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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

Alternative Living Options

by Tony Nichols, Oak Gardens Place

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” –Benjamin Franklin

When is the right time to start considering senior living options?

  • My loved one brings the idea up to me?

  • I notice my loved one is starting to ask for more help from family and friends to accomplish daily tasks?

  • Something catastrophic happens like a fall, or a major medical event?

Being prepared when it comes to exploring and understanding senior living options is nothing impractical; the practical time to do it is long before any serious event occurs.

Statistics from the Population Reference Bureau show that by 2060 nearly 100 million Americans will be 65 or older.

What is senior living? As it stands today, there are many options. There are three categories of senior living options that we are going to highlight:

  • Independent Living Communities

  • Assisted Living Communities

  • Skilled Nursing Facilities.

Independent Living Communities are apartment complexes for older adults that offer various community benefits. Benefits may include community dining, transportation, housekeeping services, social and entertainment options. This living allows for independence while having access to these services.

Assisted living communities typically offer all amenities listed above but are licensed offering hands-on daily care. Services include assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, medication administration, mobility assistance, pet care, and 24/7 staff onsite to assist at a moment’s notice. Assisted Living communities offer customizable care packages with amenities, without paying for or utilizing additional care services until the need arise.

Skilled Nursing Facilities are designed to offer higher a level of medical care. The primary focus of these facilities is to assist someone in establishing a new baseline after a hospital stay or helping to manage longer term medical needs. Someone who seeks these services is in need of more advanced medical care requiring the oversight of continuous nursing and medical staff.

Without the knowledge of the various options within your community it can be challenging if an urgent need arises to find the environment that would best match your loved. Coordinating regular meals, obtaining medications, or routine wellness checks, organizing with friends and family to assist with regular errands can be tricky and especially challenging with mobility issues. The feeling of dependence on others can make living at home extremely limiting.

The Berkshire Hathaway Eau Claire team and Oak Gardens Place Assisted Living are partnering to educate families on their options. We understand that it is a difficult topic to discuss, but this will impact all of us at some point.

The benefits to living in a community setting start at socializing and community. According to the National Academy of Sciences, older adults with limited social interaction may be more likely to suffer from hypertension, coronary artery disease, cardiac failure, depression, anxiety, and various forms of dementia. Being part of a community instantly surrounds a person with friends & neighbors, a sense of security and at times healthier living. This allows independence and freedom a person desires without feeling confined.

Another benefit to Community settings is that they provide proper nutrition which is vitally important to living a healthy life. According to, 1 in 10 people living alone may be under nourished. Having easy access to a balanced and healthy diet can improve the quality of life and the sense of wellbeing.

Older adults can feel as if they are losing independence when moving into an assisted living, when in fact the opposite takes place. Hand rails, grab bars, step-in showers, accessible bathrooms, and additional supports actually create opportunity for more independence in seniors.

This article was written with the intent that this overview helps open the idea of community-based living and all the benefits it has to offer. Please be assured that there are professionals available who care and want to see the best for individuals. Do not hesitate to call if we can support you or your loved one in discussing this important topic.

(This article is written in the OPINION of the author, and statistics and quotes are sourced as applicable throughout the content and text.)

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