Housing Options for the “Sunset” Years

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slm6326 (2)The search for senior housing can be both exciting and stressful. This pursuit is generally prompted by one of two things; an unexpected medical condition or the desire for an unhurried lifestyle.  Regardless, the key to a smooth decision process will depend on assessing current needs and how those needs may evolve over time. There are many options for senior housing available. Choosing the option that is right for you will ensure you are happy and healthy for many years to come.

Your senior years could best be described as your “sunset years.” Just as a sunset is arguably one of the most beautiful times of day, your sunset years can be beautiful as well – full of joy, relaxation and happiness. Proper planning for this season of life will ensure you continue to age successfully. Each older adult is different; what may be the most appropriate option for one individual may not be practical for another. There are three key factors to analyze when making decisions for senior living. An individual needs to hone in on their present and future finances, health, and lifestyle. After careful analysis, you may determine that modifying your current living arrangements with a companion service is the best current solution. Then again, transitioning to housing with more support and social options may be the better choice to fit your needs. Safety and comfort are the ultimate goals. So what are your options?

Aging in Place

For many of us, aging in the comfort of our own homes is the ideal choice for the sunset years. If this option is practical, modifying the home environment to make it safer is a good starting point. Many times, tripping hazards, such as rugs, should be removed. Ramps may need to be installed in place of stairs and grab bars may need to be mounted in bathrooms for ease of access with activities of daily living. An emergency response system may be worth looking into as well, especially if one lives alone.

Luckily, there are a wide range of services available to help keep people in their homes and maintain independence.  From in-home care to day care, there is likely an option that will support your needs. Keep in mind; care in the home can become very expensive. It would be wise to shop around for in-home services in advance. Lutheran Sunset Ministries offers Sunset Companion Services. This service provides non-medical home care services to seniors and disabled adults who need assistance to remain living at home.

Independent Living

The name given to any housing arrangement designed exclusively for seniors, independent living is generally an option available for someone looking to downsize with minimal living assistance. Also referred to as a retirement community, a retirement home, senior housing or senior apartments, this option grants an individual an opportunity to maintain maximum independence  in a smaller, easier-to-navigate setting, with maintenance and upkeep included and/or just a phone call away. The opportunity for socialization and availability of activities in this living model lures many to choose this care-free living option.

Assisted Living

Generally speaking, assisted living is retirement housing that is designed for those individuals that need very minimal assistance with activities of daily living. Commonly, the only support one in this environment may need is assistance with medication administration. Costs may vary depending on the level of support needed.

Assisted Living facilities are not as regulated, and thus, are not as standardized. There are different types of assisted living communities structured for different acuity levels. While one assisted living may feature studio living with a kitchenette, another may provide a one room suite with private bath. In some, a semi-private room may be an option for those looking to pay a cheaper rate.  A group dining area and common areas for recreational and social activities is pretty standard in this living model. Regardless of the facility, this senior living option provides peace of mind for many folks with around-the-clock assistance available.

Health Center

Normally known for providing the highest level of support outside of a hospital, health centers deliver all levels of assistance with daily living as well as any needed medical care. Each resident who moves into a health center chooses a primary physician. This physician directs the clinical well-being of the resident, while a team of in-house experts ensure the resident’s physical, social, spiritual and intellectual needs are met. Skilled nurses and rehabilitation specialists coordinate with doctors and make sure all clinical support needs are met.

Many health centers offer temporary support and rehabilitation for individuals that experience a hospitalization and lose some prior level of function. Fortunately, residents in and around Clifton have a hopeful answer in the Wm Martin Rehabilitation Center, Sunset Home’s rehabilitative therapy program. This center, along with many others like it in the area, provides an experienced clinical team of physical, occupational and speech therapists whose comprehensive rehabilitation services help patients achieve their greatest possible level of independence, allowing for a safe return home or to a lower level of care.

Are there retirement communities that offer a continuum of support?

There are retirement communities in some target areas that offer a full continuum of support all on one campus. Referred to many times as Continuing Care Retirement Communities, this model of living generally provides independent living, assisted living and health center support all in one location. Designed to accommodate any changes, these communities enable seniors to stay in the same general area if their housing needs modify over time. These communities are ideal for couples that want to be close but require differing levels of support.

Offering the only full continuum of care in Bosque County, Lutheran Sunset Ministries is the perfect example of what retirement living should be. With a 32-acre campus, it is designed as an intimate setting of neighborhoods that accommodate residents at every life stage. No matter your need – or the needs of your loved one – Lutheran Sunset Ministries would love to welcome you home and make you a part of our family.

Article by Lance Allen, Sunset Home administrator.

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