Look in a directory of senior and care housing options, and you may get lost in the words. So many options it's a little like a toddler in a 31-flavor ice cream store. The good news is that there's an abundance of help for your aging parent, whether you're looking for the future, or for next week.
There are many options besides a skilled nursing facility. Here's a list.
1. In-home help--Home care agencies provide a gamut of services, from housekeeping, home maintenance and yard care, to companionship and help with personal care, such as bathing and dressing. This help typically runs about $25-$27 an hour, and works if the senior has scheduled needs.
2. Senior housing--This is for very independent seniors. There are usually no services or care, just a group of older people living together in community. Often they're located near senior centers or other community resources. Pricing varies widely. Samples: HUD Housing (for very low incomes), Affordable Housing (for low to moderate incomes), Senior Condos, 55 and older apartments.
3. Retirement communities--Meals, housekeeping, activities and transportation are routinely offered as part of the monthly fee. If seniors need help with bathing, dressing or medications, they typically contract with a home care agency.
4. Assisted living communities--In addition to services of a retirement community, assisted living communities provide 24-hour emergency and personal care help. There is a huge variety in programming. Some are premised on a social model, emphasizing activities and others on a medical model, offering very heavy care. In many states, assisted living communities can perform duties that once were only available in a nursing home, such as two-person transfers (when your parent needs two people to get him or her out of bed or out of a chair), and diabetic insulin care.
5. Retirement/assisted living communities--This type of community is a combination of the two previous options, allowing residents to move in when they are still quite independent and "age in place," receiving more services as their needs grow.
6. Continuing Care Retirement Communities--These often require an entrance fee of anywhere from about $100,000 to over a million dollars. Some entrance fees are wholly or partially refundable. Monthly fees are usually lower than in a rental retirement community. Seniors moving in are generally younger and more active. As their needs change, they can move to other sections of the community for assisted living and nursing care.
7. Memory Care--Some assisted living communities have a special section to residents with moderate to severe memory issues. Other communities serve only people with dementia.
8. Adult family homes--This type of care is not available throughout the nation. In Washington State, these homes can serve at most six residents. Usually two caregivers are on site to provide care. Adult family homes can offer virtually every type of care provided by a nursing home, with the exception of IVs and ventilators. Because the house is small, this setting is particularly good for those who need 24-hour direct supervision.
Good luck in untangling the senior housing and care maze! If you need help, post a comment below, and I'll contact you.