N.Y. Times: Assisted Living Not One Size Fits All

Assisted living for seniors can happen in many forms and settings, from the home to a community, and there’s no one-size-fits-all plan, writes a senior care specialist in a New York Times Q&A column.  

More than one hundred readers wrote in with questions and comments, including one touting assisted living communities for providing residents with more freedom than they could enjoy in their own homes.

But there’s no one size fits all plan, counters Debra Drelich, a geriatric care specialist, licensed social worker in New York, and founder of New York Elder Care Consultants. 

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“There is no one ‘right’ plan for all elders. Many elders prefer not being ‘trapped’ in their homes with a stranger or hired caregiver, yet they need services,” Drelich writes. “Having the services they need throughout the day provided by the overall facility staff helps to enhance their privacy as well. Yet others will do anything to remain at home, and might come to cherish their caregivers.” 

Another reader questions the concept of “aging gracefully in place,” citing a disabled friend who just moved into an assisted living community where she can participate in physical therapy and fitness classes and other group activities, as opposed to being “marooned” in her home. 

“‘Aging gracefully in place’ can be beautiful. However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ best plan for everyone,” says Drelich. “Each situation has to be individually planned for. As the writer mentions, aging in place can mean isolation and uncertainty for some, yet be perfectly suitable for others.

“Living in a group setting does not guarantee that people will achieve a social life, if they have never been social in the past. At the same time freed from the responsibilities of maintaining a private house or apartment, many people, from my experience, blossom and benefit from the supportive services and social milieu of a supportive housing environment.”

Other topics addressed include options for married couples who need different levels of care; group homes; assisted living licensing; and memory care.

Read the full column

Written by Alyssa Gerace