Weigh amount of care needed when choosing senior living facility

Telegraph correspondentSeptember 30, 2012 

Middle Georgia’s senior population is increasing and so are choices in senior and elderly living.

The U.S. Bureau of the Census calculates Georgia’s 65 and older population will increase by 143 percent from 2000 to 2030, according to a study by Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies called “Georgia’s Aging Population: What to Expect and How to Cope.”

Senior living options range from aging in place and independent living situations to assisted living, nursing homes and other specific care facilities based on need. Middle Georgia has hundreds of facilities large and small to meet one or more of these options and levels of need.

Many older adults are able to remain in their homes as they age while relying on family, friends and community health care services to meet their needs.

This is considered aging in place.

Others may enjoy independent living, which refers primarily to living arrangements in rooms, apartments, condominiums or even neighborhoods geared exclusively to seniors, and that feature easily navigated, compact living quarters and help with what little outside maintenance there may be. There may also be common recreation centers or clubhouses, and minor assistance may be provided for routine activities. This setting allows for a more routine life and ongoing socialization.

Assisted living settings are for those needing a greater level of help and personal care in daily life.

This may include help with medications as well as routine tasks. The assisted living setting may be apartment-like or a single room, but there is typically a common dining area. Costs may depend on the level of care required, even though staff is generally available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When more around-the-clock care or specific healthcare is called for, the nursing home option is available. This is a higher level of care and includes much greater medical attention, typically with the oversight of licensed medical practitioners, on-site staff and trained medical personnel. Physical therapists, occupational therapists and other special service professionals often are available.

Nursing homes may be thought of as a short-term as well as a long-term care option.

High blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease were the two most common chronic conditions diagnosed among residential care patients in a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called, “Residents Living in Residential Care Facilities: United States 2010.”

High blood pressure was diagnosed in 57 percent of patients, while Alzheimer’s patients were close behind at 42 percent.

The need for care for those with specific, chronic conditions -- notably Alzheimer’s -- is clear. Care may be found at facilities that serve those with a specific condition only, or facilities that serve a general senior population as well as have separate care units catering to those with chronic conditions requiring acute care.

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