WHEN IT COMES TIME TO find the right assisted living community or nursing home for your loved one, there are a lot of things to consider in finding the right fit, such as the quality of the medical care, fees and location. But in the scramble to find a good place for your loved one, it’s also important to consider the quality of life they’ll find in that community and whether they’ll be supported in living their best life possible.
Finding and engaging in appropriate activities for seniors – and these can run the gamut from hobbies and physical exercise to social events and outings – is a major component of a high quality of life for older adults in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. That’s because socialization and eliminating loneliness and isolation among older adults is a crucial component of staying healthy in our later years. “It’s a critical part of well-being to be able to interact with others and to have those social connections,” says Dr. Tanya Gure, section chief of geriatrics and associate clinical professor in internal medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
FOR MANY OLDER ADULTS, the first and best option for living out their golden years is to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. But for some, there comes a time when this strategy becomes unmanageable and it’s time to transition into an assisted living community. Moving is always difficult and it can be made especially more so by all the complex emotions and logistical challenges that often accompany a move made later in life. But there are some ways to make transitioning into an assisted living facility a little easier.
Dr. Susann Varano, a geriatrician at Maplewood Senior Living, a Westport, Connecticut–based senior living residence company, says one of the key components to making a smooth transition to an assisted living community is to start searching for the right place as early as possible. Ideally, you should be planning for and considering your options for months, even years, before you actually need to make the move. She likens the ideal transition to how we plan for college.
“Some people start a college fund when the child is born, and they start thinking about college when they’re in middle school – they consider which high school to go to that will lead to a good college and ultimately lead to a good law school or medical school.” She asks why Americans seem so reluctant to give the same sort of care and attention to what probably should be viewed as an equally important life transition. “These are the final years of your life. Why shouldn’t they be the quality you deserve? You worked hard for your money, and this is your money. Give it the respect that it deserves and don’t be so afraid that just because you’re looking (at moving) means you’re going to go.”
Voters in Maine were presented with a ballot measure that would have provided disabled adults or people over the age of 65 with full-time, long-term care in their own homes, at no cost to individuals or their families. It was hailed by supporters as a visionary model for ensuring support for vulnerable people, one that could be rolled out in other states as the US elder population grows.
Alas, it’s a vision whose time has not yet come. Voters in Maine soundly defeated Question 1 at the polls on Tuesday (Nov. 6).
Maine is one of the fastest-aging states in the US. People aged 65 and older there are expected to outnumber those under 18 by 2020, a full 15 years before the US as a whole reaches that crucial threshold.
The vast majority of seniors prefer to age in their own homes. The availability and affordability of in-home care in Maine, however, is among the poorest in the nation. Without access to home care, family members typically shoulder the work—along with the financial cost of their own lost wages—to care for elderly relatives.
BALTIMORE — Jill Pelovitz depends on an army of in-home nurses to keep her teenage daughter alive.
Fourteen-year-old Nadiya suffers from a rare genetic disorder that causes life-threatening seizures, breathing problems and other complications. The teenager, who needs help with basic life skills such as dressing and walking, requires constant monitoring in case she has a seizure, especially at night when she is sleeping in their Severn, Md., home.
But finding nurses to assist families who have children with disabilities and other relatives at home can be difficult, largely because such nurses aren’t paid enough in Maryland or even as much as in neighboring states, according to the families and companies that place nurses. They are pushing to increase how much the nurses are reimbursed under Maryland’s Medicaid program, which covers most of the costs of at-home nursing care for those with disabilities.
Exercising at least three times a week for six months reduced stress in a group of family caregivers and even appeared to lengthen a small section of their chromosomes that is believed to slow cellular aging, new UBC research has found.
“I am hoping that a new focus on the family caregiver will emerge out of this research,” said Eli Puterman, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s school of kinesiology and lead author of the study. “We need to design interventions that help caregivers take care of their bodies and their minds, and provide the type of support that’s needed to maintain that long-term.”
The population of seniors in the U.S., where Puterman and colleagues from the University of California conducted the study, is expected to nearly double by 2050. Younger family members will increasingly be providing this type of care and it can take a toll on their health.
AMERICA HAS AN AGING population, and as such, more and more people are considering options for where and how they’ll live after retirement. Sorting through those choices and determining which is the best one for your particular situation can be challenging.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities are one option you may consider. Sometimes called life plan communities, CCRCs offer most anything older adults may need as they move through the stages of aging, says Andrew J. Carle, an adjunct professor in the department of health administration and policy and founding director of the program in senior housing administration at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. “The gist of it is they include the full continuum of care options,” meaning everything from independent or assisted living to memory care and skilled nursing care.
Not just focused on health care and assistance in daily living, CCRCs address the range of needs seniors will face after retirement and typically offer housekeeping and dining options, transportation, wellness and fitness programs, recreational activities and a wide range of social activities and outings for residents.
IF YOU WERE BORN between 1946 and 1964, you count yourself, of course, as part of the baby boomer generation that is the largest in American history. And boomers age just like everyone else. In March 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that by 2035, adults aged 65 and older will number more than 78 million. By comparison, kids aged 18 and younger are expected to total just 76.4 million, meaning that in short order, the number of seniors in the country will outnumber children for the first time in American history.
As they continue to age, many people need some help in completing the daily tasks of living. Faced with the decision of how to address these needs, thousands are settling on the option of an assisted living facility.
Definitions of assisted living can vary from state to state and facility to facility, but “we generally define it as another long-term care option for folks that generally don’t need 24/7 skilled nursing care, which is what most long-term nursing homes provide,” says Rachel Reeves, director of communications for the National Center for Assisted Living, a non-profit organization representing about 4,000 assisted living facilities across the country. For many people, assisted living means they need help with some aspects of daily living, such bathing, dressing, toileting, eating or transferring to bed at night. “Assisted living really focuses on supporting individuals with those activities, but then also maximizing independence and socialization in a home-like environment,” Reeves says. Currently, the NCAL reports that there are more than 835,000 Americans residing in assisted living facilities.
Providing insight into the changing post-retirement landscape, a new survey by Home Instead, Inc. revealed that more than half (53 percent) of workers approaching retirement in the next five years believe they will likely return to work.
According to the Home Instead, Inc. survey, money is an important overall factor in desire to return to work. However, the second most important motivator for those who have retired was fighting boredom (44 percent) or keeping their minds sharp (22 percent), while finding new challenges and fulfillment were the second and third most important motivators for those pending retirement. In terms of their next move, the majority of both those approaching retirement (68 percent) and those who have “unretired” and returned to work (65 percent) said they will change or have changed industries.
“Today, more aging men and women are redefining what their next chapter looks like, seeking out new career opportunities that serve their skills, passions and life goals,” said Jeff Huber, president and CEO of Home Instead, Inc. “We are seeing the desire among seniors for a second career to not just fulfill a monetary need, but source of personal fulfillment later in life. In fact, many of our own professional caregivers are seniors themselves.”
Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance did considerable research in 2016 before deciding to move into a continuing care retirement community outside St. Louis.
They took a tour of Friendship Village Sunset Hills and were impressed by its pool and fitness center, a calendar crammed with activities, the newly built apartments for independent living. They had meals with a friend and with a former co-worker, and their spouses, all of them enthusiastic residents.
“We’d met other people from the community, and they were very friendly,” said Ms. Walsh, 72, a retired manager for AT&T. “I was feeling good about it.”
Like most C.C.R.C.s, Friendship Village — a “faith-based” but nondenominational nonprofit — includes assisted living and a nursing home on its 52-acre campus, an important consideration.
As much as 10 percent of Oklahoma’s adults age 60 and older are victims of physical, psychological, sexual or verbal abuse.
Also, senior citizens are seriously neglected or victims of financial exploitation, according to a new report co-authored by Lance Robertson, assistant secretary for aging in the Trump administration. Robertson served as Oklahoma’s director of aging services from 2007 to 2017.
Now, elder-abuse costs in the United States are estimated to be $8.2 billion a year, according to Robertson and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams.
“Elder abuse is a critical social, health and economic problem,” the report notes.