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Take that window of opportunity

20 March 2010
Bonnie Sandler S.W., The Senior Times - March 2010

There are three categories of senior residences within the private sector: autonomous, assisted living or intermediate care, and nursing facilities. Autonomous residences offer a myriad of care services, either included in the monthly rent or a la carte.

Who is moving into autonomous residences? Trying to understand what “autonomous” means is as confusing as identifying who is a senior. Someone leading a full life without any challenges either cognitively, physically or socially (isolation) will probably not consider a move into a senior residence unless they have decided to sell their home and see a move into a residence of choice as enhancing their lifestyle.

There is a reason that autonomous residences offer meals, cleaning, activities, security and various health services. Most seniors who move to ‘autonomous’ residences do so because of changes in their life that make keeping up with managing a home difficult.

Someone who is newly widowed and not comfortable living alone may feel more secure in a senior residence. Not only will the chores of shopping for food, cooking and cleaning be provided but they will benefit from the company of others and the stimulating activities. Medication will be safely administered to those with early memory loss. Someone with mobility issues will have many resources offered within one building. Those with health problems will feel safe having cord to pull or a button to push when they are not feeling well. In other words, autonomous residences offer services because most of their residents will have needs that precipitated their move to this type of environment. An autonomous residence will ask for “a medical” to ensure that the person’s needs are not beyond the services offered by the residence.

I work with families who have a loved one who is considering moving to a residence. More often than not, this project is initiated by the family who are concerned about the senior living on their own.

After meetings with the family, visits are arranged to residences that seem to be the best match. I am no longer surprised by a 90-year-old client telling me “he is not old enough to move into a place with so many old people.”

Watching clients who have mobility problems barely manage to tour a residence, I often wonder whether they may need more care than is provided. But clients will tell me they are not ready for such a move because they are not as sick as the residents they observe. In these cases, the family will often beg me to convince their loved one to make the move. However, I must tell them that as long as these individuals have capacity, they are free to make their own choices.

What most don’t realize or have difficulty acknowledging is that the ‘autonomous’ residence that they like so much will not accept them if their condition deteriorates.Too often I see seniors postponing the move to the desired autonomous residence, only to miss the opportunity because they wait until there is a crisis. At that point the first choice residence will no longer be able to care for the individual. Sadly, the crisis is often a fall, which leads to other challenges.

While some seniors see a move to an autonomous residence as a positive quality of life decision, others postpone this decision until they no longer have the range of choices they had earlier. There is a window of opportunity where you can choose your preferred residence. Waiting too long limits your choices

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Bonnie Sandler

Residential Real Estate Broker, Housing Consultant for Seniors

514 497-3775