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Caregiver sharing a joyful moment with elderly woman. Smiling and holding hands

How Much Care Does Your Loved One Need? Planning Ahead is Key.

Chances are, someone you know is aging and requires some supportive care. And if not now, maybe soon: about seven in 10 people turning age 65 today will need some type of long-term care services and supports in their later years—in their home, in the community, or in a residential facility, according to the federal Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging.

Women need care longer (3.7 years) than men (2.2 years), according to the administration. And while one-third of today’s 65 year-olds may never need the supportive care, 20 percent will need it for longer than five years.

“While you can’t predict what you or your loved one’s needs will be exactly, it’s a good idea to plan ahead,” says Grace Ferri, chief marketing officer, United Hebrew of New Rochelle. “Many older adults plan to stay at home as long as they can. But that plan could eventually burden family caregivers, leading a loss of work or health or safety.”

For older adults who need help with activities of daily life, but don’t require around-the-clock skilled nursing, assisted living is a great option, according to Ferri, because “assisted living provides a range of high-quality healthcare services for people with diverse and changing needs.”

It wasn’t always that way. The assisted living model emerged in the 1980s as social model alternative to nursing homes for people who need supportive care to live on their own. What it provided was a residential option for people who need a little help with daily living, because of physical or cognitive limitations. Today, over half of all assisted living residents in the U.S. are over the age of 85 and have a range of supportive care needs. Many assisted living facilities have evolved to include healthcare as a core service, notes Ferri.

Enhanced Licensure Meets Evolving Healthcare Needs

“Not every assisted living provider can handle changing healthcare needs,” explains Ferri. “I’m often asked, ‘what if my mom falls, or develops chronic health conditions, can she stay in assisted living? And our answer is yes.”

That’s because Willow Towers Assisted Living is licensed by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) as an assisted living residence with dual certifications: Enhanced Assisted Living Residence (EALR) for people with extra health needs, and a Special Needs Assisted Living Residence (SNALR) for persons living with dementia. Of the 500 assisted living communities in New York State, only 167 are special needs licensed, according to the NYSDOH.

“What it means for families is that residents may live at Willow Towers for a long time after they arrive, because of the full spectrum of clinical support offered. So if mom has advanced diabetes, we can administer insulin shots. If she has mobility issues, we can transfer her from her bed to her chair. If there’s a more serious health event, she can recover in our skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. We have the licensure and the highly-trained staff to help.”

That’s not to say the social component isn’t important, Ferri emphasized. “Mom can have a robust day to day experience with our social programs, and plenty of friends to spend time with. That’s an essential part of life in assisted living.”

Aging in place at home is a viable option for some. But for those who don’t have family caregivers available, aging in place at an assisted living community that can provide advanced medical care as it is needed is ideal.

“Knowledge is power, and we want families to know that many older adults can move into our assisted living community and stay for a very long time or not have to move again at all. After Covid, many realized how lonely it can be to stay at home. At Willow Towers, we provide great medical care with all of the benefits of a home-like environment and a tight-knit community.”