Understanding Senior Housing Choices

Oct 10, 2015

The range of available housing and care services is wide, ranging from in-home caregivers to live-in facilities that can provide skilled nursing. Planning ahead for senior housing is not easy. The best anyone can do is to first become informed. Then, communicate early and often about the eventual life transitions.

Next, organize the legal paperwork and start planning financially for long-term care. When the need arises make an educated and possibly even a professionally-supported decision about the best possible living situation. This includes evaluations of certain aspects of an individual’s current daily living needs and to consider their needs on a long-term basis.

The choices of housing for seniors include:

Active Adult 55/62+ Communities

Active adult communities aim to service the interests of active adults over the age of 55. Housing types often include condos, townhouses, and single-family homes, and all are planned with an eye to offering a maintenance-free lifestyle for residents. Designed for independent and active adults who have few or no health care needs but who choose to downsize from their current homes. These communities offer a wide variety of activities including exercise, social clubs, and lecture series.

Assisted Living Communities

Residents live in their own apartments, but have the benefit of an on-site staff, meal service in common dining rooms, and planned activities and outings. Some facilities also offer access to nurses and assistance with activities of daily living. Facilities can range in size from small six bed homes to large 80 to 150 apartment communities. These facilities are regulated by the state.

Alzheimer’s/Memory Facilities

Certain assisted living facilities have either a section of apartments to care for residents with dementia or are exclusively only dementia care facilities. Along with more help with activities of daily living, these facilities incorporate many features and services to provide comfort to and the easing of resident’s anxiety. These facilities are regulated by state and federal law.

The more information that is gathered prior to the move, the easier it will be to find the right environment and have a smooth transition into a new lifestyle

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs are facilities that offer progressive levels of assistance from independent, to assisted living, to memory care, and skilled nursing care - a full continuum of housing and services within the same community. The concept is that the resident does not have to move out because they need more assistance or need nursing care.

Preparing for a Move to a Different Residence

A move to an assisted living facility can be daunting and confusing for both seniors and their families. After a lifetime of independent living, a move of this magnitude alters what is familiar and comfortable. Adjusting to new surroundings, new routines, new people, and uncertainties about the future all take time.

However, information is power. The more information that is gathered prior to the move, the easier it will be to find the right environment and have a smooth transition into a new lifestyle. Once the senior and/or their family have decided that an assisted living environment is required, asking friends, colleagues, or senior care professionals for referrals is a good start to locating quality facilities.

Take a tour of each facility and come prepared with questions. It’s best to make an appointment for the tour so that you meet the people best suited to answer your questions. Talk to several of the residents as well. If you drop in, you could have a tour with someone who may not be best able to answer your questions. Asking the same questions and making consistent observations from one facility to the next will provide a method of comparison that will present the best feedback.

Bruce Ballatine

Bruce Ballatine, SRES, CSA is a Realtor Associate with Evergreen Realty. CalBRE #001783833. He can be reached at (949) 632-2923 or bruce.evergreen@cox.net

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