Also referred to as a continuing care retirement community or life plan community, a continuum community for seniors has been described as “a long-term care option for older people who want to stay in the same place through different phases of the aging process… They offer different types of housing and care levels based on an older adult’s needs and how they change.”
Continuum communities for seniors provide opportunities for residents to embrace a healthier, more vibrant and less worrisome quality of life. This might look like a resident starting out living independently in an apartment, then transitioning to assisted living when additional help with daily activities is needed, to skilled nursing when more medical care is a requirement or to specialized memory care when Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms emerge. All of these changes in care occur while the resident remains within the same community.
Peace of Mind
While lots of older adults treasure their family home and desire nothing more than to age in place there, there is a looming reality to accept. Unfortunately, changes in physical, mental, emotional and logistical circumstances may eventually make this option a challenging and stressful one—not just for the senior living there, but also for their loved ones.
Because of this, the “aging in community” approach is often a more beneficial choice for seniors thinking about their future. Continuum communities provide a wide range of care and services in one place, so seniors benefit from retaining a sense of stability and familiarity that supports peace of mind as their conditions change.
The continuum of care accommodates different levels of ability and mobility, thereby fostering freedom and choice for a healthier lifestyle. Caring staff members provide support while encouraging residents to live as independently as possible. This increased sense of confidence replaces fear and leads to greater independence.
Safety & Security
The prospect of living alone, or moving from place to place as physical and mental capabilities change, can be a daunting one. At the forefront of this anxiety is often a senior’s worry over their personal safety, or what will happen and who will help in an emergency.
In a continuum community for seniors, safety and security are top priorities—whether residents are operating more independently or require in-depth care and assistance with daily activities. No matter where in the continuum a senior resides, they can be assured that safety and security within the community are a top priority.
Strengthened, Long-Term Relationships
No matter the level of independence a senior enjoys, human connection is paramount to overall health and wellness. But many older adults who live at home, or who bounce between care facilities as care needs evolve, become increasingly disconnected from the people around them. This is a major cause for concern, as depression and social isolation can lead to detrimental outcomes in physical and mental health.
In an environment where relationships are front and center—and where those relationships have the opportunity to develop and strengthen over time, even as care needs shift—the advantage for seniors is incredible. Time spent with well-known friends, neighbors and care staff become part of daily routines, fostering a sense that each person is welcome, belongs and truly matters. In the event that more involved assistance, medical attention, memory care or other support is required, residents can still maintain these valuable relationships.
Focus on Senior Health & Nutrition
Speaking of relationships, one of the best ways for people to come together and connect is through mealtime. But living alone or transitioning from one care facility to another can lead seniors to spend their breakfast, lunch and dinner times alone. Not to mention, preparing meals and making healthy options that meet changing dietary needs can become an increasing struggle as adults age. Exercise and other elements of mind-body wellness may also become less accessible or more intimidating.
When a senior lives in a community with a continuum of care and services, however, attention to nutrition and exercise is more prominent. The community setting brings residents and friends of all care and ability levels together around the table for a more connected experience that supports well-being. These communities ensure balanced meals that meet evolving nutritional and dietary needs, all while providing variety and choice. Daily fitness opportunities for increased mobility and strength help to encourage an active lifestyle and prevent falls. All of these factors contribute to greater opportunities for maintaining health and wellness in a far less stressful way.
Home Maintenance & Services
Even if a senior is in good enough health to continue embracing an independent lifestyle, they may eventually become tired of keeping up with home maintenance and household chores. These responsibilities are time-consuming and exhausting, and there’s no telling when a change in physical limitations may impact a senior’s ability to manage them effectively.
Continuum communities for seniors lift the burden of home maintenance and upkeep by providing a comfortable, home-like setting where these responsibilities are alleviated. Residents, whether their capabilities inhibit them or not, can also take advantage of options like laundry, linen service and regular housekeeping. This kind of maintenance-free living eliminates burdensome responsibilities for loved ones and family caregivers, even before any signs of declining health mandate the need for this type of assistance.
Access to Appropriate Care, at the Right Time
When the potential future needs of a senior are not considered well in advance of changing circumstances, there’s a danger of not being able to access the right level of care for one’s current situation. From unexpected shifts in health and mobility to sudden changes in cognitive faculties or mental well-being, it’s crucial to have the appropriate people and care available to address a senior’s care needs as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, finding care for a senior can be a drawn-out or stressful process if no one was expecting or planning for the change in circumstance. Caregivers may become overwhelmed with navigating health and care options, and the senior may feel guilty, frustrated or fearful about the realities facing them.
This is not the case in a senior community that provides a continuum of care. Aging loved ones can make this transition when they are of able mind and body, making access to a higher level of care more immediate and seamless should the need arise. This is one of the most notable reasons to explore the option of a continuum community now.
UMH offers a variety of senior living options, providing a full continuum of care that works to accommodate changing care needs. With independent and assisted living at our Crosby Commons, Wesley Heights and Middlewoods communities, memory care at our Lifestyle Transitions community, and short-term rehab and skilled nursing at our Bishop Wicke Health and Rehabilitation Center, UMH truly provides a continuum of services that supports health, independence and dignity.
To find out more about how United Methodist Homes provides a wealth of offerings and opportunities to support the health and wellbeing of our residents, contact us today or schedule a complimentary visit now.