Senior Myth One: “I am suitable for independent living because I currently live by myself.”
Heidi L. Garvis, CSA® (Certified Senior Advisor), Senior Housing and Care Consultant. Caring Considerations: Plan For Peace of Mind
Recently, I had an 84 year old client who, living alone, clearly needed some support in her life. Over the course of a year, changes occurred. Her car was dented in two places. (“Someone backed into me.”) She paid her electric bill twice in one month. She forgot to take her blood pressure medication. She fell twice but, luckily, was not severely hurt. Her house was becoming difficult to manage. Her family did not live in the area and they were justifiably concerned. Her children said they could not sleep at night knowing their mother might be unsafe. They asked her if she would look at assisted living as one of the options.
She remarked, “I have had some issues, but I can take care of myself. I will look at places, but I want independent living—not assisted living.”
Independent Living vs. Assisted Living
Senior communities (including Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing Facilities) have assessment processes which determine how much care you will need. They interview potential residents and review a physician’s report for health history and diagnosis. You may consider yourself independent (and you might be in many ways), but senior communities have their own evaluation. For example, answer these questions:
• Have you had one or more falls recently? Hospitalizations?
• Do you manage your own bill paying without significant or frequent errors?
• Have you made some poor decisions with regard to your well-being, finances, etc?
• Do you drive? Would your grandchild be safe riding with you?
• Can you name all your medications, their dosages and describe what they are for?
These questions and others can have an impact on your admission into independent living or a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). Notice I said independent living, not assisted living. CCRC’s require a medical and financial review. A nurse’s assessment may conclude that you are safer in assisted living. In general, reputable senior communities do not want to take unnecessary risks with your care, but they also don’t want to suppress your independence. The amount of care you receive is adjustable and you can be very independent.
No one wants to be dependent or deemed ‘incapable’, but senior communities have a responsibility to provide quality care and communities vary in their independent living admission criteria.