Article: HOUSING OPTIONS - From Ask Dr. Marion
By Dr. Marion Somers, Ph. D., Ask Dr. Marion
QUESTION: What housing choices are there for my 79 year-old father? I don't think he can live by himself now that my mother has passed away. Ellen in Oregon, 54
ANSWER: As I'm sure you realize, this is an incredibly difficult subject. Where and how a person lives says everything about their independence and sense of self. If you are considering removing your father from his long time home, do so only because of medical or economic issues that cannot be managed otherwise. In any relocation there is an adjustment period ? transfer trauma ? that can diminish cognitive abilities, disorient your father, and/or send him into depression.
So what are your options? Can he come live with you?or another relative?or another friend? That is an increasingly popular option for families where the elder is fully or mostly functional, but extremely lonely. Some families are even building an addition or extra wing to accommodate their elder relatives. Though surely a challenge, having your father become a fixture in your family's daily living quarters can be more rewarding than you'd ever imagine.
Communal living homes are also an option. This is a home or apartment-like facility where the elderly share rooms or common living spaces. Some of these homes provide meals and care on site, others do not. Be sure when considering communal living homes that they can meet your father's care needs.
Assisted living is the next step up in care. Here, your father will still be able to maintain a strong level of independence, come and go as he wishes, and have visitors. Various programs are available including 24/7 nurse or aide supervision, medical care, and meals. If he requires a higher level of care, nursing facilities are a final option.
The crucial consideration is to maintain a level of independence for your father. Listen to where he wants to live. Will he be happy there? Does he have a friend who is living in a place he would like to live? Give him a chance to maintain or improve his social life. Companionship is very important until the very end so you must be extra careful to keep him as connected as possible.
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