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If Not Home, Then What?

In my last posting, I talked about how a caregiver can facilitate an older adult’s decision around when it is time to surrender driving their own car.  As I said in that blog, it is important as a caregiver to help facilitate the older adult’s decision about something like driving a car versus retiring a car rather than make the decision for them.  It is no less true of decisions on living at home versus moving to a senior residential community. 

Let me help you with some of what I have learned in talking with hundreds of older adults who have wrestled with this decision.

Let me start by saying that yes, it is in part a decision based on financial means.  Even selling one’s home and the financial windfall that sale can represent may not provide enough funds for a couple or individual to move into a senior residential community – especially some of those that feature resort-like amenities in the Sun Belt or elsewhere.

Research among individuals who are “age-qualified” to reside in a senior residential facility offers some amazingly consistent findings.  First, only about one in twenty to one in ten individuals with enough income and assets actually want to live in a community of seniors.  What attracts these few to senior communities is fairly consistent. 

Older adults most often are looking to give up the heavier duties of living in their own homes.  They value having someone else mow the lawn, shovel the walk and otherwise maintain the grounds.  They also like the idea of handing over the responsibilities for heavy cleaning and even regular upkeep.  And the security of having a place in which they feel protected from strangers while still enjoying the freedom of coming and going is also key.

Where the community is located is not quite as important as knowing that they will have easy access to shopping and entertainment.  One of the draws of some of these communities is the religious sponsorship that means the individual will be among others of similar spiritual orientation.  And they want to know that they will continue to be as active as they wish.

So during the holidays if the conversation with elders in your midst begins to turn to some of the responsibilities of home ownership that weigh upon them, they may be ready to discuss alternatives.  It starts with what they may not want to do….not what they cannot do any longer. 

In an upcoming blog, I will be talking with Eric Parker on a more medically-driven decision –  how to select a nursing facility.

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

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