Ask an Angel: November 2, 2017

Our Ask An Angel correspondent is Arlene Petersen, Life Care Navigation Specialist in the area of senior home care.

Q. Please tell me what types of care options are available to seniors. I see lots of construction going on, but I’m not sure what these communities offer.

A. There was a time when living options for seniors was very limited, especially in the northern suburbs. Over the past few years, our general area has seen quite a surge in new construction of several types of communities. These options can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t understand what’s “inside.” Let’s look at the options. Large communities, called continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) offer a model that includes independent living, assisted living, or skilled care. This can include single family homes, apartments, or a room in the community. Memory care may or may not be a part of the plan. A CCRC allows people to move from one level of care to another within the community. The idea is to have seamless care throughout the life of an individual. Various financial models are often available and should be thoroughly reviewed. Assisted living communities offer apartments for people who need some assistance with activities of daily living. Some assisted living communities are memory care specific, and that is a differentiator that is important to make note of. If a resident needs more care, a move may be in the picture. Assisted living communities may only deliver a certain level of care. It is important to understand the guidelines they must follow so that if health does change, there won’t be any surprises. There are a few group homes in our area and that is where several people share a home and are assisted by two or more staff members. This staff usually lives in the home, with at least one on the property at all times. A group home runs similarly to an assisted living, except on a much smaller scale. In this living arrangement, it is important to ask questions about the regulations that must be complied with. Nursing homes are communities for people who need a higher level of care. Many have memory care units for patients who struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. These communities provide full care to those who cannot care for themselves, especially those needing medical care. All of these communities have rules and regulations they abide by. Make sure you educate yourself with the right questions, so you can properly compare the care they provide.

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