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Senior Living

One of the biggest stories this year is the fact that the "Baby Boomers" are turning 60. What does this mean for Houstonians? Houston is a young region, with a median age of 32.4, but many of these young workers have parents who are retiring and moving close to their adult children.

As these parents move closer to their children and grow older, the younger generation begins to bear the responsibility for their parents. While some may see this as a daunting experience, it doesn't need to be. The Houston region is home to cutting-edge agencies, facilities and advisors who have practical solutions to today's issues. These dynamic agencies and people can turn a potential problem into a happy family.

Society of Certified Senior Advisors

According to the Society of Certified Senior Advisors, "A Certified Senior Advisor(R) (CSA) is a professional who has received a comprehensive education in the health, financial and social issues facing seniors. CSA candidates must pass a challenging national exam to prove their knowledge of the issues affecting seniors. While most CSAs already have expertise in a professional discipline, it is only after they pass the exam and agree to live up to high ethical and professional standards that they may use the CSA designation.

"The Society of Certified Senior Advisors is the world's largest membership organization that educates and certifies professionals who serve seniors." Founded in 1997, doctors, attorneys, gerontologists, accountants, financial planners and other experts came together because they believed there was a need for standardized education for professionals who work with seniors.

Families in need of a CSA may find them throughout the nation by calling 1-800-653-1785 or on the Internet at www.society-csa.com.

Senior Care Advisors of Texas

Talk about cutting edge. When Liebe Ostrow needed to move her mother-in-law to Houston she faced issues such as finding her the best independent living home, making sure she was intellectually engaged and locating the best doctors. Ostrow saw first hand what many people relocating to Houston see every day.

"It's overwhelming enough when you're young and you move away from your friends. Imagine being in your 80s and trying to make new friends," said Ostrow. "With Mom, we made sure someone stopped by every day. We kept her engaged and helped her to make friends."

Her experience with her own parents and husband's family motivated her to launch a not-for-profit company, Senior Care Advisors of Texas. The agency is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for senior citizens and their families by providing high quality, compassionate and ethical services through its comprehensive circle of social, financial and health-related services.

In her role, she serves as a referral service and counselor for seniors and their children. Need a bridge group? Senior Care can find one. Looking for an attorney to review a parent's will or trust? Or what about long-term care or ideas on housing options? Senior Care can assist you with those needs.

Senior Care Advisors' areas of expertise include:

• travel services;

• care giving;

• health, nutritional and fitness;

• Alzheimer's and dementia;

• chronic illness;

• Medicare and supplements;

• housing;

• assisted living;

• long-term care;

• grief and loss;

• spirituality;

• funeral planning;

• social aspects of aging;

• trends in aging;

• Social Security and taxes; and

• financial and estate planning.

For more information about Senior Care Advisors log on to www.seniorcareadvisorstexas.com or contact them via phone at 713-961-LIFE (5433).

Sheltering Arms

Sheltering Arms Senior Services is a nonprofit, multi-service organization with a long tradition of caring for Houston's seniors. Originally founded by Christ Church Cathedral in 1893 as a residence for elderly women, in the mid-1950s the organization dedicated itself to providing services that enable the elderly to live fuller, more independent lives in their own homes.

Sheltering Arms Senior Services now serves nearly 80,000 seniors and their family caregivers each year with an array of long-term care programs designed to enable seniors to live with dignity and independence. Programs include In-Home Care, which provides light housekeeping, meal preparation and assistance with bathing, eating and other activities of daily living. Home Health Care provides skilled nursing and other health care services. The Sheltering Arms Day Center provides recreation and socialization for those with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory disorders.

Counseling and Care Management provides family caregivers with advice on care options and care planning, and Case Management connects frail, vulnerable seniors to community resources. Lifeline Medical Alert provides 24-hour monitoring for safety or medical emergencies through a waterproof, wearable personal help button. Housing and Energy Management assists low income seniors with utility bills and energy efficiency measures, and Telephone Reassurance provides a daily safety-check phone call for seniors who are alone much of the day.

Sheltering Arms also serves as the lead organization and fiscal agent for Care for Elders, a partnership of more than 85 organizations and individuals whose mission is to improve the care and services provided to vulnerable older adults and family caregivers in Harris County. For more information about Sheltering Arms Senior Services, visit www.shelteringarms.org or call 713-956-1888.

Housing

The housing options for seniors in Houston run the gamut from assisted living facilities to Alzheimer care facilities to resort-style neighborhoods. These communities offer seniors amenities such as golf courses, community centers, fitness facilities, cyber cafes and performing arts theatres. The Buckingham, a senior living community in Houston, even offers its residents a Wall Street Business Center.

Each year Executive Director Pam Cooney, produces the Senior Guidance Directory. This directory is quite extensive and can assist seniors with information about all aspects of senior living. The directory's detailed description of senior housing options is listed below.

Retirement Communities or Independent Living Facilities

These facilities allow seniors to continue to live independently. They may be apartments, townhomes or rooms requiring little or no maintenance. Services vary depending on the type and cost of the facility. The seniors are responsible for their own finances, transportation, meals and health care. Recreational activities are usually offered, maid service may be provided, some meals may be provided in a common room, and the facility may offer transportation to physicians or shopping.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

CCRCs are communities that provide different levels of care depending on the resident's needs. They range from independent living to nursing home care. They also have been dubbed "lifecare" because residents may move from one level of service to the next without leaving the facility.

Assisted Living Facilities

These housing options combine a level of independent living with some assistance for personal care. They provide care to residents who cannot live alone, but do not need 24-hour nursing care. Assisted living communities offer residents the privacy of their own bedroom, often with a small kitchen. Most offer meals in a community dining room, snacks, laundry services, housekeeping and assistance with personal needs such as bathing, dressing or medication supervision.

These facilities are not designed for people who need serious medical care, but there are some facilities for people with Alzheimer's, dementia and memory loss.

Residential Care Homes (Personal Care Homes)

These group living facilities, usually single-family homes, are designed to meet the needs of people who cannot live independently, but do not need nursing homes. These homes provide some type of assistance with daily living activities including eating, walking and bathing. Some homes provide skilled nursing, rehabilitative services or specialized care for illnesses such as Alzheimer's.

Skilled-Care Facilities

These facilities are designed for people who need nursing care due to illness, or physical or mental disabilities. These facilities accept seniors for both short-term and long-term stays and have registered nurses on duty 24-hours each day.

For more detailed information on Houston's senior community, log on to the Senior Guidance Directory at www.srguidance.org or call 713-529-9991. The online version has a specific listing of different housing facilities by location and offers information in all major categories that effect senior living. Also the Senior Guidance Directory is available at all Walgreens in the pharmacy department.

Leisure Activities and Travel

With such a sunny climate, numerous airports, excellent theaters and a diverse mix of activities, seniors can be as active as they'd like. Seniors can join tours to travel to exotic places or volunteer at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. They can enjoy ballroom dancing, bird watching in Galveston or take in a Texans game. Houston truly has something for every senior.

The Houston region also has numerous neighborhood recreation centers. From the YMCA to the Fort Bend Senior Centers, these recreation centers offer engaging activities and in many cases senior fitness programs.

Other Resources

At the state level, Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (Texas DADS) offers residents help and information on services ranging from nursing home licensing to VA funding for seniors and widows. For more information contact the DADS office in Houston at 713-692-1635.

Locally, Harris County offers services through the Housing Resource Center (HRC). HRC helps residents work through housing issues to find the best possible solution. For more information on HRC visit its Web site at www.hrc.hctx.net or call 713-578-2055.

The Houston region is a wonderful place to retire, full of exciting activities and events. And Houstonians want their seniors' "golden years" to be golden. With the different services and organizations throughout the region, they can be—platinum.



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