Alan D. Feller, Esq.
Housing Options For Aging Adults
I have missed a step going downstairs a few times over the years. Except for the resulting adrenaline rush and the crush of gravitational and centrifugal forces on my body, there were no other ill effects. Aging changes a person’s relationship with their environment. A missed step is no laughing matter when the risk of serious injury multiples. A multi-level home may have been an ideal family residence for decades, but aging concerns should spur you to discover and examine safer housing options.
Aging in place is “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” Remaining in one’s home while aging requires an understanding of financial and practical realities. Recurring costs such as mortgage, taxes, utilities, maintenance costs and non-recurring costs like repairs, appliance replacement and decorating will continue. Added to that will be safety modifications including personal alarms, bathroom and shower improvements, step railings and chair lifts. Infrastructure is only one part of the equation. Having reliable family members, friends, neighbors, skilled contractors, plumbers and electricians available to assist may buy time as aging’s effects take hold.
Transitions from a multi-level home to a single-story residence or apartment with elevator access allow for easier mobility within a unit. Housing stock in the Hudson Valley is replete with raised ranches and colonials. Kitchens, bedrooms, laundry rooms and utility rooms are often scattered between two or three separate floors. A far-flung laundry room is an issue if age-related mobility problems reduce laundry room usage. The same goes for home and landscaping maintenance which will fall off if physical limitations intrude on a loved one’s capacity for housework.
Suburban senior independent living communities retain the architectural characteristics of single-level living combined with socialization, meal plans and maintenance services. Seniors can continue their active lifestyles, drive and enjoy their days while knowing that a support system is in place to reduce strenuous chores. Some independent living communities are part of larger Continuing Care Retirement Communities which offer residents housing options through all stages of need from independent through nursing care. Examine the contracts and cost sheets for these communities closely. The range of services carries more complex financial arrangements.
Assisted Living has many of the underpinnings of independent living – individual living units, organized outings, and socialization combined with on-site medication services and available physician wellness appointments. Meals are served in dining rooms with some café options available throughout the day. Even with the myriad of Covid-19 restrictions, many assisted living facilities still have amenities reminiscent of a resort hotel. Staff at Assisted Living facilities also tend to have more medical training. Memory care units have been added to several assisted living programs to accommodate seniors dealing with mild dementia, but whose mobility has remained stable. Private pay, certain Long Term Care Insurance, and the Medicaid ALP Level 3 program where available covers rent.
A senior requiring assistance beyond a broad independent or assisted living framework will have to look to either home health aides or nursing home level care where private pay, Long Term Care Insurance or Medicaid are the payer sources. Sometimes, aging and illness impacts a senior to the point that they have to skip over intermediate housing options. Home health aides allow a person to remain at home. Oversight and contingency planning will often fall to a family caregiver. Home care works best when there is a strong support system behind the person needing care.
Nursing homes are options of last resort, but do provide care beyond what assisted living can provide. When a person’s activities of daily living are compromised and the support system can no longer provide the necessary oversight, then other housing options become unsafe. For more information on senior housing options, contact the professionals at Sloan and Feller today.