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North Hills Monthly

Range of Senior Living Options Designed to Meet Residents’ Unique Needs

Dec 31, 2019 11:30AM ● By Kathleen Ganster

Photo courtesy of Anthology of McCandless

Mom can no longer manage her four-bedroom house with its large lawn and upkeep. Dad is getting forgetful and can’t safely live alone. You want an easier lifestyle and time to enjoy your retirement instead of pouring your savings into a big  house. These are all reasons people begin to explore senior living options—but the options may be overwhelming.

The best thing to do is start with the basics. Pam Horne, admissions counselor at St. Barnabas Health System, suggested looking at several factors to narrow down choices.

“First, what is the whole picture? Are you looking at one person or a couple, which means either meeting one or two people’s different needs? What kind of care to they require? What services are provided?” she said. “I actually interview people to see what they need in order to determine what services meet those needs.” 

The level of care is perhaps the most important factor. For those who want to downsize and have less maintenance but can still care for themselves, independent living is the perfect option.

“This provides all of the amenities but not the hassles of homeowning,” Horne said. 

For example, at St. Barnabas, independent living options include carriage homes and various apartment arrangements. Services can include meals, activities, and transportation for shopping and other activities. 

Connor Hagey, director for retirement living at Concordia, agrees that independent living is a great option for those who are tired of home maintenance or who find it overwhelming expense-wise.

“They may not need any medical care, but the house is just too much with snow removal and lawn care—and they may not have the energy or resources to do those larger capital improvements to the house anymore,” he said. 

Like at St. Barnabas, those in Concordia’s independent living facilities enjoy the social benefits of living in a retirement community. “There are real health impacts to social isolation, so providing for social opportunities during meals and other activities is a huge benefit of retirement living,” Hagey said.

Independent living is a lifestyle, he added. “That is the heart of it. Look for a place that allows you to age safely in place. For many, steps become a big challenge as they age. Look for living options with safety features and the important amenities that you want.”

For those that need some assistance with daily living, Horne and Hagey both suggest exploring personal care options, also known as assisted living. 

“We refer to it as the ‘middle ground’ of care. There is staff 24/7 to assist if needed,” Horne said. 

Personal care might be the best fit for someone if they aren’t eating well, have trouble walking, are forgetful or have difficulty in taking a shower, need assistance in dressing, or have memory issues. 

“It is for those who need assistance with daily living skills. We often say it is like a cruise—it’s all-inclusive,” said Concordia Director of Admissions Amy Bailie. 

Personal care homes provide three meals a day, medication management, housekeeping and laundry services, some health care services, social programming and activities.  

“We have numerous activities to help with socialization. We have options such as outings a couple of times a month and have entertainment here several times a week,” said Horne. “Residents also have opportunities for seasonal activities such as baking cookies and caroling with groups that come to campus.” 

Short-term and long-term skilled nursing is for those who need more medical attention and assistance with daily living skills. “They may need to be transported from the bed to the chair, or need help with eating, or assistance with bathing and going to the restroom,” said Horne of the 24/7 health care services.

Bailie explained the differences between short- and long-term skilled nursing care.

“Short-term is for anyone from the 55-year-old recovering from a knee replacement to the 100-year-old recovering from a stroke. It is usually for about two weeks with the goal of getting strong enough to return home,” she said. “Long-term is when the care needs increase and someone needs care all of the time.” 

Anthology of McCandless senior living offers personal care and memory care options. 

“When it becomes challenging to manage home or day-to-day life, our personal care option can offer the right support,” explained Director of Sales Julie Barancho. “Our memory care option provides comprehensive care in a safe, nurturing environment for moderate to late-stage dementia, including care for behaviors like wandering and exit-seeking.” 

As with many senior living options, Anthology offers studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites in personal care, and private and companion suites in memory care. Concierge services, scheduled transportation,  home maintenance, and housekeeping and linen services are included, and Anthology also offers numerous social and recreational activities, exercise, and fitness and wellness programs. Staff, which includes a licensed nurse on-site 24/7, offers assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, grooming, and dining, along with coordination of care, specialized health care services and more.

“We also have a movie theater, art studio, salon, and a courtyard, and we are pet-friendly,” Barancho said. “Our culinary program features ‘anytime’ dining between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., where our residents can choose when they would like to sit down and have their meal. And our bistro is open 24/7 for light snacks and refreshments.”

Memory care accommodations have enhanced security measures and support services to ensure that residents remain safe, which include personal alert systems with high-tech, high-touch safety and security features; staff with specialized training who are certified in the Alzheimer’s Association CARES® EssentiALZ®; and consistent observation of resident health care and behavioral needs.

Payment plans and options vary among senior living communities depending on services needed. Some communities will require an initial deposit or down payment, while others charge by the month and level of care. It is important to discuss options and visit the communities prior to selecting a residence.

“Interview the choices and compare,” advised Horne. “We all want the best fit.”