What happens when a senior’s health changes after moving to assisted living?

Navigating the “what-ifs” of senior living. Plus, see real stories of how Sunnyside Manor residents stay well in our continuum of care community.

A move to senior living is the right choice for many seniors and their families because of the opportunities for independence, support, new friends, and peace of mind. Yet, even when senior living is the right answer, there are “what-ifs”: What if your loved one’s condition changes after the move? What if there is an unexpected health event?

Those “what-ifs” are why many families choose a senior living community with a continuum of care. Read on to learn about how a continuum of care helps with uncertainty, and hear from Sunnyside Manor residents about their experiences.* Plus, we’ll address the biggest myth about senior living.

What Is a Continuum of Care?

Just like no two seniors or families are the same, there is no “one-size-fits-all” for senior health. That’s why there are senior living communities with different types of care on one campus, known as a continuum of care.

A continuum of care might include assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. (Learn more: What’s the difference between skilled nursing and assisted living? Or assisted living and memory care?)

The Myth About Senior Living

One of the biggest myths about caring for seniors is that health needs move in a straight line: seniors move into assisted living (or memory care assisted living), then as they need more care they move to skilled nursing.

The reality is very different. Sometimes seniors need more support and sometimes they need less. Assisted living and skilled nursing work together to keep seniors as independent as possible for as long as possible. Often, skilled nursing is a short-term support to help with recovery from illness or surgery so that seniors can return to their assisted living apartments.

How to Use a Continuum of Care: Real Stories

A continuum of care answers many of the “what ifs” that come with caring for a senior loved one. Some of the most common “what ifs” are:

  • What if someone in assisted living gets sick and needs more care?
  • What if someone only needs skilled nursing care for a little while?
  • What if someone moves into skilled nursing first? Can they move to assisted living later?

What happens when someone in assisted living gets sick? What if they need more care?

image of phyllis p.

Phyllis P.

When a routine illness calls for a little extra TLC, assisted living staff are always just around the corner to help. But, sometimes recovery requires the kind of medical supervision found in skilled nursing and rehabilitation.

For example, Phyllis P.,* who has lived in Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living at Sunnyside Manor for four years, had a health event recently with a week-long hospital stay. Hospital stays can be especially difficult for seniors. Her treatment was successful, but sapped her strength, and she required more assistance and support at the end of her stay. She chose to regain her strength in the Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation neighborhood back at Sunnyside Manor.

Phyllis says, “It’s not just the wonderful services of the care and rehab staff… You get to still see your favorite people that are familiar to you. It’s as if Sunnyside is one big family. I feel like I am home here.”

image of Mary V.

Mary V.

Health setbacks can be alarming, both for seniors and their families. Mary V. found that making use of the Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation services at Sunnyside Manor after a health setback helped reduce her fear about the healing process. “Being able to see familiar faces made it less scary. I was able to have conversations, meals, and do activities with my friends.”

What if someone only needs skilled nursing for a little while?

One of the common myths about skilled nursing care is that it is only for long-term care. While some conditions do require long-term medical supervision, skilled nursing and rehabilitation also can be for short-term supportive care.

image of Midge S.

Midge S.

Short term skilled nursing care may be a one time need or a regular part of staying healthy. Midge S., who lives in Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living at Sunnyside Manor, has a condition that required multiple hospital stays over a year and half. Each time, she returned to Sunnyside Manor’s Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation first to regain her strength and benefit from more intensive medical care. Then she returned to her assisted living apartment.

When a skilled nursing and rehabilitation neighborhood is right on campus, there is one less decision to make for seniors and their families. And, coming back to a familiar place also makes healing easier. Midge says, “My experience wasn’t just about the determination of the staff to help me get better, it was also special that the many friends I made in assisted living could come visit me to wish me well.”   

What if someone moves into skilled nursing first? Can they move to assisted living later?

The goal in senior living is always for seniors to be as independent and healthy as possible for as long as possible. For some seniors, having more care in skilled nursing and rehabilitation can help them become more independent for the long term.

image of Brian M

Brian M.

Sunnyside Manor resident Brian M. moved to Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation to be near his children and receive care after a serious diagnosis. Meanwhile, his spouse coordinated the rest of the couple’s move from North Carolina. With hard work from Brian and the team at Sunnyside Manor, his condition improved. He got stronger and healthier (even regaining his ability to walk) and eventually moved to Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living, where he has resided for over three years.

He recounts, “The Skilled Nursing Neighborhood is a home-like atmosphere. Because of this nurturing environment, I began to regain a positive attitude and find the desire to beat the circumstances I had been in.” For his family, “It is a relief to know all needs have the potential to be met under one roof. Sunnyside Manor is the best around.”

Not every senior will need every service offered in a continuum care, but nearly every senior will need something different at some point. While it is impossible to foresee every possible health change that a loved one may experience, it helps to have the facts and know what’s available. Assisted living and skilled nursing and rehabilitation work together to keep seniors as independent as possible and answer the many what-ifs seniors and their families have when making the move to a senior living community.

Learn More About Why Families Rely On Sunnyside Manor

When you have questions about senior living, we are here to help. Sunnyside Manor offers assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Learn more about Sunnyside Manor’s resources for caregivers. Whether you’re looking for short-term support or a longer-term plan, begin with our “Getting Started” guide. Please call us at 888-696-2052 to speak with a senior living expert.

Sunnyside Manor, located in Wall NJ, is the area’s premier family-owned senior living community. The community features three distinctive neighborhoods: Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living, Recollections Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation.

*All stories and photos shared with permission. 

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