in mind, so does the cost.  Each added service may cost more, depending on the assisted living facilities pricing structure.  So it’s important to understand what services are included (or excluded) in the monthly rate.  Assisted living facilities are primarily private pay, so when your loved one runs out of money they’ll have to look at other housing options.

Nursing Facilities

Nursing homes provide the highest levels of care.  They will manage a person’s care continuously.  Nursing homes are expensive, but once a person runs out of money Medicaid pays for the person’s care so they’ll never be forced to move somewhere else.  Nursing homes also provide memory care for people with dementia.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

CCRCs provide continuous care within the same housing community.  A person essentially gets to remain under the same ‘parent company’ providing services.  So as people’s needs change they’ll maintain the consistency of being under the same housing umbrella, but will move into different settings to meet their needs.  CCRCs provide independent living options, assisted living, nursing care and memory care.  This provides consistency of care that you don’t have to ‘start over’ with new housing.

The options in each different category vary quite a bit from facility to facility.  Figuring out what to do requires lots of homework to find the best option available.   Gerontology Network can help families work through the process or refer you to housing specialists, and there’s no cost for these services.   The decision is never easy whether it’s from an emotional logistical or financial standpoint but with anything there are people to help.