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Trends in aging: Local senior housing options

By By Wendy McHaney
May 24, 2013 at 12:24 a.m.


Part 1: Decision to relocate and synopsis of area options

As my mother enters her 70s, she is finding that her friends are starting to divide into two housing camps:

One set wants to shed the responsibilities of owning and maintaining a home, often much larger than they now need to enjoy the amenities and social opportunities provided at senior living facilities.

The other set, such as herself, are adamant about living out their golden years in the home and neighborhood they've spent the last several decades, even if it means making modifications to their homes and hiring outside help as their physical and/or mental capabilities begin to decline.

Fortunately, seniors today have a lot more options for living out their golden years than were available when their parents reached this age a generation ago, the buzz phrase being "aging with choice."

While moving to a new residence can be disruptive and stressful, it can also be rewarding, satisfying and empowering. According to Contemporary Gerontology, seniors move for at least four different reasons:

Amenity moves: a new location that better fits their changing recreational or leisure lifestyle preferences(such as moving to an active adult retirement community or a cottage in a fishing village).

Environmental modification moves: moving into a home that is smaller and easier to maintain or to a more convenient, safer and socially compatible neighborhood(such as moving into an active adult community).

Light assistance moves: moving into a residential setting that offers light housekeeping, meals and some personal assistance.

Heavy assistance: moving into a residential setting that offers a lot of personal assistance and often nursing or skilled care.

The Crossroads region are host to a variety of senior living facilities including independent living, assisted living and specialized care facilities(such as dementia and hospice care).

Government subsidized housing options are available locally as well.

For those who wish to "age in place" like my mother, our region also offers a variety of services to assist with remaining in one's home.

One type of housing option that is not offered locally, however, is a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Such communities offer a full continuum of housing and services within the same community. For example, seniors can initially move into an apartment in the independent living facility when they are relatively active and in good health, then move into an assisted living apartment as they become unable to perform activities of daily living, then move into the skilled nursing section if needed.

My grandmother lived in such a facility in Philadelphia throughout the last decade of her life, and she ultimately resided in each of these sections of the facility as her health declined.

I can remember visiting her in her two-bedroom apartment with all of her antiques, then helping her move to her smaller assisted living apartment without a full kitchen as she could no longer prepare meals for herself. Lastly, when her arthritis took its toll and she became bedridden, she had to move into skilled care.

Although we do not have such a facility in the Crossroads region, there are several of them in Texas, the closest being in Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

My next several columns will provide more in-depth information regarding all of the residential and home-based options available in the Crossroads region.

Wendy McHaney is a certified senior adviser and the owner and director of operations of Senior Helpers. For more information about Senior Helpers visit seniorhelpers.com/victoria.

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