Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Eldercare Blog Turns One Year Old!

A Boomer's Guide to Eldercare is a year old! Like the mother of a toddler who stuffs an entire piece of birthday cake in her mouth, I'm beaming!

Help me celebrate. I'd love to hear from you as I toddle along into the second year. I promise I won't be a "terrible two" next time.

Here are several of my most popular posts. Enjoy! They're less fattening than chocolate cake.

Help! I've Lost My Way Finding a New Place for Mom

Now You See Them, Now You Don't--Long Distance Caregiving

How to Sell Your Parent's Home in Seven Days

Before Using a Senior Care Referral Agency, Ask These Questions...

Friday, February 18, 2011

'Affordable' Senior Housing--Three Models

"Affordable Senior Housing" isn't a marketing term. It describes housing for low to moderate-income elders that offers clean, well-maintained apartments at a low price. Perhaps your aging parent might be interested.

Nationwide,low-budget senior living options take many forms. While they all have age and income limits, they differ in terms of cost, sponsorship, services and amenities. Here are three models in the Greater Seattle area.

HUD Affordable Housing--Northaven Retirement Apartments in North Seattle, offers more services than most HUD communities. Its 194 apartments have "market rates" rents from $468 to $624. Even lower rates are possible for those with incomes of $18,000 or less. The biggest plus about Northaven are the extras--one meal each weekday for $125 a month, plus housekeeping, transportation and on-site assisted living.

Other Income Qualified Apartments--Woodlands at Forbes Lake in Kirkland, Washington, offers subsidized senior housing of a different sort. A newer building, it has spacious common areas including a library, dining area, kitchen and computer area. Apartments are larger than found in HUD housing--no studios. Rents range from $726 to $1050, well below market. This community is owned by SHAG (Senior Housing Assistance Group.)

Full-Service Retirement Community--Evergreen Court in Bellevue, Washington, is a retirement and assisted living community for low to moderate-income seniors. With three meals a day, weekly housekeeping, transportation and activities, it fills a unique niche in this region. Besides retirement living, ranging from $1712 to $2446 for spacious one and two-bedrooms, assisted living is also available.

Affordable senior housing takes other forms: vouchers and apartments set aside for low-income people within a building which is otherwise market rate.

To find affordable senior housing in your area, contact your senior services department.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is 'Affordable' Senior Housing in Your Parent's Future?

For many elders on limited incomes, "affordable senior housing" is a magical term. It promises low and/or subsidized rents, plus services and social contact. Perhaps it's an answer to your aging parent's prayers.

Low-income senior housing began in the early 60s with the HUD model. More recently other subsidized programs have sprung up nationwide to fill in the gap between fixed incomes and rising rents. These affordable options have the following characteristics:

Location: Affordable housing programs are often located near bus lines, hospitals, medical clinics, senior centers and shopping.

Services/Amenities: Most affordable senior apartments don't have a dining program. They offer limited transportation--trips to the grocery store, senior center, and infrequent excursions. Monthly potlucks, frequent card and game nights, and exercise classes are examples of calendar items and are generally led by volunteers. With notable exceptions, assisted living is not usually located on campus.

Age Qualifications: In most communities, residents must be at least 55 or 62. Some affordable senior apartments accept disabled younger people.

Financial Qualifications: Eligibility is based on a percentage of the median household income of the surrounding area. For example, in Bellevue, Washington, where I work at Evergreen Court Retirement and Assisted Living Community, our residents qualify for the tax credit (subsidized) program if their income is not more than $36,000 for a single or $41,100 for a couple. That number is 60% of the median household income of King County.

The next post will profile three different kinds of senior affordable housing. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Do You Know Your Aging Parent's 'Love Language'?

Valentine's Day is coming! What a perfect season to dust off The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman's best-seller from 1992. Initially aimed at married couples, the book's popularity continues today. There are hundreds of discussion groups and spinoffs including The Five Love Languages of Children and The Five Love Languages of Teenagers. Chapman's premise is useful in any relationship, including with our aging parent.

Chapman asserts that everyone has a primary "language" to give and receive love. Those are: acts of service, quality time, giving and receiving gifts, physical touch and words of affirmation. When we undertand our aging parent's primary love language, and give him what he needs, he receives a sort of electronic shock in his soul.

The key is identifying your aging parent's "language." If she gives love in a certain way, she will likely appreciate receiving in that same language. Here's how the love languages work in some of my family members.

1. Acts of Service: Grandpa Harley, a man of few words, mowed the church's lawn, tended to the flowers and quietly prayed for the pastor every Saturday night. He appreciated Grandma Lena's incredible meals and help with domestic chores.

2. Quality Time: My father-in-law enjoys taking friends and family out to lunch. He loves an invitation to our extended family dinners.

3. Receiving Gifts: Every chance she gets, my mother-in-law brings all of us homemade jam, soup and other goodies. She appreciates cards and gifts and hand-colored pictures from the grandchildren.

4. Physical Touch: Carolyn, our hugging relative, can't let five minutes go by at a family gathering before she corners the kids and anyone else within reach, giving them a bear hug. Obviously, she likes to receive them, too.

5. Words of Affirmation: Uncle Dale is a "connector." When he introduces people, he affirms each person with positive comments about their achievements. He appreciates the same.

Try to observe your aging parent. Can you guess their primary love language? Their secondary one? Tell us about it.
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