Lifestyle

Horne: Trying to find the best community housing for seniors

Knowledge is power and that certainly applies to understanding the possibilities available in community housing for seniors.

Even within the industry itself, there is often confusion on what various terms mean, so I am not surprised when I have clients coming to me with questions about how to navigate the system.

Thinking about the options and the timing of making the transition from a private home or apartment into some form of seniors’ housing is a discussion that is the least stressful when done pro-actively.

Learning what is available to meet various needs, what the costs are and getting clear on the process will help you redefine independence as you age.

When done in a leisurely manner before it becomes a “have to” scenario, it can be approached with a sense of exploration and curiosity, offering enjoyable opportunities for free lunches out.

Think of it as a way to maintain more control over your life when handled pro-actively, rather than narrowing possible choices when a move is needed reactively in a crisis situation.

Taking one step at a time is how most of us handle the changing phases of our lives. So considering housing transitions as you advance in maturity can be approached in the same manner.

So where do you start? Some basic understanding of three types of seniors’ communities is a good first step.

Independent Living Communities, also referred to as Supportive Living, are for independent seniors capable of directing their own lives and able to come and go as they please.

A variety of suite sizes are offered which may include studios, one bedrooms, one bedrooms with a den and two bedrooms.

A monthly fee includes rent, from one to three meals a day, housekeeping and a listing of recreational activities that can be attended optionally within the residence and out in the greater community.

Transportation to events by private bus is available and in some communities to individual appointments.

Suites are rented on a month by month basis and you will be required to sign an occupancy agreement with the community.

Most sites provide 24-hour emergency response by use of pull cords in the suite or via an emergency pendant worn on the wrist or around the neck.

This is responded to by a staff person who will call the appropriate people needed when a senior has an emergency occurring.

This level of housing does not provide assistance with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living such as bathing, escorting to meals, dressing, grooming or personal hygiene) if needed, although this can be acquired privately or through the Interior Health Authority if eligible.

A SAFER grant through BC Housing may be available for low income seniors to assist with rental costs.

Assisted Living Communities offer the same services as described above, but in this level of housing seniors receive help with prescribed services by care attendant staff.

That assistance can apply to a maximum of two of the following: ADLs, medications, management of cash resources, special dietary oversight, behaviour management and psychological therapy.

This may be provided in a separate assisted living residence or as an option of service that is made available to the resident’s suite when needs change and a higher level of care is required.

Assisted living services can be provided as approved through the Assisted Living Registry, which administers the registration of all assisted living sites in B.C., whether private pay or publicly subsidized.

Entry into all subsidized assisted living communities in the Central Okanagan is governed by the Interior Health Authority and eligibility is determined through an assessment done by a case manager.

Access into a private pay site is a process of touring various available locations yourself or with hired assistance, deciding on which site best meets your needs.

If a decision is made to take the next step, you can either put down a deposit on an available suite and set a move in date or go on a waiting list for the next available suite that would accommodate your needs.

A waitlist deposit is often required and the cost varies between $200 to $500. You can accept or refuse a private pay suite when it becomes available, and still remain on the waiting list.

Two capacity requirements defined by the Registry for housing assisted living residents are that they must be able to know how to act in the case of emergency and be able to direct their own care.

Long Term Care or Residential Care provides housing, hospitality services and personal assistance as identified above, but also adds in 24 hour professional nursing care for seniors who are unable to care for themselves.

The majority of long term care is funded by the government, however, there are limited private pay beds within some of the funded sites in the Kelowna area, as well as totally private pay facilities that also offer the Independent and Assisting Living levels.

These progressive level or Campus of Care Communities allow for a senior to age in place within that community as needs change, which can be a very desirable option.

With subsidized residential care, seniors pay 80 per cent of their after tax income and by a rate schedule determined by the province.

In private pay, the monthly rate costs are between $5,000 and $6,000, but rooms are usually available more quickly.

Knowing your options provides greater peace of mind for the future.

For more information on questions to ask before making a move, go to www.caresmart\resources\caregiving tips.ca.

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