Whether you're planning ahead for an upcoming retirement or you've been enjoying your golden years for a while now, you may be concerned about the concept of the continuum of care. Most older adults do have some idea that this is important for them, even if they don't know what the technical term is. Find out more about the continuum of care below, including why it's important and how to foster it in your life or the life of someone you love.
A continuum of care is simply the concept that care occurs on a continuous spectrum. The care needs of individuals, whether they have a chronic illness or are simply experiencing the natural aging process, can change over time. Care must evolve to meet those needs.
Here's just one example of the continuum of care associated with assisted living communities such as Autumn View Gardens.
In the best cases, the continuum of care offered is flexible and can be customized to meet the needs of the individual. While there are certainly common directions for care to grow, each person is unique, and a strict adherence to detailed steps of care doesn't always work.
People go through continued changes throughout their lifetimes. Consider the first 15 to 20 years of life. Babies need a completely different level of care than toddlers, who need a unique level and type of care when compared to elementary school children. The continuum of care for children evolves through these years and can be seen in the way parents and families handle everything from education to medical care.
That evolution never changes, but it may slow down some in the middle of life. As an older adult, the evolution can pick up a bit (or a lot) depending on factors such as overall health, support systems and the presence of chronic illnesses.
If you are dealing with factors that you know will make the continuum of care a critical factor in upcoming years — such as a chronic illness like diabetes or a dementia diagnosis — planning ahead can be a way to safeguard your future wellness and comfort as much as possible. And because no one knows 100% what the future might hold, being aware of options regarding continuum of care and having ideas about what you might want can be important for all seniors.
If you or someone you love are dealing with a memory-related diagnosis like dementia or Alzheimer's, planning for a continuum of care is especially important. It's tempting to believe that everything will be okay if you stay in your own home. You're familiar with that environment and it may be comforting to you. It's also common for families to want to provide care for older loved ones in these situations, and that is also good and admirable.
But these solutions don't always work long-term as the care needs of an individual grow and become more complex. Eventually, families often need to have hard discussions about what the right step is and whether professional care is necessary.
One way to foster a seamless continuum of care is to have that conversation as early as possible. An option some families decide on is to opt for a move into an assisted living community that also offers a memory care level before memory care is required. This way, the older adult can integrate into a vibrant, social life at the assisted living community, become very familiar with the location and all its amenities and enjoy growing relationships with staff and other residents.
When the time comes that care needs grow and it's time to make a move to the memory care level within that community, the change isn't nearly as major, reducing how much the person must deal with.
At Autumn View Gardens, we honor the uniqueness of every resident, and we know that each person must decide what is best for them or their loved ones. Our memory care staff works to support seamless moves between levels of care whether someone is making a change within the community or coming in as a new memory care resident.