With aging comes options

Senior housing options available from in-home to full-fledged skilled nursing care

By Amylynn Pastorella

Imagine these two situations that commonly confront the elderly:

— Scenario 1: A 73-year old man who has been living in his home for 40 years can no longer use the stairs without assistance. He is having difficulty helping himself in the bathroom and cooking his meals.

He has taken some unfortunate falls and his family is worried because they feel he cannot live alone anymore. What does he do?

— Scenario 2: An older couple is living on their own. They come and go as they please, but they have so much space that they are pressured to downsize. They don’t want to leave their roots.

Stubbornly, they reject any thoughts of moving, which creates animosity and tension in their family. What do they do?

The obvious solution to scenario 1 is to look at skilled nursing or nursing homes. The solution to scenario 2 could be independent living facilities. Both options come with amenities and can be personalized.

Change is a piece of cake, no one ever said.

Although many seniors are living longer, leaving the life they know is extremely difficult. The realization they may have to leave their home can be stressful and causes resentment among their families, or those making that decision for them.

As daunting as that decision is, new trends indicate that senior living has improved.

“Many seniors fear the nursing home, sitting in a hallway with nothing to do,” said Kathy Contino-Turner, director of communications and marketing at Masonic Care Community in Utica.

This is not the case anymore. In the skilled nursing units of Masonic Care Community, living areas are divided into neighborhoods and households and people become like family.

“Households are made up of eight or 16 residents, all who eat together in the household dining room with food served from the household kitchen,” she said. “We have a number of common areas with gas fireplaces. We have a pond and fountain with fish and turtles for all to enjoy, as well as an atrium with all kinds of activities from bowling to card playing and entertainment.”

Whole new approach

Nursing homes such as Ocean Hills Senior Living usually house residents who can no longer live independently due to a health crisis. However, skilled nursing facilities no longer look like asylums with white walls, a bed, a bathroom and a television.

Some skilled nursing centers and communities, like the Summerfield of Redlands – memory care, have adopted a household model because it feels more like home. Check out sites like carltonseniorliving.com/community/elk-grove/ to get an idea of their amenities.

They are made to feel like home because employees and management of these facilities know the residents are there long-term and want them to feel as if they were in their own homes.

For seniors who relate to scenario 2, the Mohawk Valley offers many independent living facilities for seniors who want to downsize their lifestyle or need a little assistance due to an injury.

At Masonic Care Community, residences like Acacia Village and Wiley Hall fit that bill.

“Certainly people moving into Acacia Village are healthy and active, drive their own cars and live in apartments with all the amenities of home,” said Contino-Turner. “They don’t have to worry about shoveling or going out in the cold. They are not isolated. They have others around them. They have kitchens or they can eat in a dining room.”

In Wiley Hall, residents have a room and full bathroom, but no kitchen. They have their meals in a central dining area. Residents enjoy the companionship of others, go on trips, and enjoy special programs and activities. Many married couples make up the population there.

Home care is an option for people who do not want to live anywhere else since professional health care providers, including nurses, physical therapists, nursing assistants, and occupational therapists provide in-home care. You can check out sites like https://www.fountainsquareoflompoc.com/assisted-living/your-home/ to see how assisted living and home health care services can help older adults.

Explore various options and make phone calls to find out what fits a senior’s needs (check out sites like residencesatplainview.com/community/your-retirement-community/ for additional guidance).

“I always suggest they call directly and talk to an admissions counselor about placement,” said Contino-Turner.

Don’t wait until there is a crisis. Make decisions when seniors are healthy and can review their options (click here to find some).

Keeping in mind the old saying, “Home is where the heart is,” seniors should have the right to choose the environment that makes them happy. You can try it out here.