In the United States, a “senior citizen” is considered someone who is over the age of 60 or 65. The good news is that most senior citizens are able to (and prefer to) remain living in their current homes but aging in place may not be a viable option for all senior citizens. The definition of aging in place is remaining in one’s own home safely and comfortably throughout the rest of the life cycle, but not all seniors who stay in their homes are safe and comfortable. Instead, they may need to make certain home renovations for their safety, or they may require some extra assistance.
Here are some of the most common living arrangements for senior citizens, in addition to aging in place.
Retirement communities are a type of independent living facility that can accept adults as young as 55. Unlike a traditional retirement home, these retirement communities are made up of duplexes/quadruplexes, apartments, condos, and/or townhomes, so each senior citizen or senior couple has their own living space— as opposed to sharing a living space with the other residents. These communities may also offer transportation, housekeeping, and meal services to their residents, as well as these amenities:
- Walking trails
- Tennis courts
- Pools/jacuzzis/hot tubs
- Meetings rooms
These communities don’t usually offer assistance with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, and toileting, because they’re independent living facilities. This means that healthy seniors who have maintained their health and are fully independent are residents. Even though these seniors are still fully independent, they may have chosen to move into a retirement community because their home required too many renovations to make it safer, or maybe they prefer to be near others their age. There are a variety of reasons why a senior would choose to move into a retirement community.
Nursing homes are the most common type of assisted living facility, and they’re usually reserved for seniors who need constant and/or specialized care. They are equipped to provide care for seniors experiencing mobility issues, as well as those suffering from more serious conditions, such as dementia. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes in the United States provide quality level care, and this can be the result of many reasons, including:
- Abuse and neglect
- Complications with Medicare and Medicaid
- Inadequate security
- Poor food quality
- Rising costs
- Smaller living quarters
- Understaffed and overcrowded homes
All of these issues can lead to nursing home patients getting abused and/or neglected by staff, other residents, and even visitors. Other issues include wandering patients, malnourished/dehydrated patients, and patients falling from beds or wheelchairs. If you believe that a loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect, contact a lawyer from NHLC to review your options.
Independent living and assisted living are broad categories, and a retirement community or a nursing home aren’t the only options. Another popular option is for seniors to move into the homes of their children or grandchildren— and this can be either an independent living or assisted living situation. However, elder abuse can occur in this living situation as well, and it usually results from the caregiver becoming burned out from constantly caring for their aging loved one.
Fortunately, there are respite care and adult daycare available to help relieve (temporarily) caregivers of their duties. Respite care offers relief for up to several months at a time, while adult daycare offers daily relief.
Memory care is a specific type of assisted living that focuses on caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. It differs from a nursing home in that it doesn’t necessarily provide medical care since dementia can’t be cured.
Hospice care is also known as end-of-life care, and like memory care, the goal isn’t to cure an illness. Instead, hospice care is for seniors (and others of any age) with a terminal illness. The goal is to make the patient as comfortable as possible and to also provide counseling for the patient and his or her family.
Healthy seniors who are still fully or mostly independent can continue to live independently, whether it’s in their own home, a family member’s home, or a retirement community. Those who need daily assistance or 24/7 medical or specialized care would benefit more from a quality assisted living facility, whether it be a nursing home, memory care, or hospice care.