Helping Aging Parents Plan…for the Best of Their Life!

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by Michele Biggart, Director of Sales, Fountaingate Gardens

There is a new generation label that many of us fall into, along with our Generation X and Millennial designation – the Sandwich Generation. This large group of 30-, 40- and 50-somethings can all relate to one important word … “GO!”  Constantly on the go, Sandwich Generation dwellers are juggling careers, raising young children, caring for older family members and maintaining a sense of order within our lives. We have learned to multitask, manage in a pandemic and be “present” for all loved ones at all times.

While the world continues to spin at unprecedented speeds, a looming question remains for those of us managing this delicate family balancing act: How do we help our aging parents plan for their next stage of life, especially if their lives comingle with our own, i.e. the active grandparent who tutors his grandson, or the grandmother who makes the soccer game when dad cannot? How can we, the adult children, step up and become an active participant in the future of our own parents?

As an adult child, it’s important to explore and fully comprehend the myriad choices in today’s active senior housing industry when the family home no longer fits current lifestyle needs. If mowing the lawn, cleaning out the basement or tackling the perpetual “fix-it” list is not your parents’ vision of living their best and active life, then perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere.

Understanding the many senior housing options for the active adult can be intimidating. As an adult child and potentially a caregiver to your parents, this knowledge is essential in helping them in the decision-making process.

Choices include:

1.) Independent Living (Life Plan Community): As the term states, this senior housing option provides a unique “aging in place” plan for the next phase of life. These communities are age-restricted rental properties, typically 62 years and over, with a one-time entrance or investment fee that covers future healthcare needs. Most Life Plan communities feature central dining facilities, concierge and resort-style services and amenities, as well as access to a continuum of health care services on the same campus, i.e. assisted living residences and skilled nursing care or rehabilitation. A Life Plan Community is a perfect fit for an active, healthy senior who seeks engagement, stimulation and sense of community with like-minded neighbors, and also who is savvy about the need for and cost of potential long-term health care. Various contract options in a Life Plan Community help to plan for evolving healthcare needs at a predictable cost, while providing asset protection.

2.) 55+ Communities: For those on the younger side of retirement as well as well-seasoned retirees, 55-and-over communities feature an active lifestyle and maintenance-free living, like a Life Plan Community; however, no health care provisions are available through the community. If healthcare needs should change, a search for and move to another community will be necessary.

3.) Assisted Living: This senior housing option is designed for those older adults who wish to maintain their independence and privacy, but also require some assistance with everyday tasks otherwise known as activities of daily livings or ADLs. Residents may be assisted with medication monitoring, personal care needs, meal preparation and cleaning, while also enjoying a full calendar of activities for socialization.

4.) Skilled Nursing: Also known as a nursing care facility, this residential option is for those who require daily nursing care and typically includes short- and long-term rehabilitation services. Nursing staff is on-site and available 24/7 to provide daily care, with physicians either on staff or on-call to address medical needs.

Planning before a crisis develops is vital. Having the conversation isn’t always easy, but discussing and understanding your parents’ wishes and being their research partner is key to helping them make the right lifestyle choice for their later years – a time that should be active, engaging and rich in healthy living.

Michele Biggart is the Director of Sales at Fountaingate Gardens, a soon-to-be-built Life Plan Community in Commack, Long Island, on the campus of the Gurwin Healthcare System. A certified Geriatric Care Manager, Michele has more than a decade of experience in the active senior living industry. When not helping retirees explore future housing options, she is busy raising two children and engaged in helping her own parents plan for the next chapter of their lives. Contact Michele at 631.715.2693 to learn about Life Plan Community living.


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