Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Looking at Senior Living Communities


By Steven A. Buttice

What is home?  This writer believes home is a major part of our identity. Chances are, a married couple bought the home at a very exciting time of life. Families were raised in the home. Memories surround each room and piece of furniture. Vibrant bedroom colors may have been chosen by adult children when they were young. Great memories, but great memories do not always translate into a good and safe future.

As our bodies change with age, what was once simple may have become more complicated:  laundry in the basement, steps coming into a house, shelves up high, maintenance, and sometimes just living alone. In many cases, people can privately hire home care and receive assistance with help around the house. It is worth a couple of phone calls to see if this could be useful. However, that may not be practical or too costly. Sometimes, a home is where our heart is, but our body needs a bit more security or help. That’s were senior living complexes become realistic alternatives.

“Senior Living Complexes” vary substantially in independence, services, cost, and the way you would plan for the future. Your parent(s) could need an apartment with little to no services up to skilled, hands-on daily services, or more likely, a place in the middle. A newer concept is a facility offering a complete continuum of care. They have apartments and condos, assisted living with some services, to memory care or a skilled nursing center for someone who needs rehab or a great deal of care, and all of this is provided on one campus. Other people move into a very nice complex and decide that they will move to another location if ever they have the need. In either case, it may prove to be no more expensive than living at home, but would provide opportunities for socialization, exercise, and probably well-balanced meals. In the long run, living in a senior community may provide better quality of life and may actually save money on healthcare.

So, what determines the type of senior living community right for you or your loved one? The place to start usually revolves around a person’s income and assets. Depending upon income and assets, people can choose “assisted living” or “supportive living.” Both can provide hands-on care; however, the substantial difference, other than the amenities, is the type of state license. Supportive living provides a living environment for people either on, or that may be spending down to, public aid; assisted living is private pay.

People who can privately pay for services from assets, long-term care benefits, or a VA pension named the “Aid & Attendance Pension” may wish to consider a “continuing care retirement community” (CCRC) or “endowment home.” The difference from most other communities is that people in a CCRC and endowment homes have qualified assets or income, and they can usually stay there the rest of the life.

In addition, Central Illinois has several good “memory units” where they specialize in care for people with dementia. Other facilities specialize in rehab services, providing therapies to get a person back home following an accident, surgery, or debilitating illness.

A plan for the future can be created to give your parents, you, and your siblings peace of mind and lessen the chaos of a crisis. If there were a medical condition, such as Alzheimer’s, where your parent would decline in daily abilities, it would be best to consider and visit living facilities. These buildings are designed and built for seniors with the limitations of aging in mind. Many people are reluctant to move from their home, however, they may find themselves much more socially active and happier in the long run at one of these communities.

Coordinating care for your children and parents simultaneously is not easy. What can you do to manage this?  Three words of advice: plan, plan, and plan. Legal, financial, residential, mental, and physical healthcare elements must be addressed prior to a crisis. A sandwich generationer should guide their parent through these issues and the primary issue of safety, while being careful not to take all control away from a parent. Once again, it is important to start talking, making suggestions and guiding early; do not wait for a crisis.

For more information, contact Living By Your Design, Inc., focusing on the issues of older Americans: legal, financial, free guidance for residential referral healthcare issues. Call: 309-285-8088. Website: Location: 809 W. Detweiller Dr., Peoria, IL 61615.