Diversity in Living Arrangements Among the Elderly Term Paper

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Living Arrangements Among the Elderly

This is an eight page paper concerning the diversity in living arrangements among the elderly. There are six references used.
People today are living longer, which means there is a large elderly population in our society. There are many concerns facing the elderly, one of which is housing. The elderly have several options available to them and it's interesting to see how diverse they can be.
Before we look at the housing options for the elderly, we should first explore the statistics concerning the population of this growing group. There were over 35.0 million persons over 65 in the United States in 2000. This accounts for 12.4% of the population or one in every eight Americans. Since 1990, the number of elderly has increased 12.0% in comparison to the 13.3% increase of those under 65. The startling fact is those aged 45-64 increased 34%, meaning there will be a tremendous boom in the elderly population over the next 20 years.
The older people get, the larger the ratio of women to men becomes. This is evidenced in the fact that in the 65-69 age group the ratio of women to men is 117 while in the over 85 age group, the ratio is 245. In 2000 there were 20.6 elderly women and 14.4 million elderly men which meant there were 143 women for every 100 men (http://www.exnet.iastate.edu/Pages/housing/options.html).
The percentage of Americans over 65 has tripled in the last one hundred years. The population itself is getting older. If someone was born in 1900, they could expect to live 47.9 years. In

contrast, children born in 2000 can look forward to living to be at least 76.9 years old since the death rate among children and young adults has decreased significantly. In 2000 the number of people who celebrated their 65 birthday averaged 5,574 a day, while the death rate of those 65 or older was 650 a day. Also, since 1900 the number of people who are 100 or older has grown 35%, accounting for 0.02% of the current population (http://www.exnet.iastate.edu/Pages/housing/options.html).
Who They Live With
In 1999, according to the Census Bureau, of those 65 or older, "54.7% lived with a spouse, 30.3% lived alone, 12.8% lived with other relatives and 2.2% lived with nonrelatives (Greenwald, 1999)."
Assisted Living
Just a few decades ago, the elderly who were healthy, but needed a little assistance had few options available to them. They could either go to a nursing home or if possible, move in with their grown children. In the early 1980's things began to change and now there are several alternatives available to them, one of which is assisted living. This method provides them with more just a roof over their head, it allows them to continue having their independence and their privacy (Greenwald, 1999).
With assisted living, the person has their own apartment in a complex that is supplied with an
around the clock staff who is available to assist with them with getting dressed and baths. The

facility has social functions for its tenants and most even have a beauty shop in the complex.
In the United States, one-fourth of people who live in senior housing reside in one of 20,000 to 30,000 assisted living facilities(Greenwald, 1999). These facilities vary from free-standing
complexes to those that provide medical assistance and additional aid to the residents as they
grow older. The general arrangement of assisted living is the senior buys the apartment and can move into assisted-care rooms or a nursing home that is on the site as their health deteriorates. The cost is a lot less than a typical nursing home and includes a contract for a monthly maintenance fee that takes care of all services provided. The elderly look at these facilities as "the ultimate insurance policy (Greenwald, 1999)" where they can spend their lives in comfort without taking all of their savings. With earnings of $490 billion predicted by 2030, it's no wonder that the Hyatt Corporation and Marriott International are getting involved in this growing market.
Assisted living isn't completely without it's problems. Congress is looking into some facilities that have misleading brochures concerning reasons you can be expelled. They agree that new services such as assisted living complexes are needed, however they should be monitored for consumer fraud and abuse by those who don't really care about the elderly, and are only concerned with making a buck (Greenwald, 1999).
This is a new market that is currently evolving and hopefully the problems it now has will be remedied in the very near future.

Home Sharing
An alternative living arrangement that has been explored in Burlington, VT is home sharing. This is "the sharing of a single-family dwelling by two unrelated individuals, one of whom owns the home (Krecker, 1995)." This is seen as a step between the senior living on his own and possibly going into a nursing home.
Though the candidates are screened, there can be friction between the roommates, leading to problems. The original concept was for the owner of the house, who is a senior citizen, to stay in their house with a younger person who pays a small rent, provides companionship and is there in case of an emergency. In over 40% of those surveyed, though, it has turned into a caregiver-patient scenario where the owner pays the younger person to stay with them and provide assistance with tasks such as bathing, helping them dress, and furnish them transportation. This can change what should be a landlord-tenant relationship in to a personal caregiver relationship (Krecker, 1995). This is not what the program was originally established for, and more research needs to be done before this can be deemed a viable solution for the elderly who want to live independently.
Nursing Homes
There are still the traditional nursing homes, though they changing from "long-term care and toward rehabilitative facilities, for short-term stays following hospitalization (Greenwald, 1999)."
The population in nursing homes is more than 70 percent women due to the fact that women

usually outlive men. Even with these statistics, "few women have long-term health-care insurance (Halverson, 2000)."
The 1.7 million elderly who reside in long-term care nursing homes may disagree with the term "nursing home (Uhlenberg, 1997)." Most feel that having a roommate, eating when they to told to instead of when they'd like to, being unable to decorate their room as they'd please and having unfeeling aides care for them is not home. Also, since there are few professional nurses on duty, they find the term "nursing" misleading (Uhlenberg, 1997). Most elderly receive an average of nine minutes of care a day from a registered nurse.
The name is not the problem with these facilities. The problem lies in the fact that these places are "costly, inhospitable structures, failing to meet the needs of the persons who must spend the their last weeks or years of life in them because better alternatives are not available (Unlenburg, 1997)." Instead of just contemplating the inaccuracies of the name, more needs to be done to make sure the elderly have better healthcare and have the opportunity to live their lives in dignity.
Staying with the Children
Some elderly have found that after years of independence, they must move in with their children. Though some families adjust very well to these living arrangements, others find it can be a hardship on them when mom or dad moves in. Since most of the children are in their 30's or 40's, they have work and their own families to care for. The additional family member in their

household can create more responsibilities for the already overburdened child. Besides the stress of being turned in to caregivers, they can also find having their parents living with them a financial burden. A recent survey showed that "one-half of all American households have accumulated less than $1,000 in net financial assets (Halverson, 2000)."
Home Care Agencies
Some seniors utilize home care agencies that provide nursing care and aides to patients by coming to their home and if needed, furnish live-in care. This enables the senior to stay in their home as long as possible (Greenwald, 1999). These nurses monitor the patient, make sure they are taking their medications properly, do dressing changes if needed and will contact the Dr. if a problem arises. The aides assist the patient with bathing, dressing and other personal care.
Group Homes
Of the numerous people who are admitted to nursing homes, it is estimated that one-half are affected by dementia, and more than 60 percent of the residents are "cognitively impaired (Uhlenberg, 1997)." Though some of these patients have severe medical conditions, a lot of them are healthy and shouldn't have to share the same living quarters. Though nursing homes are finally realizing this and creating separate units for the patients, group homes are gaining in popularity.
Group homes are usually free-standing buildings that are away from nursing homes. Instead of
focusing on the medical…

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