Ask Sheri: Your senior family adviser

Sheri Simpson

By Sheri Simpson

My name is Sheri Simpson. My experience comes from education and talking and guiding hundreds of thousands of families and/or their adult children through the senior living industry options.

We talk about senior living communities, residential care homes, home health, hospice, in-home care, or how to be successful staying at home.

I strive to set them up for success by having plans A, B, C and, most of the time, D.

I have explained the pros and cons of each scenario. We talk about each option, as I get them the information and resources they need to make the best decision for themselves and/or their loved ones.

I am an Arizona-certified dementia practitioner and dementia support group instructor. I hold dementia caregiver support groups all over the Valley.

The articles you will see here are real, my answers and guidance are real. If you are dealing with or are wondering about what to do, I am a great resource for you and/or your loved one.

The senior industry is confusing. Let me make it clear, concise and clutterless for you.
Today, let’s talk about the most common types of senior living options that are available.

Senior living rental community

A senior living rental community is a campus that usually has independent, assisted and/or memory care-secured neighborhoods.

These are usually packed with great food; activities; housekeeping; transportation; and care services available like medication disbursement, bathing, toileting and dressing.

There is a one-time, nonrefundable community fee that ranges between $1,000 and $25,000 once you move in. It goes toward the community like a one-time HOA fee. Some will say it’s to cover preparing an apartment to rent or the grounds around the community. Usually utilities, a meal plan, housekeeping, basic cable, internet, activities and transportation are included in the rent.

Independent living

Today, senior living has become more like 55-and-older campuses, except for the move-out process.

These generally have a year lease. Independent living is similar to a resort, but it has a safety net of caregivers. They also have assisted living and/or memory care on the same campus, if needed.

I have not met anyone who has told me that moving into senior living is on their bucket list. However, most people do say they wish they had done it sooner. Doing it their way! And it’s becoming a more popular option.

Residents often sit around the dining room with their friends, enjoying a glass of wine, laughing, and eating meals prepared by a chef.

Housekeepers keep apartments tidy. Maintenance takes care of tasks while residents are golfing, shopping or exercising. You no longer have to wait for someone to show up.
Most communities even allow pets. You can still travel, just lock your door, and go. Some communities even offer snowbird rentals. It’s your time to enjoy all that life has to offer.

Assisted living

These communities help you or your loved one age with dignity. Assistance is available for activities like medication management, toileting, showering and dressing assistance.

They offer enriching social activities like live entertainment and trips to baseball games, orchestras and plays.

You still get all the items that independent living offers, but care is available to be more successful in life. Transportation is available for outside doctor appointments and grocery shopping.

Health and exercise are important, so some even have heated pools with chair lifts or ramps.

Some offer 24-hour security.

Memory care

Memory care is usually a smaller setting for people with cognitive issues. There are stand-alone memory care communities or memory care neighborhoods on campuses with independent and assisted living communities.

Anyone with memory loss presents a unique challenge. Forgetting someone’s name is considered normal, but forgetting you put your keys in the freezer isn’t. The caregivers in a memory care neighborhood are specifically trained in “directed care.” These caregivers understand and know how to engage your loved one at whatever point they are at in their journey.

They have round-the-clock supervised care. Apartments are clean, comfortable, and private or shared. Housekeeping, maintenance and laundry, linen and other services. They offer easy layouts, a calming, structured environment, stimulating and engaging, purposeful social activities and live entertainment.

Living with family

It has its perks; you get to make more memories with your loved ones. And the price is right — or is it? Let’s be realistic. It’s hard to live with someone. It changes your family dynamic. As care increases, it can remove you from your role — daughter, son, grandchild. Your role is now caregiver.

You are now responsible for care, social events (placing your loved one in front of the TV is not a social event), medical scheduler. Let’s not forget you’re in charge of everything physically, mentally and spiritually.

It can also add stress to your relationship. Adult children caring for their parent(s) tend to treat them like a child.

It’s a fine line that we must stay within to have a healthy, successful relationship. It’s important to keep your loved ones feeling like they are in control.

In-home care agencies

These agencies have nonmedical care staff, usually charging between $25 and $45 per hour and usually have a minimum of a four-hour shift.

They do light housekeeping. They shop for groceries or prep meals. They can drive to appointments and assist with showering, toileting and dressing.

They do not disburse medication, but they can most certainly do medication reminders. This is a great option if you need some additional assistance in whatever you call home.

Residential care homes or board and care homes

These are homes that people have assisted living licensure to be “care” homes. They usually have five to 10 people in the home.

They have private, shared or semi-shared rooms and one to three round-the-clock caregivers. These homes can usually take all levels of seniors who need assistance or have a specific price point. You usually see a higher need-based clientele.

Usually, the care, meals, laundry, activities and housekeeping are included. Some homes charge a community fee. Pricing usually starts around $3,000. Residential care homes are not all created equally. I recommend teaming with me to guide you through these options. I know some fabulous residential care homes.

Buy-in communities

It’s a campus with independent, assisted, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation services. These are very high-end campuses that have separate areas for all the continued care. Entrance fees start at $250,000, then you also pay rent. Prospective residents must be completely independent with no diagnoses — not even diabetes or high cholesterol.
They may require financial records, too. If you end up moving out of a buy-in community, you lose a portion of your initial fee.

Each buy-in community may have different rules, so be sure to read the rules and qualification in detail, as it’s a large investment.

To ask Sheri Simpson a question, email