Confronting Tough Choices

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Facing changes in living needs, whether as seniors or as a loved one concerned for a parent, grandparent or other relative, is something no one wants to accept. Confronting the situation, however, offers more choices for finding the right solution and a happier outcome for all.

Where Does It Begin?

Congregated housing, continued care retirement centers, naturally occurring retirement communities, skilled care facilities and nursing homes are descriptions in the senior housing lexicon. To simplify the search, most arrangements fall within three tiers of retirement facilities.

Independent or alternative living provides 24-hour security in an apartment or house-like surrounding. Seniors manage their own lives and finances but have options for health care and housekeeping assistance, covered parking and recreational services. The occupant selects the degree of involvement from the staff or their independence.

Assisted living is a state-regulated facility designed for seniors requiring help with one or more daily needs living in an apartment or private room. Support staff depends on the assistance required. Specialized facilities for Alzheimer’s or memory care challenges exist.

Skilled nursing care facilities require a state license and offer 24-hour nursing care, both long- and short-term. Accommodations may be private or shared. Check the amenities offered, including transportation, physical therapy or registered dietitians in a consultant capacity, to fulfill particular needs. Ask about services provided and which are provided out-of-pocket.

Each setting has advantages and disadvantages. Independent living provides the obvious pros with endless recreation opportunities, ease of living, house and yard care and expert onsite services. The downside may include expenses not met by Medicare, maintaining quality staff and the resident’s adaptability to a new living environment.

Peace of mind for seniors and their families is a point in favor of assisted living. Eliminating the stress of living with chronic diseases, dependency on transportation, medication routines, dai