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A House is Not a Home (Part 3)

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At CCM, home and safety are as important to us as to you, so it’s no surprise that it’s a common topic of our discussion. I have asked Gregory Peebles to talk about this topic from the vantage point of his experience. Gregory is both a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) whose work focuses on helping aging adults and folks with limited independence by providing resources and support to help them discover and lead their best life. An Associate Care Manager, Gregory has been a part of our team for over a decade. – Charlotte

Home.

Not only is there no place like it, conveniently located wherever you hang your hat, that fits–like an old, comfortable shoe, but it’s also a place that once we leave, to which we can never return. While most find this very stressful, some are secretly happy for a new chapter. Indeed, lots of people confirm they like adventure, but small is the number who enthusiastically embrace major residential change. So what’s the difference?  Well, for one, the direction of action: people elect to go on adventures, but change just seems to happen to us.

This is a major life change, and those inclined deserve the opportunity fully to grieve their loss of home sweet home. However, once the initial grief has been addressed, we’ve got work to do!  Change isn’t the end, and there’s plenty of life and happiness yet to be found no matter the location. Where that happens is up to you. The diversity of the experience of aging can be exciting, and, with the number of Americans joining the group of aging adults, the kinds of communities that now exist will only become more varied.

Right now the kinds of accommodations available generally fall into a few groups.

  • Active Adult Communities – Often neighborhoods with individual bungalows, these communities are based on the model of so-called “snow birds” who opt to transition to such a residential community rather than maintain a larger space. Living in one of these communities requires a high level of independence (and income). Individuals or couples with highly social personalities thrive in this setting.
  • Independent/Congregant Living – Facilities of this type, while slightly less luxurious than an Active Adult Community, feature many of the same accommodations with a denser population. In an urban setting, they are often high-rise apartments indistinguishable from nearby housing, with dining, health care, and leisure activities on the premises. If considering this type of facility, be sure to keep nearby entertainment and accessibility in mind.
  • Assisted Living – A senior for whom it has become difficult to care for themselves either because of physical limitations or decreasing independence will often find an exciting new life in such a facility, either through public assistance or private pay, where skilled staff are present to provide diverse care. If the care receiver is also living with cognitive decline, such a facility with a “Memory Unity” may be advisable.
  • Skilled Nursing – On average, aging adults who become residents within skilled nursing facilities – SNFs – are those who have health problems, who require 24-hour care, and whose ability to manage the Activities of Daily Living is severely impaired. Nursing home care, too, is expensive, but public assistance programs such as Medicare or Medicaid relieve the cost.

Change is difficult, but not unmanageable. New identities await us and are only limited by our willingness to embrace them and the imagination we bring to our experiences. Change is scary, and rightly so, but when we weather even the most difficult transitions together, and our lives are no longer recognizable from before, we may–if we choose to–learn that home is something that we take with us wherever we go, and that it is recognizable not by its address, but by the love shared and the people with whom we share it, common to both our memories and our futures.

One final thought: This is when people often reach out to Aging Life Care Professionals to help smooth the transition to a new residence and to ensure ongoing care. CCM has helped countless families like yours succeed in this new chapter. Contact us today and let us assist you.

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to info@creativecaremanagement.com.

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