Making Personalized Decisions Based on Individual Circumstances
As our population ages, seniors today are blessed with many housing options from which to choose. Previously, seniors had only a handful of choices for where to live: at home, with family or at an assisted living facility or nursing home. Many of today’s seniors are members of the baby boomer generation, and the boomers have notoriously disrupted every phase of life as they have entered it, insisting that they leave their mark and forcing long-standing institutions to bend to their will. Senior housing is just another stop on the boomer generation’s outside-the-box thinking.
NOT YOUR PARENTS’ SENIOR HOUSING OPTIONS
Part of what is driving these changes is the fact that today’s seniors have seen their parents cast aside by society and wither away in nursing homes, and they don’t want that to be their fate. Most folks want to remain independent for as long as possible. As a result, a very popular type of senior housing which has emerged in recent years is called aging in place. That means that a senior’s home is modified, as needed, to accommodate the resident so that he or she can remain in his or her home as long as possible. For some folks, it means widening doorways to allow a wheelchair to pass through, reinforcing walls to support graspable hand bars in bathrooms and hallways, along with renovating kitchens and bathrooms to include adjustable-height countertops. It often will also include adding zero entry doorways or wheelchair ramps to allow access into the home without steps. An aging in place expert can help determine which changes would be beneficial to help improve safety and functionality.
For some individuals, it means moving to a retirement community where they can add home care or other assistive services as their needs change. Retirement communities are popular and growing very quickly as the population ages. These communities are great for helping seniors get to know their neighbors and reduce isolation. Forced social interaction can sow the seeds of friendship and add happiness and contentment through activities organized by the staff at the retirement community. This type of environment is ideal for people who need a nudge to meet others or those who appreciate a higher degree of socializing.
Another popular trend in recent years is the advent of “granny pods” which are small pre-fabricated cottages that can be assembled in a caretaker’s backyard. They allow for privacy, with the convenience of proximity to caretakers, without actually living in a family member’s home. Much like a tiny apartment, granny pods are small, high-tech cottages equipped like a hospital room that can monitor the person’s vitals and remind them to take their medicine. Special built-in sensors can even notify caregivers if the person falls. Granny pods are relatively inexpensive, and the pod’s utilities are simply hooked up to the main house’s sewer, water and power.
IN-HOME AND LIVE-IN CARE
There are also many in-home health care options which allow seniors to remain in their homes and receive specific home health care services tailored to their needs. Nursing and other home health care (physical therapy, speech therapy, skilled nursing, independent living services and home health aide services such as eating, bathing and dressing) can be delivered in the home. There are a variety of providers in southeast Minnesota who offer these services, enabling seniors to remain in their homes much longer than in the past.
For those seniors who require medical care and can no longer live independently—but would prefer to live in a home-like setting—there are also live-in home care options like Country Cottage Senior Living in Plainview. Owner Jamie Ratz, RN, and her staff provide care customized to each client’s needs in a home-like setting. Ratz explains that Country Cottage Senior Living offers a “bridge from living at home until they need a higher level of care.” Live-in home care Ratz says, “provides a homier environment.” Services provided at Country Cottage Senior Living include: continuous supervision, RN case management, medication management, personalized care, health monitoring, day-to-day participation with everyday tasks and three meals plus a snack each day. Live-in home care is often an enormous relief to family members who can take comfort in knowing that their loved one is being cared for in a safe and peaceful environment by well-trained staff.
There are many advantages of pursuing alternative senior living arrangements. It helps preserve independence, self-worth and dignity, and in many cases, it allows for a healthier and more active lifestyle. As one ages and the challenges of the activities of daily living become more significant, an option like Country Cottage Senior Living may be an attractive alternative.
ENVISIONING A BRIGHT FUTURE
Deciding how you will live your later years requires advanced planning. Because this topic is one that many folks are uncomfortable discussing, it can easily become a back-burner item. Making your own decisions—rather than having them made for you—can give you peace of mind about the future. If you haven’t planned how you intend to live your remaining years, or if you have a parent who has not decided how they want to live out their days, there is no better time than the present to envision the future on your terms. Of course, you will need to factor in several considerations accounting for how long you expect to live, your financial situation and your dreams and goals for the rest of your life. Each day, people are reimagining their futures and considering options that were not available to previous generations—looking forward to their senior years.
Cindy Mennenga is a freelance writer, health coach and along with her husband John, owns Conspectus Home Inspection Services, LLC based in Rochester. Visit conspectusmn.com for more information.