Al Brandenburg

By Al Brandenburg

The Maricopa Senior Coalition has three long-term goals. Internment and funeral services in Maricopa, digital-photo storage services and a livable/age-friendly community.

As part of the latter and considering the growing size of our senior population, assisted living services becomes important. At some point, some of us will no longer be able to fend for ourselves. Most seniors wish to age in place in their own homes, but sometimes the best option for keeping an aging loved one safe, healthy and active is to consider a move to an assisted-living community.

Fear of the unknown often causes seniors to hesitate when it comes to moving to long-term care. Fortunately, some senior living communities are offering temporary stays, which allow potential residents to test the waters with no long-term commitment.

In the next year or so, Maricopa will have its own assisted-living senior facility near Copper Sky. Senior care exists in two scenarios. Independent living being the least restrictive and assisted living which is also minimally restrictive but, as the name implies, offers assistive services and supports.

Independent living encompasses a wide range of housing arrangements, from apartment-style communities to housing co-ops. Generally, though, residents live in their own private dwelling spaces and have access to common areas where they can gather with other members of their community. Independent living can also be referred to as an active adult community, senior apartments, a retirement community, a 55+ community or a retirement home.

Because this option is designed for seniors who can still live independently, the features and amenities in the individual dwelling areas are comparable to those in a typical small home, townhouse or apartment.

Assisted-living communities with specialized memory care units for seniors with cognitive impairment often feature increased security measures (e.g. locked doors and extra surveillance equipment) and may not allow residents to have kitchens in their apartments, due to safety concerns.

So, when is the right time to consider this move? Timing a transition to senior living can be tricky because it is highly personal. It depends on how well your loved one is faring in their current home, their present health status, and their future medical and personal needs.

Some things to consider:

  • Is the senior capable of getting around safely?
  • Are they wearing fresh, clean clothing each time you visit?
  • Can they bathe themselves, groom adequately, and launder their clothes, towels and linens?
  • Is the senior remembering to take their medications correctly, with the right dosages and at the right time?

If the answer to any these questions is “no,” it may be time to begin researching local assisted-living communities.

Al Brandenburg is director of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.

This column appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.