Relocating to the Carolinas may be something you have dreamed of for many years. But what if your plans are challenged by aging parents needing supportive health care services? That can be an unmanageable task, especially if that family member is 500 miles away. One solution to consider is bringing that family member with you and finding accommodations with an appropriate level of care.
In other instances, young retirees with many years of active living ahead of them have deliberately chosen communities with assisted living options, or even towns that have excellent facilities for their later years. And, that kind of planning ahead has paid off for those who have found the community that suits them, and they want to stay there!
Either way, living arrangement choices are plentiful and depend on health care needs and income, and your desired level of involvement. Options range from independent living to complete medical care with services provided or purchased on an "a la carte" basis.
Generally, there are five types of housing
- Independent living
- Congregate care
- Assisted living/catered living
- Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC)
- Skilled care nursing homes
Assisted living, which bridges the health care gap between independent living and the skilled care of a nursing home, is seeing the greatest acceptance by families seeking a lower cost option that will improve the quality of life for loved ones over the age of 75. Typically, assisted living services are 25-40 percent less costly than a nursing home. They focus on supporting those who need help with the activities of daily living in a residential environment that promotes dignity, choice and privacy. These services offer a cost-effective, compassionate combination of housing, personal care, supportive services and health care.
Assisted living tends to be the preferred choice for both the children and the parents
Facilities are designed and staffed to provide for residents who require some level of support of their activities of daily living (ADLS), such as bathing, dressing, medication, eating and personal hygiene. Assisted living may be freestanding or found in a continuing care retirement community. Services typically offered include all meals, assistance with ADLS, 24-hour security, emergency call systems, transportation, laundry services, housekeeping and social and recreational activities.
Assisted living operators are licensed as a Community Residential Care Facility by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control and in North Carolina as an Adult Care Home by the state Department of Facility Services. Most communities now have some kind of assisted living services. Typically, the first persons to inquire about services are the adult sons and daughters, 45 to 65 years old, who have parents living outside the area and need some level of support services. The children want their parents to be close to them as they age and need more care. Assisted living tends to be the preferred choice for both the children and the parents because of the residential, less institutional environment and the affordability of the services.
For Mr. Kent Mathewson, the Catered Living service at Bermuda Village, near Winston-Salem, NC offers the best possible option in this retirement community. Mr. Mathewson, is a former city manager who planned cities from coast to coast, and published a book, Keeper of the Flame. He has found catered living a real bonus for his life.
He mentions the catered living philosophy, the superb, caring staff, top-of-the line private living quarters, a fully staffed infirmary, transportation as just a few of the reasons he is so happy in this community.
"I should mention that on my first day here, I was greeted with a big cart coming to my apartment, and it really took my breath away, with the beautiful fresh fruit, juice, coffee, and their offer to fix eggs any way I wanted, with a side of bacon if I so desired." For Mr. Mathewson, that was the beginning of being catered to in a way that he appreciates.
From the professional hair stylist (no charge), to the laundry service that starches his shirts "just right," he can find nothing to say that doesn't positively glow with appreciation.
After a stellar career and teaching stints in five different universities, he and his wife, Mariana, had chosen a retirement club in San Diego, when a friend called to suggest taking a look at Bermuda Village. "We did, and changed our minds immediately," he explained. "This is the finest place to live I can imagine." At 85 years young, Mr. Mathewson has been at Bermuda Village for 18 years. After losing his wife two years ago, he has found the services and entertainment programs offered on a daily basis to be a wonderful diversion.
Asked what advice he would offer someone considering where to move for retirement, he laughed and said, "Weather. Always, always consider the weather, and after you settle that, look around at what's available. For us, this was absolutely the best choice."
Catered Living is a service that is growing in popularity among continuing care retirement communities, because it provides a level of luxury care, yet allows continued independent living. It is particularly attractive to couples when one spouse needs some assistance, but the other does not. This level of care also is appealing to children of residents who want Mom to have just a little help with medication, or personal functions.
Whatever the level of care needed, there are services available in wonderful towns and retirement communities throughout the Carolinas. From Mr. Mathewson's point of view, the attention to detail and quality of life at his home is taking the drudgery out of living, and bringing in the entertainment, cuisine and personal amenities reminiscent of the finest luxury resort.