In many other countries, extended families live together until death do you part. Most Americans don’t follow those same traditions, however. Instead, once you move out of the nest, you don’t want the nest to move back. As a result, many seniors have been left to fend for themselves … until the time when they can no longer manage living independently because of:
- Physical limitations
- Memory problems
- Health concerns
At that point, elders must leave the nest as well. Depending on finances and medical issues, their elder care options may be broad or narrow. Your parents may come to you for help as they search for some place that meets their needs.
A Brief History of Elder Care Options
In the 19th century, most elders either had the resources to take care of themselves or they lived with their children. For those without offspring, societies offered senior care in the form of poorhouses where inmates were forced to work for their meager food and lodging. By the turn of the century, better accommodations were offered by charities.
During the 20th century, nursing homes cared for medically challenged seniors without anywhere else to go. Today, elders have more and varied options for living out their years in reasonable comfort. Choices include:
- Retirement villages
- Independent living quarters
- Assisted living facilities
- In-home caregivers
Some places offer transitional living. Seniors can live independently as long as they’re able before moving into an assisted living apartment and then maybe into the full medical care unit of a nursing home. It all depends on their needs and their resources.
Progress Came … Eventually
While baby boomers in the United States are reaching age 65 at a rate of about 10,000 a day, the existing infrastructure has struggled to keep up. Nursing homes are full as people live longer. Retirement communities have become more and more expensive as demand increases.
And some laws changed to reflect the aging population. Many of these developments and regulations paved the way for progress in the way society treats its elderly. The milestones that have changed the face of senior care options include:
- The first portable wheelchair was invented and marketed in 1932.
- In 1935, the Social Security Act passed.
- Great Britain offered free health care for seniors in 1946; the U.S. still doesn’t have that.
- The first electric wheelchair was sold in 1956.
- Medicare and Medicaid began in 1965.
- Hospice care, or being allowed to die naturally, was accepted in 1974.
Today’s Elder Care Options
Because more and more seniors have planned for their later years financially, they have access to a number of elder care options. Medicare and Medicaid have made some options more available as well. When seniors reach the point that the need for help becomes inevitable, they’ll likely choose from among:
- Aging in place. If a home is constructed or refitted for seniors, it has a single story, wide doorways, door latches, bathroom handholds and other amenities. You may bring in certified nursing assistants daily to help.
- Independent living arrangements. When you’re still mobile and self-sufficient, you can move into apartments that are attached to a larger community, where care is available when needed.
- Residential care houses. A group home is where elders share space, meals and activities with qualified health care aides onsite. Silverbell Homestead fits this category.
- Assisted living facilities. If you need help with daily chores and grooming, the staff at an assisted living facility provides it. Care is more supervised and expected.
Nursing homes. When 24-hour medical supervision is required, nursing homes offer the medical equipment and expertise for overseeing your care.