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Legal Issues
Dec 15, 2017

As Options Increase for Senior Housing, Rely on a Geriatric Care Manager

Sponsored Content provided by Kara Gansmann - Attorney, Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP

With more than 40 million Americans age 65 or older, seniors comprise the fastest growing segment of the country’s population. 
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by the year 2050, there will be 86.7 million seniors older than 65. As these seniors age, their needs for living accommodations will also change. Geriatric Care Managers can help families as they navigate with the available options.
Here’s a rundown of the growing options available for senior housing:
Age at home: Under the right circumstances, seniors may be able to age at home. Many seniors are physically and financially capable of remaining in their homes, which is the choice most seniors prefer.  This choice makes a lot of sense especially if the home is paid for and the senior can afford any in-home care. 
In some circumstances, a Geriatric Care Manager can assess the layout of a home and whether the home can be retrofitted to suit a senior’s needs.  For example, bathrooms may need to be updated for handicapped access or doors need to be widened to accommodate wheelchairs.
Geriatric Care Managers have working knowledge of how a senior’s home arrangements can fit the senior’s physical needs.  The Geriatric Care Manager can work with seniors and their families to ensure the senior can continue living at home.
Retirement communities: These senior communities for adults aged 55+ are relatively new to the senior living landscape. These communities are targeted at active, independent seniors who are in or near retirement, and often offer luxurious, low-maintenance housing that is privately or corporately owned and operated.
In recent news, Jimmy Buffet announced plans for a Florida-based retirement community, Latitude Margaritaville, for Parrotheads “55 and better.” 
As the senior population explodes, you can expect to see more niche communities like this pop up across the country. Residents of these communities do not need assistance from a Geriatric Care Manager unless their needs change.
Independent living communities: Comparatively speaking, independent living communities have more mature residents compared to the “age 55+” communities. Independent living communities are for seniors who do not need assistance with activities of daily living. Often these communities are geared for seniors who seek socialization and less maintenance of home-ownership.
Assisted living communities: Assisted living is a long-term care option intended to help aging adults who need some assistance with daily activities like bathing, eating or medication management. Certain facilities offer special memory care units designed for individuals with mild to moderate dementia. 
Care is provided 24-hours each day on a scheduled or as-needed basis. Assisted living communities do not provide intensive hands-on care for adults with serious physical or mental impairments. Because assisted living communities are in such high demand, a Geriatric Care Manager can assist families with placement. 
The Geriatric Care Manager also understands the types of benefits available to help families defray the rising costs associated with this kind of care. Often assisted living communities allow residents to transition to the next level of care.
Skilled nursing care facilities: These facilities may offer short-term rehabilitation for people with short-term care needs. Some may also offer long-term care. In both cases, the facilities will offer hospital-like services with skilled nursing care and medical supervision. The care provided is focused on maintenance rather than curative care. These residents are no longer capable of living independently.
A Geriatric Care Manager can assist families with placement that meets the family’s needs, including personal goals, geographic locale, and financial objectives for the permanent, long-term care.
While the options, at times, can be overwhelming for families, advanced planning with an elder law attorney and help from a Geriatric Care Manager will alleviate much of the stress.

Kara Gansmann is an attorney in the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP, where her practice encompasses elder law and estate planning. Kara advises individuals and families with estate planning needs and asset protection tactics. In this role, she strategizes with clients to preserve assets for long-term care and to leave legacy gifts to family members. Kara works with elderly clients in need of Medicaid crisis planning and Medicaid applications. As part of her practice, Kara drafts wills, trusts and powers of attorney. In the courtroom, Kara represents clients in the administration of estates, guardianship/incompetency proceedings, and guardianship administration. Kara also litigates estate and trust matters, including will caveats, the modification or termination of trusts, and litigation arising from estate documents or fiduciary roles. She is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association Elder Law and Special Needs Section and serves as co-chair of the CLE Committee for that section.  Kara also serves as a liaison between the North Carolina Bar Association Elder Law and Special Needs Section and the North Carolina Bar Association Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section.

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