Housing Options

housing options Senior Housing a Remedy for Loneliness?

by Kimberly Blanton, Squared Away Blog

August 25, 2016

“After his wife of 36 years died from cancer, Dick St. Lawrence experienced something new: loneliness.

‘Worst feeling in the world,’ St. Lawrence, 81, said about Linda St. Lawrence’s death in the winter of 2014.

Like many widows and widowers before him, he had to build a new life for himself, despite having the comfort of a large family of four living children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. His first small step was accepting an invitation to play poker at Shillman House, an independent housing community for seniors. The man who called to invite St. Lawrence knew a woman who used to play Mahjongg with Linda.

Next thing he knew, he’d sold their family home in Framingham, Mass., around the corner from Shillman House, and settled into one of its 150 apartments. Now he plays two poker games a week, works out at his old gym, and socializes with Shillman’s residents every evening in the dining room. At night, his Cairn terrier, Rusty, keeps him company during Red Sox games on television.

‘I want to visit as long as I can,’ Dick St. Lawrence jokes about his plan to spend his final days there.

The vast majority of baby boomers in an AARP survey said they want to age in their homes ‘as long as possible.’  But when the rubber meets the road – in old age – the elderly often learn that isolation is bad for their psyche and their health.

There are downsides even to living in a community for independent seniors, with the constant reminders of the vulnerabilities that come with aging. When a Shillman resident suddenly becomes ill and is driven away in an ambulance, dread quickly spreads among the residents that he or she might not be coming back.

Still, they say, the positives far outweigh the negatives. All in their 80s, the seniors interviewed have visibly slowed down but are still enjoying vigorous social lives.”

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From the 2016-2017 Colorado Senior Resource Guidebook:

Retirement Communities

“Designed to provide a complete lifestyle for those of retirement age.  Retirement Communities offer private living facilities with support services ranging from meals to health care monitoring, transportation to and from appointments, linen service and weekly housecleaning, and educational and entertainment services.  Communities may offer independent apartments, assisted living residences, and/or nursing home care.  Costs vary significantly.

Many communities focus on active older adult living offering fitness and exercise programs, wellness centers, meal programs and more.  Other communities have Nursing Homes and Assisted Living facilities on their campus.  Some facilities are now offering continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs).  These facilities are designed to allow residents to ‘age in place’ and receive flexible levels of assistance as they require it.  CCRCs  usually require a large entrance fee (the range of the fee is, as well as a monthly fee, for care and services).  The entrance fee may be partially refundable.”

Assisted Living Housing

“Residents must normally be ambulatory to live in an assisted living residence.  Assisted Living Residences offer private or semi-private living quarters complemented by a variety of services that include meals, the monitoring and/or administration of medications, transportation and recreational activities.  They provide help with bathing, dressing and other activities of daily living if necessary.  Some or all services may be available as part of the resident agreement or for an extra charge.  Residences that indicate ‘Early Alzheimer’s’ do not offer a secured facility or environment.  Facilities can continue to care for patients who receive hospice services.  The facility must have specially trained staff and a contract with the participating hospice.

Individuals who meet the functional assessment (as assessed on form ULTC 100.2) may be eligible for help from Medicaid.  After meeting the functional assessment, individuals must meet the financial guidelines.  To receive assistance from Medicaid, individuals must be eligible for Home and Community Based Services.  In order to apply for this benefit, inquire with the facility admissions staff.  Some facilities only accept the PACE program.

Assisted Living Residences are licensed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  For information about assisted living residences’ occurrences, complaints and surveys, visit www.healthfacilities.info.”

Nursing Care Facilities

“Nursing Homes provide twenty-four hour custodial and/or skilled nursing care, coupled with hygiene, activities programs and social work.  Many offer specific programs for Alzheimer’s and hospice patients.  In addition, most Nursing Homes have a Rehabilitation Unit (or Medicare Unit) where individuals discharged from the hospital but unable to return home safely, may spend time in therapy, learning to walk or other strengthening activities.

Medicare rates nursing care facilities overall and on health inspections, nursing home staffing and quality measures using a star rating system.  More stars are better.  The ratings…help individuals make decisions about selecting a nursing home.  Although the star rating system represents a specific moment in time, it can help to guide decisions. Visiting the facility and asking questions is always the best way to make decisions, especially about where you or a loved one will be living.

Nursing homes are surveyed at least once every eighteen months.  The results of the last survey are available at www.medicare.gov by clicking on Nursing Home Compare.  This site also includes information on quality of care such as bed sores, activities of daily living, wound care and more.  In addition, any complaints and occurrences that are filed with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment can be reviewed at www.healthfacilities.info.”

Adult Day Care

“Adult Day Programs encourage the active participation of frail seniors in a variety of activities ranging from social to educational pursuits.  Whether utilized as a way to fill lonely hours or as a means of sharing knowledge and special life skills, these centers offer a safe, comfortable alternative to what may be inappropriate placement in full time care. Care is provided for individuals unable to be left alone during the day.

Medicaid may be available if individuals cannot afford the daily rates.  Individuals must meet the qualifying requirements of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) both financially and functionally.  Expenses for adult day care must be less than the daily costs paid to a nursing home for Medicaid to assist with reimbursement.  The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing certifies Adult Day Care units that accept Medicaid.  For a list of licensed facilities that accept Medicaid, visit www.healthfacilities.info.  If a facility does not accept Medicaid, it does not have to be licensed, certified or registered with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.”

You can get the Senior Resource Guidebook by calling the Colorado Gerontological Society at 303-332-3482 or by ordering at www.senioranswers.org.  I picked up a free copy at the Harmony Branch of the Ft. Collins Library.  The Society’s website includes many other useful resources for seniors.

“The Guidebook contains essential information for seniors, including information about Medicare, Medicaid, long term care insurance, prescription drug coverage, veterans benefits, and more. Of particular use, the Guidebook provides comparison listings of Colorado senior housing options (Independent Living, Retirement Communities, Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Care Residences) and help in the home (Adult Day Care, Home Care and Hospice). These listings include addresses and phone numbers, rates, services offered, and additional specific information such as Medicare Star Quality ratings for Nursing Care Facilities and service areas for Home Care.”

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