Guest Columns

Housing with supportive services promotes aging-in-place

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Diane Burfeindt
Diane Burfeindt

As average U.S. life expectancy continues to climb, and our retirement dollars are required to work harder and longer, the growing preference to age in the comfort of one's own home is increasingly being seen as a viable alternative to assisted living and even nursing care. Senior housing with supportive services is a new model being offered by senior living communities, linking people with community organizations and services to improve overall health and wellbeing. Enabling seniors to age-in-place for as long as possible has distinctive benefits for both the seniors and their families. These include:

Access to daily living necessities enable seniors to age in place longer

With age, access to daily living necessities can often by hindered by mobility challenges or even financial strains. For seniors without family nearby, assisted living and nursing care have historically been the only viable alternatives, despite the fact that actual medical care needs may not necessitate the move. Some senior housing providers are beginning to help people overcome these obstacles by making available services such as meals, medication, healthcare management, transportation and other services. Easier access to such critical services allows some seniors to remain at home longer, instead of moving to assisted living before they're ready. In some communities, the model is also being applied to affordable housing, offering essential services for seniors with financial need.

Supportive services can ease the strains on family caregivers

As parents age, their children often step into the role of family caregiver. With decreased mobility and other challenges that come with aging, family caregivers find themselves helping with day-to-day tasks like meal preparation, providing transportation to doctor's appointments, picking up medications and making sure medications are taken properly. Add full-time employment and the needs of the caregiver's own family, and the strains associated with caring for an aging loved one can be quite demanding.

For seniors living independently, a housing alternative with supportive services offers a level of respite for both the individual and his or her family, providing them access to critical services that help them live independently for as long as possible.

 

Added Healthcare Services Can Improve Quality of Life and Reduce Hospitalizations

Managing medical appointments and follow-up care can be both time-consuming, and when medication changes are involved, confusing. One partnership in Harrisburg, PA is providing in-house medical services and care coordination on a limited basis to improve health and quality of life. Presbyterian Senior Living and healthcare provider PinnacleHealth have partnered to help residents manage on-going care, discharge instructions, social issues that may prevent appropriate follow-up, and transitional care services. Preliminary results show that residents have fewer visits to the emergency department and fewer hospitalizations as a result of these interventions.

As senior housing providers continue to coordinate supportive services, our seniors can age in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible when medical needs may not necessitate a move to assisted living or nursing care. Coordinating services for residents has a profound impact on resident health and wellbeing, while at the same time providing necessary support for families caring for their aging loved ones.

Diane Burfeindt is the vice president of operations, housing with services at Presbyterian Senior Living.

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