As people age, there is a whole spectrum of living options, beginning with remaining in a family home and moving all the way to living in an assisted living facility. It’s critical to understand just where you — or, if you’re a caregiver, your aging parent — belong on the spectrum.
Age can be a factor in determining your place on this spectrum. “We find a progression, starting in the 50s and 60s, where people are concerned with wellness and prevention,” says Mark Sabalauskas, Product Manager at Philips Lifeline. “This is also a time of planning.”
As people reach beyond their middle years, they may begin to think about trading the two-story family home for a one-story condo somewhere warm. This is also a time of planning financially for latter years.
“Financial planning can take any number of forms,” says Paul Adams, Senior Director of Product Management for Philips Lifeline. “Sometimes it means downsizing and using the equity in your family home to provide a cushion for days to come. For some people it means investing in long-term care insurance, which, in a way, is making a choice about how they’re going to live in later years.”
As people age into their 70s, the progression of chronic conditions may make the tasks of daily living a little more difficult. “Adult children who used to call and check on their parents once or twice a week may now be checking several time a day, to be sure the senior is safe — this is a time people begin to move in the direction of fall risk,” says Sabalauskas. He notes that a 65-year-old has a one-in-three chance of taking a fall, with that figure increasing to one in two by age 80. “And a fall after 80 can be catastrophic.”
At this point, an elder may decide to move to a 55+ plus community, where some services are available and assistance can be increased over time. Or the senior may choose to move in with a child or sibling.
“Obviously, this is a time when people begin to look into additional means of support, like the monitoring systems from Philips,” Adams says.
The 80s and Beyond
As people continue to age and the risk of falling increases, so do the responsibilities of caregivers. Now caregivers are often dedicating several hours a week to caring for their senior relative, and family members begin to feel the strain on family life and finances. That’s when people often seek community resources and opt for aid like medicine-dispensing systems from Philips, notes Adams.
“We have very powerful tools to help people continue activities of daily life and avoid anything catastrophic from happening,” he says. “That means we’re helping people stay in their homes as long as possible.”
Time for Assisted Living? Maybe, or Maybe Not
The time may eventually come when a senior will opt for an assisted living situation. If they are already living in a retirement community that may just mean bringing in more services to assist with daily living. But if an elder with serious medical conditions had been living alone or with relatives who can no longer deliver an adequate level of care, it may mean making a move to an assisted living facility. But both Sabalauskas and Adams point out that this is happening less and less often as Baby Boomers reach their senior years.
“Baby Boomers are much less willing to move to an assisted living facility than their parents or grandparents were,” says Sabalauskas. “They’re opting for staying in their homes, developing plans for aging in place, and making increased use of products and services like ours and offerings in the community. We’re seeing a real trend in that direction.”