By Alyssa Gerace
Making a move into senior housing is not a decision that’s made lightly, but it is often a decision that’s made by multiple people, including adult children.
Those children of prospective residents are involved in their parents’ transition into a new setting 73% of the time, according to one study from Care.com, but complementary data suggests seniors themselves are still very much a part of the decision.
Although seniors and their families have many of the same values when it comes to picking the right residence, the two parties tend to have different perspectives and considerations, especially depending on the level of care that’s needed, says Jody Gastfriend, vice president of care management at Care.com, an online resource that connects families with care providers.
Senior consumers still involved in living arrangement choices
During the annual Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) conference in May, a session panel featured seniors and adult children who weighed in on what they valued in a senior living community. Many emphasized the need to appeal to both audiences.
One woman spoke of searching for the right community for her mother. The executive director essentially ignored the actual customer—her mother—and only tried to sell the community to her, the adult child, she said, and it turned them both off.
“If Mom isn’t happy, nobody is happy,” says Margaret Wylde, president and founder of market research firm Promatura Group.Many times, executive directors are not taking care of the true customer [the future resident].”
There hasn’t been much change in the past 10 years in the number of senior living residents who said they made the decision to move in, versus an adult child making it for them, Wylde says.
In a 2001 study of current independent living residents conducted by Promatura Group, 28% of respondents said they, along with their spouse, had made the decision to enter a community independent of their adult child(ren).
In 2012, the same question in a new study of current independent living residents was posed. Nothing had changed: an identical 28% reported making the decision without adult child involvement.
Daughters still wield the most influence
Daughters of senior living residents remain the most influential of adult children compared to sons, whose participation dropped off more than 5% in the past 10 years, according to Wylde.
Like the independent living study, a recent survey of 500 Care.com users revealed that seniors are overwhelmingly involved in decision-making, and had a say in the search for a care provider about 70% of the time. In contrast, only about 10% of seniors said they alone made all the arrangements.
Nearly three-quarters of the senior care seekers were the adult children, which Care.com defines as daughters, sons, nieces/nephews, mothers/fathers-in-law.
“Most of the time, our care advisors speak with the adult child,” confirms Scott Healy, executive vice president of marketing and general manager at Care.com.
Out of those adult children, it was the adult daughter 71% of the time, a number that didn’t surprise Brookdale Senior Living, the largest national provider of senior-related services.
“We have not seen a significant change in [the amount of daughters or daughters-in-law involved in the transition-to-senior care process],” says Jim Pusateri, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Brookdale Senior Living, adding that daughters have usually been the initial inquirer among adult children caregivers.
Reasons for delaying the transition
Often, adult children encounter stronger resistance from their parents regarding a move into independent living, which can be viewed as an unwelcome downsizing rather than a health-related necessity.
“There may be more obstacles around that, whereas the perception of assisted living is, ‘Ok, I need more care now,’” says Gastfriend. “There may be more of a sense of urgency, and the impetus is somewhat different.”
There is often more emotion involved in the assisted living interaction because the family may be in crisis, Pusateri agrees.
“In an assisted living setting, there is more urgency because Mom or Dad can’t go back home, which can be difficult for families that are not only trying to make a good decision, but learning about this lifestyle and how its services are able to meet their family member’s needs,” he says.
Fear of infringing on their parents’ sense of control is a primary reason some adult children delay the process of finding a senior living community, says Wylde.
Others are simply overwhelmed and stall the process because the crisis may have lost some of its urgency for the moment, Pusateri adds.
Another reason adult children put off a senior living purchase for their mom or dad is fear or denial on the part of the parent(s) that they need to move, as well as the cost.
“Mostly, adult children are slow [to make the decision] because it’s not a fun decision to make,” Wylde says. “You don’t want to make a parent do something you know they don’t want to do. But if we can change the marketing angle—and it has to be a huge shift in the way we present what it is we provide—if we can do that, then my contention is that the adult themselves would look at the move as an opportunity.”
— Printed with permission from the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), www.alfa.org.
By Phyl Newbeck
Caring for an aging relative isn’t easy. Doing so can be an emotional burden, as well as a financial one. Will you feel an overwhelming sense of guilt if you move your mother into assisted living…and is that worse than the resentment you might feel if you move her into your home? Thankfully, Vermont has a number of resources to help caregivers deal with the emotional rollercoaster, but the key, according to experts, is to start planning early.
Liz Vogel is President and CEO of DOTS, an organization developed to provide information for those caring for aging parents or loved ones. “One of my soap boxes,” she said “is Americans don’t talk about aging so we are unprepared. At a certain point in the continuum, you find yourself in a role reversal with your parents and nobody teaches us how to deal with that.”
Vogel notes that there are seven common emotions felt by caregivers: guilt, resentment, anger, worry, loneliness, grief and defensiveness. She believes that with guidance, one can overcome these feelings and learn to deal with the reversed caretaking role.
Vogel said guidance can come from a variety of sources — from family and friends to houses of worship and local groups like the Vermont AARP affiliate. Vogel’s organization, DOTS, has a resource library divided into seven topics ranging from health and wellness to safety and legal issues. “Unless you’re involved in a caretaker situation, you have no idea what is involved,” she said. “People need a road map and they need emotional support.”
Sharing the Care
In 2003, Patrice Thabault opened the South Burlington office of Home Instead Senior Care (HISC) which provides in-home care for seniors. The program’s 180 caregivers offer non-medical services for roughly 150 clients in five counties. HISC sponsors a program called 50-50, for siblings who are caring for aging parents. Studies have shown that the burden is rarely borne equitably between siblings. Usually a daughter, often the youngest in the family, is the one who bears the heaviest load.
The name 50-50 refers to an equitable distribution of labor, but 50 is also the average age at which the parent/child role undergoes a transformation with the child becoming the caregiver to the parent. The family conversation should start earlier than that, ideally when the child turns 40 or when the parent turns 70. HISC offers one-on-one consultations with families and provides written information to help siblings divide the labor as equally as possible. Obviously, finances, employment issues, family situations and geography can conspire to make some siblings more involved than others, but the goal is to share the work and prevent resentment among brothers and sisters.
Some families share the work via formal arrangements with spreadsheets or dry erase boards in the parental home, while others work out more informal agreements. Often siblings will find an area of expertise such as cooking, cleaning, or driving and make that their niche in parental care. Ideally, decisions are made via consensus so no sibling feels they are pulling more than their fair share of the weight. “One of the things we really encourage,” said Thabault “is for seniors and their children to start the conversation early regarding where they would like to live. That’s far better than waiting until there is a crisis or the parent’s health has declined to the point where they can’t take part so the caregiver has to make a decision without knowing the parent’s wishes.”
HISC has created a checklist for caregivers to assess what they call “caregiver burnout.” Signs of burnout include anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability, lack of concentration, substance abuse, phobias, argumentative behavior and feelings of isolation. Repressing these feelings can have detrimental effects on the caregiver’s physical and mental health and Thabault stressed that it is important to have discussions about all aspects of caregiving, both within the family and with outside professionals to prevent burnout.
Cathy Michaels of Armistead Caregiver Services agrees. From its office in South Burlington, Armistead serves more than 100 clients with a staff of 140 caregivers. “You struggle with when to step in,” said Michaels. “No matter what action you’ve taken, you’re never sure it’s the right one. A lot of people come to us in crisis so we try to educate people to start thinking about these types of things earlier.”
Michaels said people who call Armistead are going through a full range of emotions. Sometimes those caring for an aging relative on their own begin to feel resentment, but when they bring in an outside person it can result in feelings of guilt. This is especially true when children move an aging parent into their own home. “They do it with great intentions,” Michaels said “but sometimes they haven’t had the time to think it through.” She suggests bringing in an outside caregiver slowly so they will eventually build a relationship with the parent.
“It’s human nature to feel guilt and worry that you’re making the right decision,” said Michaels, noting that this is another reason to have the discussion before it becomes an emergent issue. The goal is to insure that the parent is aware of your caregiving plans and is prepared for the changes in his/her life. “Parents don’t want to be a burden,” said Michaels. “They raised us and then we raised our children, but we also have to take care of our elders. It’s okay to ask for help with that.”
By Luke Baynes
The Vermont Respite House may be staffed by a team of highly qualified nurses, but the ambience inside its Williston walls is about as far from the sterile atmosphere and antiseptic smell of a hospital environment as possible.
The first thing a first-time visitor to the Respite House might notice is how bright it is inside. Large uncurtained windows allow abundant natural light to fill a central dining area, where the baking aromas from the adjacent kitchen pass through to the building’s wings, which contain 13 private rooms.
“It was founded by a beautiful community effort to create an as close to being at home environment for individuals who can no longer, for one reason or another, be at home,” said Vermont Respite House Administrator Sharon Keegan.
Founded in 1991, the Respite House is a hospice facility for terminally ill people with a prognosis of six months or less to live. It came under the umbrella of the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties in 1997.
Keegan explained that the Respite House’s mission aligns with the traditional principles of hospice care.
“The original hospice philosophy is to live fully, until you die, with dignity and respect,” Keegan said. “A lot of people fear, culturally, the idea of death, and this normalizes it. It gives it a sense that you can have confidence and be well-cared for and that your symptoms can be relieved and you can be supported psychologically and spiritually to move through that.”
She added that by having hospice caregivers attend to the physical needs of a patient, it allows family members to be fully engaged on an emotional level with their loved one.
“Family can just be family,” she said.
Keegan also pointed out that the hospice concept is a way for a surviving spouse to get acquainted with the imminent reality of living alone.
“It’s a way of testing out the waters of being alone, because they can go home and know their person is completely safe, but then come back, and it starts the process of feeling out the truth of loss before it’s actually there,” she said.
Keegan has served as the administrator of the Vermont Respite House for the past 10 years. Despite the constant presence of death and grieving in her life over that decade, she remains indefatigably positive toward a line of work she considers to be life-affirming.
“I’d say people who are drawn to this work have a particular perspective of feeling that this is such a deep privilege and honor to attend to people at the end of their life,” Keegan said. “Being able to provide the best possible end of life scenario is a gift. It’s intense, but it’s deeply meaningful.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
To volunteer: Call Susan Abell at (802) 879-0943.
To make a donation: Visit http://www.vnacares.org/donate
For general questions: Call Sharon Keegan at (802) 879-0943.
Each Saturday from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. a group of local volunteers visits the Vermont Respite House and sings at the bedsides of patients who wish to hear comforting four-part harmonies.
The 45-member group, which calls itself the Noyana Singers, typically sends an eight-person choir, which tailors its musical selections to a patient’s personal preferences.
With a repertoire that features both spiritual and secular music, the group’s goal, according to its tab on the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties website is to create music that “sets a restful meditative mood that can help ease the passage between life and death.”
Williston resident Marcy Kass, a five-year veteran of the Noyana Singers, explained why she finds the volunteer work rewarding.
“When we sing to people, they get to turn off the front part of their brains and just float emotionally. Sometimes people start crying when we start singing,” Kass said. “I believe that our mortality is the ‘elephant in the room’ in our daily lives, especially as we mature. To go forth into that territory and not run from it is soothing, somehow.”
By Susan Green
Imagine your cognitive abilities are fading and what’s happening in your brain also restricts your eyesight, including the ability to differentiate some objects. Mashed potatoes on a white plate on a white tablecloth might not even register as food, no matter how hungry you feel.
This is the scenario that Rebecca Stearns describes when talking about what can happen to people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. “They often lose peripheral vision and depth perception,” she explains, “So, color and contrast become very important.”
Her mission as a vice-president and director of development of Grand Senior Living, a Charlotte-based company, is to create environments that help compensate for what the degenerative condition takes away.
“Normally, we require only 40-to-45 candlepower (also known as candela) lighting to see well indoors,” Stearns notes. “Those with Alzheimer’s need double that, 85-to-90 candlepower. And we use bright, contrasting colors everywhere instead of pastels.”
By “everywhere,” she means inside the innovative assisted living facilities for seniors, referred to as “communities,” that her firm develop, advise and/or manage.
In partnership with Mackenzie Architects in Burlington for the last two years, Stearns and her colleagues launched the Grand Memory Care Project, intended to generate alternatives to the traditional assisted living situations and skilled nursing homes where people with Alzheimer’s frequently must live.
Nursing homes often have staffs trained in medical procedures, but they may not be particularly adept at coping with dementia patients. Assisted living facilities tend to lack enough security for people who might wander away.
“For many seniors with dementia, the needs are less clinical and more social,” explains Janet Stambolian, director of business development at Mackenzie Architects. “We’re offering another path that delivers the necessary services in a secure setting. Grand Memory Care broadens the pool of viable options.”
The partners are awaiting word on federal funding to support a process in New England that would demonstrate the efficacy of their plans. Their goal is to design and build five “person-centered memory care neighborhoods in a secure setting” that would house 12-to-18 residents in separate apartments, a conversion inside an existing structure with underutilized space.
The premise is that their innovations can keep costs considerably lower and provide compassionate support in a more appealing environment. “This is not just about how pretty a place looks,” Stearns says. ”It’s so residents can be as independent as possible. We can’t help them find their memories, but we can teach our staff to help them be more successful on a daily basis.”
Vermont is considered the second “grayest” state in the nation; by 2020, an estimated 20 percent of the population will be 65 or older. And Baby Boomers are on the cusp of this healthcare-crisis horizon. “They call it ‘the silver tsunami,’” Stearns says.
Experts believe that 11,000 Vermonters older than 60 — or 9 percent of the population — will eventually experience dementia. Of 6,789 nursing home residents here, 47 percent suffer moderate to severe impairment due to dementia.
Grand Memory Living — co-founded by CEO Dan Hassan and under the umbrella of his HMS Windward business — tries to address the daunting issue of sheltering seniors with this condition. The company already handles various tasks for Grand Memory Care communities in a handful of states, though not yet Vermont, and looks forward to starting others from scratch in an ownership capacity.
In the management-only category, “there’s one opening in Virginia on May 21 that we’ve been working on with the developer,” Stearns says. “And we just broke ground in Woburn, Massachusetts.”
Asked how Grand Memory Care dwellings will differ from other programs in the region, Stearns points out that the idea is to “know who this person was before the disease struck, hire a a highly-trained staff and provide habilitation therapy (not rehabilitation, which currently is not possible with the disease). We can’t change the outcome of Alzheimer’s yet, but there’s a lot that can be done to make their lives better.”
Noise reduction, to protect people who are easily startled, is another example of small things that make a difference. ”We stay one step ahead to avoid the triggers that might bring on agitation,” Stearns says.
Grand Memory Care communities do not adhere to what Stambolian calls “the medical model,” which tends to be much more expensive.
For instance, instead of sending an agitated resident to the hospital emergency room in an ambulance, “we hope to already have information about people from their families so we understand why they may be acting that way,” Stearns says.
“By knowing who they are, things can be done in advance to prevent extreme measures,” adds Stambolian, who works with architect Stephen Mackenzie at their Battery Street offices. “This is a way more holistic approach,” she suggests.
Stambolian displays the blueprint of a prototype 13,050-square-foot assisted living community with a sort of elongated oval, open shape that allows the staff to more easily see what’s going on throughout the complex. This specific scheme is more likely applicable to future Grand Memory Care efforts undertaken with Stearns and Hassan to fashion new free-standing structures they would develop from the get-go. Or the design could be sold to other healthcare entities.
Meanwhile, they’re all anxious to hear whether or not their 70-page application for a $11.4 million, three-year grant — part of a $1 billion federal healthcare initiative — has been approved.
If so, Grand Memory Care will employ a retrofitting approach to offer “a better way to make assisted living more affordable” for Medicaid recipients at five test sites in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The money would not be spent on bricks and mortar. Instead, they’ll seek underutilized spaces at existing nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
“We’d take over a wing and design it to our specifications,” Stearns explains. “We’ll bring in our own teams.”
Moreover, the savings might be substantial. The cost for Grand Memory Care, according to Stearns and Stambolian, would average $125 a day per resident versus about $196 a day in the region at the moment.
And the whole country, if not the whole world, will be watching. Nationwide, the number of Medicaid recipients with dementia in skilled nursing homes was 418,945 as of 2011. If just 10 percent of them are transferred to an assisted memory care program, Stearns and Stambolian contend, the annual savings for Medicaid could be more than one billion dollars.
While there’ll be no mashed potatoes on white plates on white table cloths, Grand Memory Care seniors can benefit from recreational and cultural activities geared to feed the soul even as the mind fades.
“Meals would focus on a heart- and brain-healthy diet,” Stambolian says. “Residents will be able to participate in music, art and even gardening. We emphasize what they can do rather than what they can’t do.”
Among other things, what they can do is not disappear in the hustle-bustle of contemporary life.“Other societies take care of their elders,” Stearns acknowledges, stressing that there’s a lot more at stake than saving money. “It’s important to bring seniors back to the center of our communities, respecting and honoring them.”
By Luke Baynes
Americans of all ages value their ability to live independently. Today, people can live on their own for many years — even as they grow older and start needing help with everyday tasks. This is called “aging in place.”
Creating a plan, and making adjustments along the way, can prevent unexpected events from turning into crises that compromise one’s ability to live independently. Being aware of health management options, creating a financial blueprint, and making accommodations to living spaces can all make a big difference in someone’s ability to live in the place they choose as they age.
Among the many uncertainties in life, there are two incontrovertible certainties: we will get older; and we will die.
As a cancer survivor who works frequently with the elderly, Scott Funk is acutely aware of these facts of life.
“Retirement is a journey that we take. We don’t know how far we’re going to go or how long it takes, but we know we’re not coming back alive,” said Funk. “Our society sees death as a failing, but it’s really how the game is planned.”
Funk, also known as “The Reverse Mortgage Guy” for his work with home equity conversions, writes a monthly newsletter advocating the concept of “aging in place,” a holistic life strategy designed to help seniors avoid leaving their homes if that is their desire.
“Aging in place means aging in the place you want to age,” Funk explained. “So aging in place isn’t so much about not going into a home; it’s about controlling the environment so you can age independently for as long as possible. And for some people, aging in place means moving to a more age-appropriate house.”
Funk said the aging in place movement has been a product of the fact that the baby boomers are no longer babies.
“Boomers don’t want to do what they did to their parents. We put mom and dad in a home and thought that was a good idea,” said Funk. “None of us volunteer to leave our homes; when we leave, we usually leave abruptly.”
Sarah Lemnah, communications and development director with the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging, said one of the roles of the CVAA is to help prevent seniors from having to suddenly and involuntarily leave their homes.
“All of our services are geared to help seniors stay in their homes,” Lemnah said. “It’s making sure they’re aging in the location they wish to, and the majority of the people are trying not to go into a nursing home facility.”
Lemnah added that the earlier a person accepts the fact that they’re getting older, the greater the likelihood is that they’ll be able to stay in their homes.
“We like it when people call early in the process when they’re still healthy and active,” she said. “But a lot of time people call when they’re in a crisis, so then we help them get the support and services they need.”
In many cases, home modifications – such as wider doorways or wheelchair accessible bathrooms – need to be made before one can age in place.
Tom Moore, owner of the Underhill Center-based Tom Moore Builder Inc., said his company does many renovation projects to make houses aging-in-place-friendly, and for new homes, he recommends an architectural philosophy called “universal design,” which makes homes accessible for people with disabilities while still maintaining a unified aesthetic.
“(Universal design) is becoming more and more popular because the cost of living at an assisted living home is more and more expensive,” Moore said.
Moore said he used universal design when building his own house, which won the 2011 “Most Innovative Design Build” and the “Energy Efficiency Award” from the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Northern Vermont.
“It’s a house to perform for a lifetime,” said Moore. “How many people have friends who are impaired and they can’t even invite them over because their bathroom isn’t designed for that?”
Yet even with a senior-friendly house, there comes a time for many seniors when living alone in one’s home is no longer feasible.
That’s where companies like Home Instead Senior Care come in.
“Our caregivers provide various non-medical services for seniors in their homes, to really allow them to remain independent, and more importantly, safe in their home,” said Patrice Thabault, owner of the South-Burlington based branch of the Home Instead franchise.
Thabault has over 150 caregivers working for her across five Vermont counties, providing services such as running errands, escorting seniors to doctor’s appointments, keeping house and cooking meals.
Paying for those services is another story.
“Unfortunately, your health insurance will pay for a medical need in the home, but it won’t pay for other important things that you need in order to stay in your home,” Thabault said. “A long-term care policy will pay for things non-medical in the home, but your Medicare isn’t necessarily paying for care in the home.”
Ironically, less affluent Vermonters who qualify for Medicaid can receive benefits for in-home care.
“The Medicaid waiver program – the Choices for Care program – enables care providers to go into people’s homes if they qualify to be in a nursing home,” Lemnah said. “So they have a choice if they want to go into a nursing home or stay at home and get home health services. So Vermont was at the forefront of that a few years back.”
But for some seniors – particularly widows or widowers whose spouse handled the finances in the marriage – day-to-day money management is a more pressing concern than insurance.
“There are a number of seniors who if they didn’t have someone helping them with their day-to-day personal finances, they wouldn’t be able to remain in their own home,” said Robyn Young, owner of the Williston-based Money Care LLC.
A professional daily money manager, Young assists seniors with the money basics necessary to age in place – from paying utility bills to having enough cash on hand for the weekly groceries.
“One of the big things I do is I help people keep track of their cash flow and manage that and their bill- paying in relation to that,” Young said.
Funk summed up the myriad components of aging in place by stressing that one needs to be proactive in planning for the future, and be accepting of the fact that aging is a part of life.
“The trick to aging in place is being ahead of the curve,” Funk said. “We’re all aging in place. All of us are doing it all the time. All of us need to be making adjustments all the time.”
Burlington’s Downtown at Home Organization
By Phyl Newbeck
While most concentrated settlements of senior citizens are created by design, others simply occur based on the preferred living patterns of folks who have found a common area in which to settle. These informal settings are known as NORCs: Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities.
NORCs are places where residents have either aged in place, having lived in their homes over several decades, or have seen an influx of seniors to the same housing complex or neighborhood. In each case, a group of residents makes a conscious decision to organize in order to pool resources and ideas. In New York State, there is funding available for NORCs where more than half the residents are 50 or older, but no such mechanism exists in Vermont.
The only official NORC in the Green Mountain State is an organization called Downtown at Home (D@H), consisting of residents of 40 College Street in Burlington. D@H began in 2008 when residents who were also members of a book club began a discussion on how they could remain in their homes as they grew older. The D@H mission statement is “to provide members practical support and information to enable them to remain in their homes as they grow older or are housebound. It is envisioned that friendships and an internal volunteer network will develop and grow into a vibrant community.” Unfortunately, the group’s activities are limited enough that the Vermont chapter of AARP considers them defunct and a national directory which lists 40 NORCs in 25 states does not include them.
“Defunct” isn’t an accurate description, but the group is somewhat limited. D@H is officially incorporated and is overseen by a group of volunteers with a cost of $100 a year to join. The organization’s main purpose is to provide members with information and assistance which will allow them to “age in place.” This is done by developing relationships with service providers, creating closer ties among neighbors, and researching ways to help seniors stay in their homes. The group based their fledgling organization on Beacon Hill Village, a non-profit organization in Boston.
D@H has a collection of canes, walkers, a wheelchair, and other pieces of medical equipment which are available for short-term loans to members. At the other end of the spectrum, they keep children’s furniture and car seats for those who might be entertaining younger visitors. In addition to preparing a database of medical practitioners, the group has a listing of house cleaners, plumbers, electricians, painters, and others who can assist with home maintenance.
Although the original plan was to expand D@H to incorporate more buildings, Roger Cole, one of the founders, said this has not taken place. In addition to the collected medical equipment which Cole said has been useful for members, the organization has sponsored trips and slide shows, but he is disappointed the group has chosen not to expand beyond 40 College Street. While Cole recognizes that D@H’s inspiration, Beacon Hill Village, has a larger demographic to work with, he pointed out that the Village to Village Network, — an organization developed to facilitate communication between similar aging in place groups — includes NORCs spread out across the United States, not just in major metropolitan areas. “Burlington is the largest city in Vermont,” he said, “and it should have a viable aging in place organization.”
Those interested in exploring the NORC concept for their own communities can access more information at http://www.norcs.org/
Other Sources for more information:
Access Mobility LLC
The Medical Store
South Burlington 864-0908
Agencies on Aging
Essex Junction 865-0360
Aaron J. Goldberg, PLC
Jarrett Law Office
So. Burlington 864-5951
Eldercare Referral Services
Vermont Worry-Free Eldercare
South Burlington 399-2721
Central Vermont 50+ EXPO
Saturday, June 9 – Killington
Vermont 50 Plus & Baby Boomers EXPO
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2013 – Burlington
The Busy Chef
Home Care Services
Armistead Caregiver Services
Bayada Home Health Care
South Burlington/Winooski 655-7111
Home Instead Senior Care
South Burlington 860-4663
Silver Leaf In-Home Care
Essex Jct. 355-3790
Vermont Assembly of Home Health & Hospice Agencies
VNA of Chittenden & Grand Isle Counties
Enosburg Falls 933-2315
South Burlington 419-6421
The Gary Home
South Burlington 863-5625
Fort Myers, FL (239) 481-1343
South Burlington 863-2224
Essex Jct. 1-800-272-4205
South Burlington 863-7897
Pinecrest at Essex
Essex Jct. 872-9197
Taft Farm Senior Living
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation
Trans-Care Ambulance Service
Essex Jct. 288-1286
Vermont Maturity – Senior Resource Directory
By Phyl Newbeck
Whether it’s the house you’ve raised your children in or a new place, better designed for senior living, more and more people are starting to make plans for a “forever home” in which they can reside in sickness and in health. Below are some tips for deciding how to choose where you can gracefully age in place.
Stay close to family and friends
We all value our independence but when push comes to shove, it’s always reassuring to know that people we can trust are close at hand. Many of us are lucky enough to have neighbors we count as our friends, but if that isn’t the case, you might want to consider a location that’s close to those you know you can count on.
Make sure you are able to accomplish your Activities of Daily Living
It’s important to assess your home in terms of your ability to take care of yourself. Homes with stairs may be difficult for those with mobility impairments and often alterations must be made to bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens to ensure that seniors are able to move about adequately, take care of personal grooming and prepare meals. AARP recommends seniors have an occupational therapist perform a home assessment to ensure they can continue to do the things they enjoy, as well as the functions they need to perform for daily living.
Do a cost/benefit of staying vs. moving
As with everything in life, it is important to determine the pros and cons of renovating a home or moving to a new one. Seniors should undertake a detailed cost/benefit analysis before making any decision.
If you’re thinking of moving, consult a Senior Real Estate Specialist
Senior Real Estate Specialists (SRES) are Realtors who are qualified to address the needs of home buyers and sellers over the age of 50. The National Association of Realtors lists 21 certified SRES agents in Vermont. See www.realtor.org.
If you plan on staying in your home, consult a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist
The National Association of Home Builders has a program to certify home remodelers as Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS). There are six such specialists in Vermont who are certified to remodel homes for those who plan to live out their lives in that location. CAPS are familiar with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act but will also make light switches and door handles easier to work, improve lighting, and focus on other alterations which might not be immediately apparent to a layperson. See www.nahb.org.
Make sure you can continue to engage in your favorite activities and interests
For active seniors, it’s important to live near the things that make life interesting. Avid skiers shouldn’t move to Florida and regular museum and theater goers should probably stay in or near an urban area. The most comfortable house in the world won’t make you content if you can’t find things that make you happy outside your dwelling.
Familiarize yourself with transportation options
A forever home will feel like a prison if seniors can’t find ways to get around. For those who might have failing vision or impaired mobility, it’s important to make sure there are available alternatives to the single occupancy vehicle. There are bus routes serving Chittenden County, Central Vermont, Rutland and Bennington Counties, and Franklin and Grand Isle counties, as well as options such as the Special Services Transportation Agency (www.sstaride.org) and Elderly and Disabled Rides (www.gmtaride.org).
Make sure you have appropriate medical professionals nearby
If a senior has a significant medical issue, one key to a happy and healthy living situation is having a suitable medical professional close by. Someone who has been treated by a trusted physician for years may not want to relocate far away from that medical practitioner.
Look into the possibility of transitioning from independence to dependence
Just because you’re independent today doesn’t mean that will always be the case. Many assisted living environments allow seniors to move from independent living to a more structured situation. It is important to determine whether that transition is possible in the place you want to call home. This includes the possibility of hiring live-in help for those who choose not to relocate.
Explore the option of senior living communities
“Aging in Place” can also mean living in an independent senior living community. There are many advantages to residing in these developments: they are usually located in central areas, providing easy access to grocery stores, transportation, and a variety of things that impact one’s everyday needs. Apartments at these communities are also physically designed to accommodate aging in place needs such as larger hallways and entryways to accommodate mobility devices. For a list of senior living communities in the area, visit www.vermontmaturity.com and click on Resource Directory to help you start exploring your options.
Find a place that makes you smile
None of this will work out if your old or new home doesn’t have that special something that makes you happy. If you need to be able to step out onto a lawn, don’t look at apartment living. If you have a beloved canine companion, don’t move to a place that doesn’t allow dogs. Above all else, find a home that makes you smile.
Builder confidence in the 55+ housing market for single-family homes rose four points to 18 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) 55+ Housing Market Index (HMI) released in February.
“We are seeing increased optimism from builders in the 55+ housing segment,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev.
The 55+ single-family HMI measures builder sentiment based on current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market. A number greater than 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. All index components increased from a year ago: present sales rose four points to 17, expected sales for the next six months increased two points to 26 and traffic of prospective buyers rose five points to 15.
“As with the overall single-family housing market, we are seeing gradual, but steady, improvement in the 55+ market segment,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “A level of 18 in the 55+ HMI is the highest fourth quarter reading since inception of the index in 2008. As with the overall multifamily rental housing sector, the 55+ rental market is showing continued strength.”