Midstate offers variety of housing and care options for seniors

Telegraph correspondentOctober 6, 2013 

The growing senior population in Middle Georgia is finding a growing number of choices among senior and elderly living options.

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 which feature easily navigated, compact living quarters and help with what little outside maintenance is needed. 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.

Independent living options vary not only in type -- rooms, apartments, separate dwellings and such -- but also in circumstance and cost. While some older adults may have well-planned and well-funded retirement incomes that allow them to live independently or age in place, others may need to rely on subsidized housing arrangements for low income seniors, such as senior housing complexes subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

However, waiting lists for subsidized housing can be long and requests to occupy such housing can take years.

While new opportunities are becoming available to seniors wishing to live independently -- such as reverse mortgages and other financial options -- seniors are advised to seek financial and housing counseling before making important decisions due to the fact senior housing scams also are on the rise.

Assisted living settings are designed for seniors 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 an apartment 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 health care 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 designed to 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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