Senior Housing Transitions Can Lead to Stigma and Isolation

In senior housing facilities where residents are required to relocate as health issues worsen, seniors tend to isolate themselves and may hide health conditions out of fear of relocation, according to a new study. Transitioning from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing in one place can be disruptive and stressful, as researchers have known for 30 years, the authors write in The Gerontologist. “Our sample is primarily white, mostly private pay,” but this type of multilevel housing is found across the U.S., said lead author Erin G. Roth of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Stigma is common in these settings, Roth said. The researchers considered two National Institute on Aging-funded studies of various housing options, including continuing care retirement communities and dementia care units where multiple levels of care are available within a campus or building. In total, they used 470 interviews with 367 residents, family, staff and administrators at seven facilities. In every facility, the unit with the highest level of care was stigmatized, with residents referring to it with names like “The Twilight Zone,” “The Dark Side,” “Death Valley,” “Sleepy Hollow,” or “God’s waiting room.”

Source/more: Reuters Health

David Wingate is an elder law and estate planning attorney in Frederick and Montgomery, Counties, Maryland. The law practice consists of wills, power of attorneys, trusts, Medicaid and asset protection.

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