Senior living options explained | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Senior living options explained


Every day 10,000 people in America turn 65.  We are living longer than we have lived in the history of mankind.

Studies show that social interaction is the number one predictor of aging successfully. Nutrition and exercise follow close behind.

So what do we tell our parents who can no longer live and thrive safely at home to do? Today’s landscape for senior living looks much different than that of 20 years ago when the idea of senior living meant a stale nursing home.

Sometimes, when aging at home is not the best answer, we turn to senior living options such as independent living, assisted living and memory care communities.

Here’s a round-up of exactly what that means.

Independent living

Independent living communities come in all shapes and sizes, from detached townhomes to smaller apartment-style living. Also known as active lifestyle communities, retirement communities and senior living communities, these communities are ideal for independent and active seniors who do not require assistance with the activities of daily living but who do not want to have to think about home maintenance and upkeep, chores and running errands.

Many independent living communities offer a socially active lifestyle that is ideal for those who want to spend their time enjoying daily life with their cohorts in a positive, engaging and independent environment. Many of these communities are also part of a campus with assisted living options. This promotes aging in place and can be a great source of comfort for those who do not want to have to move again should the need for additional care arise.

Assisted living

When someone cannot safely live independently and requires assistance with certain activities of daily living, such as housework, bathing, laundry, dressing or cooking, assisted living may be the right choice for them.

Assisted living communities offer access to care and assistance 24 hours a day while at the same time promoting independence. With activities of daily living covered, one is able to enjoy all the amenities, activities and services available – from cooking demonstrations and book clubs to Wii bowling, lectures, art, yoga and happy hour.

Nutritious meals are provided, as are transportation, wellness programs and any recreational activity you can think of. Access to health and medical services, such as physical therapy and hospice are also readily available.

Memory care

Memory care living options provide a safe and secure environment for our loved ones affected by Alzheimer’s or other various forms of dementia that can impair memory and cognitive abilities.  Many assisted living communities have a secure wing, specifically for memory impairment, that provide different levels of supervision and security.

The caregivers in memory care are specially trained in dementia care and they understand the unique challenges and worries not only of the resident but of the family as a whole. Many memory care living options also offer programs designed to slow progression or alleviate symptoms of agitation and aggression associated with dementia.

Today’s options range from large senior communities reminiscent of cruise ships on land, to small, intimate community residential facilities where everyone knows everyone and resident-to-caregiver ratios are small. With baby boomers moving rapidly into their 70s, senior living has really been reimagined.

Gone are the days of dingy nursing homes being our only options for care when one cannot or will not age safely and happily at home. Today, we have choices.

Lauren O’Desky is a Certified Senior Advisor and owner of Oasis Senior Advisors of North Milwaukee.  Oasis Senior Advisors is a free service for families and seniors to assist them in finding senior living and care options. O’Desky, her husband Ryan, and their three children are active in the Milwaukee Jewish Community, serving on various boards and committees.