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One size does not fit all when it comes to living arrangements for seniors. Naturally, seniors want to stay in the privacy and comfort of their own homes for as long as possible.
However, there comes a time when a change is needed. When that time comes, the search for a senior community can be overwhelming in the best of times, but even more so during a pandemic. Finding that “perfect fit” home that meets health care needs and lifestyle preferences takes patience, energy, and most importantly, time. With so many choices in housing, such as continuum of care communities, independent senior apartments, or assisted living facilities, how does one choose?
The good news is that moving is still possible, even during these difficult times. The reasons why seniors decide to move haven’t changed, but might be heightened during Covid. Isolation is one big reason. Often, seniors find themselves without meaningful interaction with peers or with family and friends, on a greater scale now that senior centers, day programs, and support groups have either closed or are only virtual. Moving to a senior apartment or assisted living allows seniors to have more social opportunities and to feel more connected to a community. Of course, all communities are practicing social distancing and face mask protocols, but activities and meals have, for the most part, resumed. If someone does test positive in a senior community, they do quarantine and Covid protocols do change. Instead of having meals together in the dining room, they are delivered to residents in their rooms. Activities also may be postponed during the quarantine as well.
Another major factor for making a move is a health crisis. Most seniors who are moving to an assisted-living facility are doing so because they need assistance with activities of daily living. An assisted-living facility provides three meals a day, housekeeping and laundry service, case management, transportation to doctor’s appointments, medication management, and assistance with personal care. There are caregivers in the building 24-hours a day. Residents have their own room or apartment and caregivers are there whenever needed. Covid protocols in these communities include bi-weekly testing for all staff, mask and social distancing for meals and activities, and a negative Covid test prior to moving in.
In some ways, Covid has highlighted a need for a change in living arrangements. If a senior depends on family or friends for meals or transportation and they are suddenly quarantined, that senior may have to do without. If they were living in a supportive community, their needs would be met by staff. Some independent senior living communities also provide meals and transportation to doctors and stores. For those seniors who do not need help with personal care or medication management, this may be a good choice.
Many times, a move to senior housing involves a downsize from a home or apartment. There are organizations that can help the family decide what to bring and coordinate the move. If the financial situation doesn’t allow for that or there are questions concerning finances, it’s advisable to meet with a financial expert or elder law attorney, or long-term care specialist. Social workers are also available to help coordinate services a senior may need if medical services are needed.
Although the decision to move can be emotional and difficult, it can also lead to a safer environment and a higher quality of life for the senior and their families.
Choice Connections NY, offers free guidance through an emotional and often confusing process. We work with seniors and their family members to identify specific needs and narrow the options to the most appropriate homes. For a free consultation call Choice Connections at 518.894.2443. choiceconnectionsny.com