What Is Assisted Living, Anyway?

March 22, 2011, Allaboutestates:
When touring retirement residences with my client who was in her late 90’s at the time, she turned and looked at me and said- boy, there are lots of old people here. I don’t think this is for me.
I can tell you that it is a typical response; and quite a good one I would say. You may be familiar with the maxim “you are as old as you feel”- well this sure holds true for those who do not see themselves as ‘old’. Perhaps they seem themselves as ‘older’ but clearly age is only a birthdate.
Many retirement residences cater to well seniors and are targeted to the young senior. A perfect alternative for those who wish to downsize, remain their independence and give up the chores of home ownership- such as snow shoveling, maintenance and repairs. As well, the option to give up other household responsibilities such as cleaning, laundry and cooking are also positive incentives.
Most retirement residences include rent, meals (one, two or three a day), laundry and housekeeping, 24 hour on call supervision, supervised activities as well as access to all on site amenities. These amenities may include an exercise room, billiard room, large screen television/media room, chapel, library and some may have a private dining area where family functions can be held). Some may have beauty salons on site. Most also have a visiting physician on a weekly basis.
Health related services such as medication monitoring and any additional care assistance provided by the facilities staff (personal support workers, registered nurse) are add on services available at a monthly fee. Some residents are able to still access publicly funded services from their local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) and other choose to bring in their own private companions in addition to the care component available at the residence.
Some retirement settings are designed for residents to ‘age in place’ which provides for an increased availability of care including palliative services. Others are unable to meet the medical needs of a new or changed condition and decline in functional status. Unfortunately, this then results in clients have to make yet another move. When reviewing our retirement choice questionnaire and providing counsel to my clients regarding choice of retirement settings, I review the 3 C’s: Care, Cost, Choice.
Care: understand the current and anticipated course of the person’s disease/health status. What health services and medical care is available or is able to be easily accessed at the various retirement settings.
Cost: how much will it cost? What do I need to live out my days with the level of support that I need or desire and in the lifestyle I have chosen?
Choice: What geographic area is preferred? Identify some boundaries. Would you like to live close to your community- whether this is church, family, friends or shopping?
I also recommend that trial stays, short term, respite or convalescent stays are an excellent way to try out the new considered setting. Enjoy a tour and lunch or participate in one of their community welcome events. Retirement settings are an excellent alternative for many.
-Audrey Miller

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