Many Americans reach a point in life where the upkeep of a home becomes more of a hassle than a necessity. The large house in which they raised their family starts to seem cavernous and high-maintenance, and downsizing begins to be an attractive option. For some this means a condo in Florida or an apartment closer to family. But for those who want some assistance with daily routines and housekeeping, or those who need skilled nursing care, a look at the options for elderly housing is in order.
Skilled nursing is available in the home for things like post-operative care, wound care, drug therapy and cardiovascular disease management. Health aides can provide assistance with basic needs like dressing, eating, bathing, and toileting. Homemakers are available for grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry. Depending on a senior's needs, physical, occupational, and speech therapists are also available.
Elderly housing in this category includes what are known as NORC's - Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities. 27% of American seniors live in these communities, typified by the popular condominium complexes in the South and Southwest. Alternatively there are age-restricted retirement communities, which mandate that residents be over 55 or over 62. Restricted or not, these complexes often see seniors band together and develop access to services that aid those needing assistance, and help residents maintain a high quality of life as they age. Retirement Communities are oriented toward an active lifestyle and busy, energetic seniors. They might offer golf, tennis, a swimming pool and spa, exercise rooms and a variety of clubs and interest groups.
This elderly housing option provides the same independence and similar amenities, but offers more structured and robust solutions to those who need everyday assistance. Assisted living facilities can be as large as an apartment complex with 400 residents, or as small as a house shared by six or eight.
Regardless of size, an assisted living facility must fulfill some standard requirements: at least two daily meals for its residents, a daily resident check-in system, weekly housekeeping services and daily assistance with activities like dressing and bathing. It must also offer health services related to the administration of medication.
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These facilities focus on personal privacy and self-sufficiency. Seniors will have their own room or apartment, and complete discretion around how they spend their days. They will have access to a kitchen (communal in a house, private in an apartment) and if seniors would rather not cook, the facility will offer menu choices for each meal.
Elderly housing in this category will often offer amenities like a fitness center or pool, but additionally provide options like onsite physical therapists, scheduled outings, spa treatments and in-house hair salons. Many facilities allow residents to have cars if they are able to drive, or provide transportation for those who don't. These services are usually a la carte, and you will generally pay for things like personal trainers, parking spaces, spa treatments and haircuts.
If a temporary setback like major illness or surgery mandates significant medical care and 24-hour nursing supervision, the expertise and staffing levels of a nursing home may be required. A different elderly housing situation may be more appropriate down the line, but as a bridge between hospital care and a return to independent living, nursing homes can provide intensive rehabilitation services that other elderly housing cannot. These facilities can also be the best option when medical and nursing care will be required long term and another elderly housing environment is no longer appropriate.