Elder Care: Giving Grandma options

Elder care industry adapts to new demands in retirement living

Posted on Mar 1, 2016 :: Elder Care , Insight On
Andrew Schaick
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

For Julie Davids, providing a service to help people stay in their homes and get the medical help they need was inspired by her grandfather, who needed care due to early onset dementia.

A situation many families face when getting help for their elderly loved ones is deciding whether to have them move to an assisted living facility or contracting with caregivers to come to their homes. Often, the family sits at a crossroads, trying to decide the best possible option.

Staying at home will make the most of the client’s dollar for those healthy and independent enough to stay, says Davids, owner of Health Care Assistance of the Fox Cities. In some situations, she says, it’s more cost effective to have a caregiver come into a house than having the elderly patient go into a nursing home.

“People are learning now that there are other options out there and it also stretches the long-term care dollar,” Davids says. “Eventually, someone may have to move to a level of care that requires them to leave the home, but staying at home prolongs that dollar.”

As the baby boomer population begins to enter retirement, health-care providers are seeing an increased need for elder-care services — whether that’s in-home care, rehabilitation care or long-term care.

Businesses like Home Care Assistance recognize the desire many people have to stay in their own homes as long as possible. Since opening in October 2015, Home Care Assistance’s client base has grown from Green Bay to Fond du Lac.

“Home Care Assistance has done a lot of extensive research and it’s been found that nine out of 10 elders want to stay in their homes,” Davids says. “This is in part due to more awareness of this and an overall awareness that there is this option for people.”

Davids says as more of the elderly population stays home, there will be a stronger need for caregivers and home-care programs that promote a well-being of healthy mind, body and spirit.

“We have found great success with this and the practice of holistic healing is very prevalent in society,” she says.

Social needs

For others, staying at home is not the desired option. During the past decade, assisted living facilities and nursing homes have taken a different direction in terms of services they offer.

Retirement communities such as Touchmark of Appleton are adapting to new ways people are aging. As an option for those who do not wish to stay in their homes and to have more interaction with others, living communities are gradually increasing in popularity.

“To move to a community does not mean you need help,” says Barbara Pandolfo, executive director for Touchmark in Appleton. “More people are choosing to move to communities to basically free up their burdens and to enjoy life, or to be around other people with similar interests and backgrounds.”

Recent retirees have expressed an interest in the sense of community that Touchmark offers, whether they are looking to move or making plans for the future, Pandolfo says.

“We are seeing more of the baby boomers walking in the door, which is a pretty different change,” Pandolfo says. “The beneficial part to these communities is they show people that this is a pretty phenomenal beginning to a new chapter, and it’s not the last chapter.”

Besides building communities for elders to interact and socialize in, Touchmark is attune to the trending interests of its clients.

“Different generations have different expectations and desires in their lifestyle …  and we are keeping up with those changes and trends,” Pandolfo says. “You really have to be driven by the wants, needs and desires of your residents and your potential residents.”

Building up

As the need for senior living communities grows, construction companies such as Consolidated Construction Co., Inc. are designing buildings that have a residential feel to them — also in keeping up with the baby boomer preferences.

“They want to be relevant, healthy and live as long as they can and be connected to their loved ones,” says Tim Rinn, market leader in the senior living team for Consolidated Construction. “Things as simple as Internet and Wi-Fi make a huge difference for someone looking to downsize and make their lives simpler by moving into a senior living community.”

Rinn says around Wisconsin, more buildings that resemble luxury homes and apartments will begin to take shape because this is what the upcoming elder population wants.

“There is a huge demand for senior living even nationally,” Rinn says. “Making really good residential communities that offer a variety of health-care services for seniors will be an effort that continues to grow over the next 10 years and it’s our job to push the envelope and make these buildings really great.”

Banking on the future

Even though long-term health care insurance is not new to the market, awareness is increasing rapidly.

A common fear among those planning for retirement is going to a care facility and spending down all their assets. Similar to other insurance policies, long-term care insurance helps cover the cost of care beyond a predetermined period and covers care generally not covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

Although this option might seem like the best investment for some, Davids says you need to be well aware of your financial situation before signing on the dotted line.

“The bottom line to all of this is really knowing your financial situation and what option would fit best for you and your family,” Davids says.