How to Make Informed Choices
Aging is a time of adaptation and change, and planning for the future will make sure your needs, or the needs of a loved one, are fully met. Continuing to thrive as you age means learning how to maintain your independence for as long as possible. This may mean modifying your own home, or it could mean choosing from a broad array of housing options with more support options on site.
There is a broad array of housing options available to seniors, from staying in your own home to specialized facilities that provide round-the-clock nursing care. The names of the different types of housing options can sometimes be confusing, as the terminology can vary from region to region. The main difference will be in the amount of care provided for activities of daily living and for medical care. When researching housing options, make sure it covers your required level of care and that you understand exactly what the community offers and the costs involved.
To help you make informed choices, you will find questions specific for each area of housing and care at home when you visit the SEARCH tab on the Center for Positive Aging website. So if you choose Assisted Living/Personal Care Home, for example, you will find questions you may want to consider when choosing an Assisted Living/Personal Care Home.
When planning ahead, consider the needs you might have in the future:
- Physical and medical needs. As you age, you may need some help with physical needs, including activities of daily living. This could range from shopping, cleaning, and cooking to intensive help with bathing, toileting, moving around, and eating. You or a loved one may also need increasing help with medical needs. These could arise from a sudden condition, such as a heart attack or stroke, or a more gradual condition that slowly needs more and more care. About 70 percent of individuals over the age of 65 will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime.
- Social and emotional needs As you age, your social networks may change. Friends or family may not be close by, or neighbors may move or pass on. You want to make sure that you have continuing opportunities for maintaining and building new social networks. If you become isolated and housebound, it can have an adverse effect on your mental health.
- Available Resources (e.g. financial, insurance, family & friends, government, etc.) Long-term care can be expensive, and balancing the care you need with where you want to live requires careful evaluation of your budget. You may consider moving to a housing community with more onsite care or easier maintenance, or modifying your home and using in-home help if necessary.
Visit www.CenterForPositiveAging.org to SEARCH for providers, find additional information and resources for caregivers, better understand governmental & other agency programs/services, and access several other educational tools and materials.