Senior Living Options in Today’s Environment
As the doors slowly begin to open up in senior living communities across the country, senior prospects that put their plans on hold earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now beginning to tour again. However, they may have new fears added to the already often challenging decision of downsizing into this maintenance-free style of living.
In a recent Rochester Business Journal article, St. John’s Vice President of Senior Housing Paul Bartlett offered reassurance to any senior considering a move into a St. John’s independent living community at this time. “We have a great track record,” says Paul, noting the extensive safety measures in place to keep our residents safe while avoiding social isolation.
If you are just beginning your decision-making journey to explore maintenance-free living and do not know where to begin, it may be helpful to start with common definitions of the types of senior living options that are available.
Senior Living Options
55+ Adult Communities
These communities offer residential living, in single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, or multi-family properties, either for sale or for rent. Hospitality services and outdoor maintenance might be included in the resident’s monthly fee and amenities such as a pool, clubhouse, or recreational spaces could be offered.
Assistance with activities of daily living is normally not provided. Residents, however, usally have a choice of whether or not to take advantage of available services or programs, such as housekeeping, interior and exterior maintenance, transportation, and social activities.
A special combination of housing, personalized supportive services, and care designed to meet the needs — both scheduled and unscheduled — are for those who require help with daily activities. Some assisted living communities are freestanding, others like St. John’s Enhanced Assisted Living Services, are part of a continuum of care. Within a senior community setting, services may include any or all of these:
-Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and walking
-Access to health and medical services
-24/7 security and staff availability
-Emergency call system for each resident’s home
-Health promotion and exercise programs
-Palliative care for serious or life-threatening illness
-Personal laundry services
-Social and recreational activities
-Three meals a day served in a common dining area
Adults are directly admitted to the community and pay a monthly rental rate. Fees for medication and other care-related services are based on need level.
Home Health Care
Medical and nursing services can be delivered in a person’s home by a licensed provider. Medicare might cover some services provided by home health care if the individual meets certain guidelines regarding a recent hospital stay.
These residential living settings are for seniors who require minimal or no assistance. Hospitality and supportive services are generally provided. Independent living residences, such as those provided at St. John’s Meadows or Brickstone by St. John’s, may be apartments or freestanding homes obtained either for an entrance fee or through a rental arrangement. A monthly fee for services and amenities may be applied if services are not bundled. Access to higher levels of care varies, however it is offered in the St. John’s contiunuum.
Some senior living communities, along with stand-alone memory support communities, specialize in services dedicated to caring for residents needing memory care for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia or cognitive impairments. Most memory care programs are supported in specially designed environments and include innovative technologies and interventions that can decrease the anxieties and difficulties related to dealing with dementia. Staff typically have a high level of expertise in memory care. St. John’s offers memory care services at St. John’s Home.
Nursing Home/Skilled Care
Licensed daily rate communities that are referred to as skilled nursing facilities (SNF) or nursing facilities (NF), are for individuals who require 24/7 nursing and/or health care. In most cases, nursing homes are licensed for Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement. They generally offer a community setting, private or shared rooms, and around-the-clock medical staff, including RNs (registered nurses), LPNs (licensed practical nurses) and CNAs (certified nursing assistants). Some nursing homes are freestanding communities; however, St. John’s Home is part of a continuum of services .
Services that provide caregivers with temporary relief from tasks associated with caregiving (e.g., in-home assistance, short nursing home stays, adult day care) are offered in some settings. In a senior living community setting, it usually refers to an arrangement whereby a senior stays at the community for a few days or weeks, perhaps to give their caregiver at home a break or to experience the community’s accommodations, services and amenities on a trial basis.
The Senior Living Decision
Now that you have a good understanding of the different types of living options available to seniors, how do you begin determining the level right for you? An exploration of your lifestyle goals and your current state of health and wellness can lead you to an understanding of the level of support you might need or desire.
How are you currently spending your time? What would you like to be doing if you had more opportunities? Below are a couple checklists to help you consider some options.
___Attend cultural events
___Go to a fitness center
___Spend time with friends
___Learn something new
___Swim, bike, golf or hike
___Creative arts expression: paint, writing, ceramics, jewelry-making, etc.
___Play music or sing
___Study group or book club
___Other; if so what?
___Snow and/or leaf removal
___Other; if so what?
Health and Wellness
It’s important to pay attention to the health and wellness programs that are an integral part of senior living communities because wellness impacts your overall well-being.
Just as you need to get your blood pressure and heart rate checked periodically, it’s important to check your level of wellness. Ask yourself these suggested questions below that will help you identify areas on which to focus.
Am I satisfied with how my life is turning out? How well do I manage my stress levels? Am I happy and content most days?
How often do I try to learn new things? What do I do to stay mentally stimulated? Do I regularly attend cultural or educational events?
How often do I meditate, reflect, or pray? Do I have a well-defined sense of purpose and meaning? Do I feel in harmony with the world around me?
Do I eat healthful, nutritious food? What kinds of physical activities do I participate in? How often? Am I as healthy as other people my age?
Do I share my knowledge or experience with others? How often do I volunteer or go to work?Am I bored or do I use my time wisely?
How often do I socialize with a consistent group of friends? Are my family relationships a source of satisfaction for me? Do I invite friends or family to my house at least once a month?
Good luck in your search!