After raising kids in the family home and living there for decades, it may be hard for aging adults to consider a life anywhere else. When debilitating illness or a terminal condition requires advanced care, options are limited. But for the senior who moves by choice, that next step can provide a wider variety of living options. When should we be making that decision, and what should we look for when we plan for that next phase of our lives?
This week on Take Care, Barbara Dopyera Daley, a social gerontologist and elder life advocate in Syracuse, explains a variety of housing options for seniors. Daley holds a master's degree in gerontology and public policy and consults with organizations, individuals and their families on issues related to care and aging.
Click 'Read More' to hear our interview with Barbara Dopyera Daley.
When it comes to moving out, the “when” may be more unclear than the “where.” So when should an aging adult decide to move? Daley says there is no specific age adults should make this choice, but instead there are many questions you should ask yourself.
According to Daley, these are some of the questions older adults should consider asking themselves:
- Are you falling, more or at all?
- Do you feel anxious or lonely?
- Are you forgetting... if you've eaten, left the stove on, your medication or appointments, or what you said? Are you repeating yourself?
- How is your driving?
- What's your financial situation?
- Are you living in only a small part of your space?
- Do you have a medical condition that's worsening?
- Can your home be modified to accomodate you?
- How close are your support systems such as family, friends or church family?
- Can you sill be socially active and engaged to the level you want to be?
- What if you can't drive, take a fall, need help or have an emergency?
- Have you explored and insituted all the adaptations and helpful items (like monitors and safety bars) where you're currently living?
Daley says that it’s important to think about the unknowns, and to also ask friends and family members these questions about yourself. By doing this, seniors can better gauge when the right time to move is, and what the best housing option is as well.
“I think it’s important, although we don’t have a crystal ball, to kind of do the 'what if' game. And that means take note from what your friends are going through and the people around you and ask yourself: ‘what if I can’t drive? What if I take a fall? What if I need help? What if I have an emergency?'"
According to Daley, there are two main types of senior housing available: nursing homes, and assisted living. A nursing home offers seniors who require medical attention constant access to it. Assisted living is a more broad term, and assisted living can provide as much or as little care as a senior may need. One type of assisted living, called continuing care, may appeal to a variety of seniors because it offers care in a variety of capacities.
“[Continuing care retirement communities are] providing a continuum of care at different levels,” Daley said. “Often these facilities can involve an entry fee. So I think people do have the idea of looking for facilities that offer a broad range of services within the same campus. That has benefits because you don’t have to change necessarily locations, physical locations. It has really good benefits if it’s a similar campus just because if spouses have different needs, they don’t have to be in different communities or in places where they can’t see each other.”
If you're a senior in central New York, you can also take the time to complete this age-friendly survey. It's hoping to result in citizen recommendations for our community.