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Colorado senior citizens living longer, staying active

The chief executive officer of a senior living center in Colorado recently discussed the evolution of the senior care industry during her 20-plus years working with older people.

The CEO states that "the acuity at all levels of senior care has increased." Residents who would formerly have stayed in skilled nursing facilities now are able to spend more years in assisted living, while skilled nursing facilities have begun caring for seniors with a host of complex medical issues. Aging Baby Boomers are availing themselves of rehabilitation services and replacing hip and knee joints in order to maintain their active lifestyles.

The current Baby Boomer generation is living longer and staying healthier than their counterparts in previous generations, according to the CEO. This is straining the current limits of the health care system.

The CEO defines assisted living as a situation where senior citizens manage most of their independent living activities on their own but may require some assistance with cooking, cleaning or medication reminders. Staff members are able to assist them with these tasks, and a nurse is not needed on a regular basis.

A skilled nursing rehabilitation center has a nurse on duty 24 hours a day. Aides are also on site to care for residents' needs, and doctors check in frequently. This is often a transitional step for residents recovering from major surgeries who need more hands-on care.

Not all seniors are able to afford assisted living facilities, and very few ALFs receive their funding from Medicaid. This disparity in the care they can afford and the care they need due to medical conditions or other issues causes many low income seniors to soldier on living independently at home past the point of safety. They become frail, and usually an incident occurs that forces them to be hospitalized and usually transferred to a skilled nursing facility. Had they been able to get assistance earlier, their level of care may not have been as great or as costly.

People who want the best possible environment in which to spend their most golden of years should consult with a Colorado attorney who practices estate planning to learn about long-term care options available to them on their budgets.

Source: The Colorado Springs Business Journal, "Burns finds rewards in improving seniors’ lives" Rebecca Tonn, Mar. 04, 2014

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