Q: I think my kids are trying to put me in a home. What are my choices?
A: As seniors age, they must make decisions about their living arrangements. Since Florida is the state with the oldest average age, we are very familiar with the different options open to the aging population. Without a doubt, the most important consideration expressed by seniors is the ability to control their futures to the greatest extent possible. Fortunately, there are several viable options for senior homes in Florida that offer varying degrees of autonomy.
Any clear-headed assessment of future options requires seniors and their families to think about a variety of needs:
· Physical Needs: With aging comes the need for more medical support and assistance with daily living activities. A lot of activities we take for granted may become more difficult as we enter our 70s, 80s or 90s. The kind of daily activities we are talking about include cooking, cleaning, shopping, and perhaps more intensive care: bathing, eating, dressing, etc. Sometimes, sudden medical conditions arise that force a radical life-style change – conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. Other times, seniors may undergo a slow deterioration in health – for example, Alzheimer’s or COPD. The statistics indicate that 75 percent of individuals over 65 years old will require long-term health care services at some future time.
· Psychological Needs: The social and emotional needs of older persons, especially men, should not be overlooked. Men are more apt to become loners as they age, a situation that can lead to depression and self-neglect. A social network and/or assisted living arrangement can help meet a senior’s psychological needs.
· Financial Needs: Long-term care can be very expensive, so a good idea is to take out a LTC policy while you are still relatively young and in good health – this will help keep the premiums down. You will also want to put aside some money to modify your house as needed.
Given these needs, seniors can select the most appropriate living situations for their current conditions:
1. Aging in Place: This is by far the most popular choice among seniors who wish to live as independently as possible. Use a reputable contractor to modify your home design to accommodate your current needs and support your active lifestyle.
2. Assisted Living Facility: Good for semi-independent seniors who can manage mostly on their own but need some daily support. With any luck, you will have neighbors that won’t drive you crazy.
3. Nursing Home: Necessary when your medical condition requires you receive continuous nursing support. Nursing home quality varies greatly – don’t let your children stick you in a dump.
4. Hospice: A good place to die with dignity. Hospices are pleasant and provide all the comfort care you need, including pain-killing medications.