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April 30, 2008 > Living Arrangements for Seniors: What Are Your Options?

Living Arrangements for Seniors: What Are Your Options?

Geriatric Social Worker Will Discuss Housing Options and Alternatives at Upcoming Seminar

When is the right time to consider a senior living arrangement? Knowing how to recognize the right time comes down to the kind of living arrangement that is needed. Some seniors choose to stay at home while others require some kind of specific care. Some consider senior living solely on their changing lifestyle, such as escaping the upkeep of a house, or being with others who have similar interests.

Fortunately, there are many choices today that can add quality to life like never before. With some basic awareness and planning, it is very possible for seniors to live the kind of lives they want to live. The time to think about and plan for those years is now.

At the upcoming "Living Arrangements for Seniors: What Are Your Options?" seminar sponsored by Washington Senior Care, Vivian I. Silva, MSW, a geriatric social worker who teaches at San Jose State University and Notre Dame de Namur University will discuss retirement living and the different levels of care that are available to older adults.

"There are so many variables regarding a move and it's important to fully understand the reasons for contemplating a move. Finances, loss of a loved one, desire to be near children or grandchildren - to name just a few," says Silva. "As a geriatric social worker and care manager, I know the agony sometimes families go through trying to make the right decisions about care for their loved ones. An informed decision is so much better than making an emotional one."

Silva, who has more than 19 years of experience in the senior industry will discuss and answer questions about the variety of levels of living arrangements that are available today including: retirement homes, board & cares, assisted living and skilled nursing. She says family members need to take a lot of factors into consideration before they make a decision to move an older adult into a new living situation.

"As I suggested to my sons when deciding where to go to college, write a 'pro' and 'con' list," Silva says. "People also need to research and assess desired accommodations and services available in a new community. For example, adult children may move their recently widowed mother to the Bay Area to be near them only to find the elder starts to feel isolated. Leaving long-time friends and church community behind, the older adult may begin to feel confined to the new setting as driving with the freeways here can be intimidating compared to where they moved from."

Every Family Has a Unique Set of Circumstances
Making senior living decisions is hard and it represents an enormous change for everyone involved. How do you face leaving your family home? How do you suggest to a parent or loved one they may be better off "somewhere else?" How do you balance caring for an older adult, manage your career and taking care of your own family at the same time? These are just a few of the issues that Silva has experience talking about.

"There is no question that the majority of older adults want to remain in their own homes," she says. "Caregivers do their best to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible. However, incontinence and difficult behavior such as being combative and wandering leave the caregiver exhausted. Family members often see the need for in home help or nursing home care to protect the health of the caregiver as well."

Nursing Homes - Changing Attitudes
According to Silva, nursing homes have changed tremendously over the years and images of elders tied to their chairs and beds receiving little attention is a negative misconception associated with nursing homes.

"There was a time when elders were separated from their spouses if they were both in the same facility which didn't allow any intimacy or privacy, she adds. "Thankfully, advocates successfully changed the nursing home atmosphere. There is always room for improvement but now you find residents engaging in activities and couples together with sanctioned privacy."

To learn more about retirement living options and the different levels of care available, join Vivian Silva at the upcoming seminar on Friday, May 2 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D., Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, Fremont. Visit www.whhs.com to register for the seminar or call Washington Hospital's toll free Health Connection line (800) 963-7070.

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