Care partners

Senior housing staff can help ease the burden on caregivers without cutting them out of the picture

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‘I’m just burned out.’

If you’re providing care to an older adult who’s still living in his or her own home, you’ve likely thought this at some point during your caregiving journey.

While you may cherish being able to help, you may also recognize that caregiving is taking a toll on your life — physically, emotionally and socially.

Thankfully, there are many options to help you and other adult caregivers regain balance in your lives. If you’ve been caregiving for a while and have reached the point of burnout, or you just can’t add any more tasks to your plate, you might consider senior housing as a partner on your journey.

What is senior housing?

Senior housing is an umbrella term that refers to any housing community that provides living accommodations to older adults. There are many different types, including independent living, assisted living, congregate housing, residential-care homes and more.

While states define these terms differently, what ultimately distinguishes them is the types and levels of services they offer to residents as part of their contracts.

In addition to the services available through the housing provider, most communities allow residents to contract with outside agencies for whatever services they want.

A team approach 

So why might your loved ones want to consider a senior housing community?

To start with, they won’t have to worry about tasks that come with being a homeowner, such as yardwork and home repairs.They’ll also be surrounded by peers and have opportunities for socialization, which can help combat loneliness and isolation.

But arguably the greatest benefit is having access to as much, or as little, help as they might want or need.

Health-care aides, nurses, social workers and other trained professionals can assist with tasks such as household chores, grocery shopping, medication management and other personal care.

As a caregiver, you’ll benefit by being able to collaborate with housing and home-care staff. You can help with as many caregiving tasks as you want, such as making meals to heat up in the microwave or folding a basket of laundry.

This team approach can help you interact with your loved one as you once did — as a son, daughter or spouse.

Tour tips 

If you and the person you’re assisting decide to tour a housing community, here are some things to look for:

  • Interactions between staff and residents. Observe how staff members interact with residents.
    Do they greet residents and know them by name? Are they friendly and helpful, or distracted and busy?
  • Cleanliness and upkeep. Your loved one deserves to live in a home that’s clean and not falling apart. Take note of anything that suggests the building isn’t being kept in tip-top shape.
  • Community size. Some communities are small — housing a dozen or so residents — while others have room for several hundred. As you tour, note how your loved one reacts to the size and layout of the community. Does he or she appear relaxed and engaged, or nervous and out of place?

No matter what you decide, you can know that you’re not alone in your caregiving journey.


Sam Patet is a writing specialist with Lyngblomsten, a Christian nonprofit organization that provides healthcare, housing and community resources to older adults in the Twin Cities. Lyngblomsten is a member of the Metropolitan Caregiver Service Collaborative. Learn more at lyngblomsten.org
and caregivercollaborative.org.


Resources

For Twin Cities residents, the Senior Housing Guidebook (published by Care Options Network) is an excellent resource.

It contains lists of many different senior housing communities and includes information on pricing, types of rooms, amenities and services and contact information.

You can learn more at careoptionsnetwork.org/guidebook.

Another resource is the Senior LinkAge Line (800-333-2433). Representatives are available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can provide you with a list of senior housing communities in your area.