Aging.com recently declared senior living to be “the first priority every senior should have.” This advice isn't just relevant to seniors, though. It's also applicable to the adult children who love them. Indeed, personal care should be something you’re thinking about for your parents, likely sooner than you might realize. Here’s what you need to know about getting your aging loved one on a waitlist for senior care.
Proactive is Best
Aging is a complex and personal process. Unfortunately, because some aspects of aging are uncomfortable to think about, many people end up putting important things off until it’s too late. This is very much the case with personal care.
However, delaying making a decision about your aging loved one’s living arrangements as he/she ages can have long-term consequences for everything from social isolation to fall-related injuries. Factor in the skyrocketing senior population and a projected scarcity of housing for them, and the equation is simple: Wait too long, and you risk ending up with a shortage of options if a move to personal care community becomes necessary.
"I should have followed my son and daughter’s advice and moved more quickly,” 89-year-old William Senior told Kiplinger of the struggles he encountered while trying to find personal care for himself and his wife following sudden and unanticipated incapacitation. Had the Seniors been on a waitlist for personal care, they would have been spared housing-related anxieties during an already stressful time.
An Empowering Experience
Adult children of aging seniors who adopt a proactive stance toward personal care not only ensure that their aging loved ones will have a place to live when the time comes, but also that they’ll have the opportunity to be involved in the decision. Not all personal care communities are created equal, and both care services and amenities vary significantly from community to community. By starting early — and by involving your aging loved one in the decision-making process — you can make sure that their wants, needs, and goals are met. This can also help ease the transition for seniors who may have concerns about losing their independence.
Furthermore, many personal care communities afford benefits to people on the waitlist, such as letting them use certain amenities with “member” privileges and access to events. For seniors who are on the fence about personal care, these connections can become selling points, delivering first-hand opportunities to experience the benefits of personal care living for themselves.
Some personal care communities even offer seniors on the waitlist the option to reserve their favorite accommodations. This means that if your parent would enjoy a room with a particular view, for example, being on the waitlist will allow him/her to claim it if it becomes available. Seniors who are offered accommodations but aren’t ready to move at that time maintain their place on the waitlist.
Get to Know Your Options for a Secure Future
When you are beginning the conversation about your loved one’s personal care early enough, before care is necessary, you’re afforded the time to get to know all your options. One thing to keep in mind when choosing between personal care communities is what will happen if your aging loved one has a change of circumstance? Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) like Louisville, Kentucky's Episcopal Church Home (ECH) are designed to address the needs of seniors over the full course of their golden years. The result? Ideal environments for "aging in place."
ECH takes this concept one step further by assuring residents that if they require a different level of care or outlive their retirement savings, they'll still have a home in the community. This adds up to a secure future for older adults and valuable peace of mind for their loved ones.
“Between 2010 and 2040, the nation’s 65-plus population will grow by roughly 90 percent. In some areas of the country, most of the population growth will come from retirees,” Hamilton Lombard, a demographics researcher for the University of Virginia, told Curbed. “In general, I always like to come back to the planning and preparedness piece. There’s a lack of awareness and preparation for the dynamics of senior living,” adds Sue Johansen, vice president for assisted living referral service A Place for Mom.
The takeaway for adult children of aging loved ones? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by starting your search for an optimal personal care community now and securing your parent’s spot by signing up for the waitlist when you find it.