Retirement and Active Adult Living
With three military installations in San Antonio, you’ll find many active retirees enjoying life here. It attracts many others as well thanks to a compelling package of amenities. Most importantly is its location, which is part of the beautiful Hill Country. Within easy access to San Antonio, there are many quaint communities including Boerne, New Braunfels and Canyon Lake that offer affordable living options with scenic views and plenty of activities.

In 2008, SmartMoney magazine ranked San Antonio as one of the best places to retire, especially during a down economy. Earlier this year, San Antonio was ranked as the strongest metropolitan area in the country for economic performance, according to the Brookings Institution. Over time, the region has expanded beyond its reliance on tourism and the military to include high-growth industries, such as health care, biotech, education, business and IT services. Companies are moving to the area thanks to the state’s pro-business attitude and the absence of state taxes. In addition, the area’s real estate market did not feel the effects of sub-prime lending defaults as in other U.S. cities. The current median price of an existing single family home is $152,200 and newcomers can also expect to find a wide variety of retirement living options.

Other factors important to seniors include access to quality health care, which is plentiful in San Antonio. The region supports the South Texas Medical Center that is home to San Antonio’s finest medical facilities. Continuing education is readily available throughout the region with a choice of five community colleges and a range of private and public universities from which to choose. If traveling is a priority, you’ll be pleased to know that the San Antonio International Airport handles 260 daily domestic and international departures and arrivals. Its central location also makes it convenient to most neighborhoods.

Staying active is a major priority for retirees and San Antonio, with its moderate year-round temperatures, fits the bill perfectly. For golf lovers, there are more than 40 courses and practice greens, and two Tournament Players Club courses opened on January 22, 2010. San Antonio hosts a PGA tour event and the 50-and-older Champions Tour AT&T championship. Parks and green spaces are plentiful for walking, biking and hiking and for those who enjoy water sports, there are many lakes and rivers.

For newcomers, it doesn’t take long to make friends and share interests. There are many opportunities to enjoy the sights and sounds of the region, including organized visits to museums, local theater and concert venues. If volunteering is of interest to you, there are plenty of organizations that will welcome your participation, and there are agencies to help you find a job. With so many tourist attractions in the city and nearby, there is always something fun (and oftentimes free) to do in the Alamo City.

To support the needs of an aging population, numerous San Antonio organizations are assisting seniors with delivery of daily meals, transportation, social programs, guardianship services, advocacy for nursing home residents and respite care for Alzheimer’s care-givers. Agencies providing these services include the American Red Cross, Area Agency on Aging, Meals on Wheels, Senior Companion Program, Visiting Nurse Association, Greater Randolph Area Services Program and the Parks and Community Services Department.

Senior Living Communities and Independent Living Communities
Independent and senior living communities are places for seniors to retire where they can continue to live independently, yet don’t have to worry about a home or its upkeep. These places should provide a safe and comfortable setting as well as provide an opportunity in which to make new friends in the same age range who share the same interests.

After making the decision to live in a retirement community, how do you select the right facility that meets your needs? First ask your friends and your doctor for recommendations. In addition, consult this relocation directory and its companion website at www.RelocatingToSanAntonio.org.

Living options may be apartments, townhomes or rooms requiring little or no maintenance. Experts suggest that whichever type of housing is preferred, it’s important to see available apartments and, if they have don’t have an availability or do not have the type of facility requested, find out about getting on the waiting list and also determine the length of the expected wait. When visiting and interviewing at retirement communities, shop around. Make several visits at different times.

Services offered can vary depending on the type and cost of the facility. In independent living communities, 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. People interested in this type of facility should be healthy, able to communicate with independent health care professionals without the help of on-site staff and must desire an active community environment.

It’s important that a facility under consideration be close to your services, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals, grocery stores and favorite shopping places. Identify what amenities are important to you, such as an onsite beauty shop, a store in which to buy items before you can get to a store, transportation for doctor appointments, shopping, cultural events, church and social outings. Review the facility’s activity calendar to see what it offers and ask the marketing director or the activity director about programs. Don’t hesitate to ask other residents how long they have lived in the community and how they would rate it.

Due to the wide array of choice available to San Antonio seniors, retirement communities are very competitive, which is a plus for consumers because they can shop around to ensure the right one matches their lifestyle.

Before making a selection, review this checklist:
  • Word-of-mouth referrals from friends, relatives or professional contacts are important.
  • Once a community is selected, visit the location several times at different times of the day.
  • Ask the managing directors how long they have been in operation and who owns them.
  • Find out about the activities and services offered, including:
– Beauty shop
– Pool
– Spa
– Activity Calendar offerings

There are many advantages for seniors who live in the San Antonio region. The year-round temperate climate provides opportunities for many outdoor activities, such as swimming, hiking, walking and golfing. As the third largest airport in the world in 2008 in terms of passenger activity, DFW Airport is served by 20 international and domestic airlines and offers nonstop service to more than 173 worldwide destinations. For newcomers, it doesn’t take long to make friends and share interests. There are many opportunities to enjoy the sights and sounds of the region, including organized visits to museums, local theater and concert venues. If volunteering is of interest to you, there are plenty of organizations that are interested in your participation, and there are agencies to help you find a job.

To support the needs of an aging population, there are local and specialized resources, including AARP. Anyone who is over 50 can join, and you don’t have to be retired. The organization offers many services and opportunities for community involvement, including volunteering. You can learn more by visiting the national website at www.aarp.org.

Serving the needs of San Antonio’s 50 and older population, OASIS has been part of the community for more than 17 years. Members participate in a variety of challenging programs that enrich the mind, renew past interests and develop new talents. Classes range from arts and humanities to consumer interest, fitness and health. You can also volunteer your services where you can share your skills, help others in the aging community and tutor children who are learning to read. Learn more at www.oasisnet.org or by calling (210) 647-2546.

55Plus is a free program from Methodist Healthcare System (www.mhshealth.com) that provides benefits for people over 55, including free exercise classes, health screenings, CPR, free physician referral, social activities and educational programs. If the need arises, you’re also entitled to a 10 percent discount at the Methodist Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy at time of discharge, complimentary guests meal (one coupon to use per day per family), complimentary transportation for inpatient admissions, homemaker services after inpatient discharge from a Methodist Healthcare System facility and other services. Call (210) 575-0355 to learn more.

Nix Health Care Foundation sponsors Nix Senior Gold. Designed in partnership with physicians, it is a senior health and wellness program for adults from age 55. Benefits of the program include health care discounts, discounts in the Nix cafeteria and with Nix valet parking, hospitalization benefits, preventive health services, and educational and informative programs. Referrals for physicians and specialized services are also available. Visit the website at www.nixhealth.com/SeniorGold or call (210) 579-3157.

The University Health System – Bob Ross Senior Health Center offers healthcare community resources to seniors including health screenings and disease self-management classes. The center offers free health screenings including blood pressure, Body Mass Index (BMI)/weight, glucose (blood sugar), cholesterol, glaucoma and hearing. Classes offered include salsa caliente, smoking cessation, fitness, water aerobics, fall prevention and CPR. Seniors can also participate at health fairs that are periodically available. The Bob Ross Senior Health Center is also a “one-stop” clearinghouse for senior services and information and is owned and operated by the city of San Antonio and Bexar County. The 24,000 square-foot center hosts comprehensive services to seniors 60+, focusing on case management, health and wellness, education, exercise, social and cultural activities and volunteer opportunities. In San Antonio, the center is located at 2219 Babcock, (210) 207-5332.

The city of San Antonio’s Parks and Recreation Department – Programs for Seniors Programming are offered at three facilities: Commander’s House, Lion’s Field Adult and Senior Citizen’s Center and Granados Adult and Senior Activity Center. Visit www.sanantonio.gov/sapar/seniors.asp to learn more.

Alamo Area Agency on Aging provides aging services directly or through others for congregate, home delivered meals, transportation, information and referral, benefits counseling, ombudsman and care coordination services. Visit www.alamoaging.org or call (210) 362-5200.

Many Americans are moving into their retirement years while also tending to the care of a parent or elderly relative. As a caregiver it is important to understand what options are available for your loved one especially if you are the primary decision-maker for them. There are a number of lifestyle choices depending on the person’s physical condition and the level of care required to live comfortably. In the San Antonio region, the housing options run the gamut from assisted living facilities to Alzheimer care facilities to resort-style neighborhoods. These facilities offer accommodations that provide a dignified standard of living while professionals oversee the residents’ well-being.

— Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)
Continuing Care Retirement Communities allow seniors to “age in place,” with flexible accommodations that are designed to meet their health and housing needs as these needs change over time. Residents entering Continuing Care Retirement Communities sign a long-term contract that provides for housing, services and nursing care, usually all in one location, enabling seniors to remain in a familiar setting as they grow older.

Many seniors enter into a Continuing Care Retirement Communities’ contract while they are healthy and active, knowing they will be able to stay in the same community and receive nursing care should this become necessary. When a senior who is in good health signs a Continuing Care Retirement Community contract, he or she may expect to pay lower fees.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities provide services and facilities that allow access to independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Seniors who are independent may live in a single-family home, apartment or condominium within the Continuing Care retirement complex. If they begin to need help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and eating, they may be transferred to an assisted living or skilled nursing facility on the same site. Seniors who live in this setting can be assured their long-term care needs will be met and will not have to relocate.

Any elder (single or partnered) can be a good candidate for a Continuing Care Retirement Community. These include people who are independent, healthy and able to care for themselves; need some assistance with daily living; require skilled nursing care; want the security of living in a seniors-only community; no longer want (or are unable) to maintain a house; prefer to live among their peers; and who have enough money to pay the Continuing Care Retirement Community fees.

Seniors who live in Continuing Care Retirement Communities can select a service plan to suit their needs, abilities and preferences. Typical assisted living services include recreational, social and educational activities; transportation, emergency help, housekeeping, meals, assistance with daily living and personal assistance.

— 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.

When looking for an assisted living facility, experts say it’s important to find a quality one. Make an appointment to visit the managing director or director of the assisted living facility. At that time, be sure the RN is present at the meeting and be sure to obtain a disclosure statement that will tell you all the things the community can and will do for you. Ask about the facility’s levels of care provided and costs at each level. Ask if you can speak with other residents and ask questions of them to determine if they’re comfortable and well treated. Consider eating a meal in the facility, as food plays a big part in the residents’ lives.

Assisted living residents can be young or old, affluent or low income, frail or disabled. A typical resident in an Assisted Living Facility is a widowed or single woman in her 80s. Residents may suffer from memory disorders, or simply need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges. Assisted living is appropriate for anyone who can no longer manage to live on their own but doesn’t require medical care.

Once a decision about a community has been made, review everything and ask questions if you do not understand. Ensure everything is spelled out and clear. If you don’t feel good about the place, it’s probably not the best option. Pay close attention to what is going on and how you feel.

— 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 Nursing Facilities
A Skilled Nursing Facility is staffed by registered nurses who help provide 24-hour care to people who can no longer care for themselves due to physical, emotional or mental conditions. A licensed physician supervises each patient’s care and a nurse or other medical professional is almost always on the premises. Most nursing homes have two basic types of services: skilled medical care and custodial care.

Skilled medical care includes services of trained professionals that are needed for a limited period of time following an injury or illness. Skilled care may also be needed on a long term basis if a resident requires injections, ventilation or other treatment. Custodial or personal care includes assistance with what are known as the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, grooming, getting in and out of bed or walking around.

People who are able to recover from a disabling injury or illness, may temporarily need the custodial care as they are getting back the strength and balance to be independent again. For people who are losing their ability to function independently due to chronic disease and increasing frailty, custodial care may be a long-term need.

In the most severe cases where a person is bed-bound, ongoing supervision by an RN is necessary along with the custodial care, to ensure proper hydration and nutrition and to prevent skin breakdown. If a custodial care resident becomes ill or injured, they may spend a period of time in skilled care, and then return to custodial care. Whether a resident is under skilled or custodial care is important in terms of who provides the care and who pays for the services provided.

— Memory Care Communities
Alzheimer’s care communities are special units or free-standing communities designed to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s, which is a degenerative disease that attacks the brain, impairing one’s memory, mental processing ability and behavior. Special on-site care is provided to residents 24-hours a day. While these communities are for early-stage Alzheimer’s patients, alternative senior assisted care centers may be appropriate for residents. Long-term insurance or personal monies usually fund the care in these communities.

In order to best match a senior’s needs with his preferences, there are numerous factors to weigh in making a decision about care.
  • Temporary versus long term care: An older person may go to a nursing home for rehab following a surgery or stroke, then return home. In other circumstances, a senior’s needs are better served by planning a move into a situation that is likely to remain the same for the many years to come.
  • Independence: Can the senior live alone, and more importantly, does he/she want to? Or would living in a more service-oriented environment be more nurturing?
  • Privacy: If the senior’s desire for privacy is important, independent living, assisted living or a Continuing Care Retirement Community would be preferable to a nursing home.
  • Needs for personal care: How much and what kinds of personal or “custodial care” are needed or desired? There are online needs assessment questionnaires to help determine this and then match the care needs with the right type of housing.
  • Needs for medical care: If the senior has a chronic illness that necessitates special medical care, or ongoing services of medical professionals, independent living and even assisted living may not be suitable.
  • Costs: Learn about the financial aspects of senior housing to determine what options are affordable for you. Certain options may be unaffordable, such as Continuing Care Retirement Communities.

In making any housing selection for yourself or a loved one, ask your doctor or your attorney to review the contract, especially if you feel uneasy signing it. However, there are many residents who make the decision on their own and don’t feel the need to ask anyone else.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is also charged with managing community-based programs that prevent delinquency, abuse, neglect and exploitation of Texas children, elderly and disabled adults. The agency's services are provided through its Adult Protective Services, Child Protective Services, Child Care Licensing and Prevention and Early Intervention divisions. Every day, almost 6,800 DFPS employees in more than 249 offices across the state protect the physical safety and emotional well-being of the most vulnerable citizens of Texas.

Adult Protective Services (APS) Facility Investigations – APS investigates allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation in facilities that care for adults including: private homes, adult foster homes (with 3 or fewer consumers), unlicensed room and board, state facilities and community centers that provide mental health and mental retardation services, home health agency staff, exploitation in nursing homes when the alleged perpetrator is someone outside the facility.

Abuse Hotline for APS Facility Investigations: 1-800-647-7418

Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) – Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, private ICF/MR, adult day care. For complaints (reports of abuse), call 1-800-458-9858 and Nursing Home Information: 1-800-252-8016

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) – Hospitals, psychiatric hospitals (including private psychiatric facilities), and various other medical facilities. Complaints: 1-888-973-0022

Texas Council on Family Violence, Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

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