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Let’s Talk About It: Confusion in defining autonomy

Researching a definition for autonomy in seniors, I became more confused with each confusing article. This is a difficult subject with no clear answers.

Residences offer different levels of care, including autonomous, autonomous with services, assisted living and full nursing care. Each residence has its own definition of each.

I accompanied Mr. Jones and his family to three different residences. We were equipped with medical reports regarding his abilities and need for assistance. Each residence suggested a different type of living arrangement, from autonomous living with added services, to an assisted-living floor. The care level for Mr. Jones, although presented to all three residences in the same way, was rated differently depending on how the residence was designed in relation to services offered.

Some residences include three meals a day and housekeeping as part of their autonomous package. Other services, such as medication distribution or laundry, are offered à la carte for an extra charge. This type of residence may not be well suited for a senior still interested in doing some cooking or who might be out during designated meal times.

On the flip side, there are residences that offer an apartment in a safe environment with security, call bells and activities, but do not include meals or housekeeping. Other services can be purchased à la carte. However, if you are only planning on making yourself coffee and toast in the morning, and having the other two meals in the residence’s dining room, it may be more cost effective to look at a residence with a full meal package.

For a family visiting residences without an adviser, this can be overwhelming. Meeting with leasing agents (or lifestyle co-ordinators, as they are often called) can be confusing. For me, the bottom line is care. I am not concerned about the definition of the level of care, but whether my client’s needs will be addressed fully, whether he will only be paying for services he desires and/or requires, and if the residence provides him with his level of comfort in terms of such amenities as a dépanneur, garden, movie theatre, lounges and such. While these may exist in a residence and are impressive, the point with Mr. Jones is whether he will make use of any of them.

Don’t get caught up in how the residence presents what they view as an appropriate level of service for you or your loved one. Prepare a list of the needs and desires you are seeking. It is about finding the best one suited to the person, not the one your friend thinks is a great residence because their aunt is happy there.

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One Comment

  1. Sylvia Wedge says:

    Thank you. Excellent points to consider and information to be armed with when talking about senior care. I also believe you should endeavour to find out as much as possible about the staff working in the residence. Besides credentials and company policy, do the staff truly care, are they happy individuals who enjoy their work. Or are they lacking your language skills; temporary or from an agency; give minimal/poor service when unaware they are being observed; more effort/time is given to the image/decor than individual help. Maybe difficult to evaluate, but makes the difference for a senior’s daily experience. Sylvia Wedge

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