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Getting Started: The Three Most Popular Housing Options for Seniors

As your parents age, they may need to consider augmenting or changing living arrangements. This can be a difficult transition for them and for you. It might seem daunting, but with some careful research and planning, the appropriate choice can be made, with the following three being the most popular ones. In determining which care environment is most appropriate for your parent, you'll want to start by carefully considering the activities of daily living (ADLs) – typically self-care activities like bathing, toileting and eating – and the instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) – things like grocery shopping, meal preparation, bill paying.  It's important to develop a clear understanding of your parent's current level of functioning and his or her expected level of functioning for the immediate future.  

The three most popular forms of elderly housing are:

Home health care
Home health care is assistance provided in the patient’s home, either by health care professionals or family and friends. The aim is to allow the recipient to remain in his or her own home and maintain a level of independence. As a supplement to home health care, the recipient can spend all or part of the day at an adult day care center, which provides social and therapeutic activities, meals and personal care. Adult day care centers can also provide a much-needed respite for that senior’s family caregivers. It should be mentioned too that improvements in technology have increased the number of conditions that can be safely managed in a home care environment.
Home monitoring today can measure heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, blood-oxygen level and electrocardiogram information and transmit them via a wireless connection for off-site medical monitoring. It can also do other much-needed tasks like monitor bathroom usage or medication dispensing. All of these allow better care for the patient while allowing that person freedom and independence.
Assisted living
For people who need more supervision, assisted independent living arrangements are another alternative. Facilities can range from small homes to condominium-style apartments housing hundreds of residents. The advantages for the patient in assisted independent living situations is they can retain their privacy yet have the added security that comes from having access to and being monitored by professional caregivers.
In the future, Americans will become more dependent on assisted independent living facilities, especially as the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease increases. Richard Grimes, CEO and president of the Assisted Living Federation of America says, “Assisted living is the fastest growing long-term care option in the United States because industry providers work aggressively to meet the needs of an aging population. More than 1 million seniors live in assisted living communities in the United States, and surveys consistently report satisfaction levels at an enviable 90 plus percentage points.”
Nursing home care
When self-care, home health care and assisted living care are no longer sufficient, then it’s time to consider nursing home care. Nursing homes provide continual, 24-hour skilled care to the recipients. It's important to visit the facilties you are considering as the quality can vary tremendously from home to home.
The American Health Care Association, a professional advocacy group, is focusing its efforts toward establishing new clinical goals for the operation of nursing homes. Included among them:
  • Reducing high-risk pressure ulcers
  • Reducing the rate of daily physical restraints
  • Improving pain management for both short- and longer-term nursing home residents
  • Assessing the satisfaction in the quality of care for both the resident and their families
  • Increasing staff retention rates
  • Increasing consistent assignment of nursing home staff, so residents primarily receive care from the same caregivers
Today the trend is for nursing homes to be more “home-like” and less “hospital-like” to create a more resident-centered environment. The goal is that it will  improve not only the emotional stability of the patients, but their physical stability as well.