Elderly Woman With a Caregiver in a Non-Restrictive EnvironmentWhen a loved one has reached the point where they can no longer live alone, you want them to be safe, but you also want them to be happy and to feel like they still have their independence. In elder care, we call this finding the least restrictive environment or LRE. This “just right” approach to senior living not only ensures that your loved one is safe and, hopefully, happy, but it can also ward off dementia and help them live longer.

What Is My Loved One’s Least Restrictive Environment?

An elderly person’s living arrangement can range from complete independence in their own home to being confined to a bed in a nursing home. Where your loved one falls on this continuum will depend on their individual needs and capabilities. The LRE for one person will not be the same as it is for another person. The hope is to find the environment that allows the most freedom possible given the individual’s medical and cognitive issues.

Of course, your loved one’s needs are going to change over time—possibly quite quickly as they get older—so the ideal environment will also change. However, it can be very harmful to place a senior in an overly restrictive setting before they need it just because you are anticipating future needs. Limiting freedom, autonomy, independence, and social interactions before it’s really necessary can shave years of contentment off an older person’s life. In fact, some studies have shown that isolation and dependence can speed up the progression of dementia and shorten one’s lifespan.

What Options Are Available for Senior Living in Texas?

Staying in their own home is a viable option for many people. In fact, it is the only option for some people with limited financial resources. With help from family members or paid in-home caregivers, some seniors do quite well remaining in their own homes until they need the highest level of care.

If this is not a realistic choice, there are a few basic options when it comes to care facilities for the elderly. Within each option, there are levels of support and care available to meet an individual’s needs. Senior housing options include:

  • Senior communities. These neighborhoods offer complete independent living but often have some services that support seniors who might need a little help, such as meals, social activities, laundry services, and transportation to shopping or medical appointments.
  • Assisted living. In an assisted living facility, residents have many of the benefits of a senior community, with the addition of some nursing care and help with medication, personal care, wellness checks, and housekeeping.
  • Nursing homes. When around-the-clock care is needed, a nursing home might be the LRE for an individual. However, a good facility will allow as much freedom as possible for individuals who can still manage some autonomy.
  • Continuing care facilities. An ideal option for almost anyone, these communities offer a range of environments, from standalone condos to restrictive memory care units. As your loved one declines, either physically or cognitively, they can step up to the next level of care. It is also a great option for couples who do not require the same level of care. They can each be in the LRE for them.

Not all of these types of facilities are available in every community. They can also be very expensive, and other than nursing homes, many of them do not accept Medicaid patients. However, no matter what options are available for your loved one, the goal remains the same: to find the least restrictive environment to keep them safe and meet their needs. Mental wellness is strongly connected to physical wellness, so the more independent, active, and engaged your loved one is, the longer they will live and the happier they will be.

Are You Looking for an Elder Law Attorney in Texarkana, TX?

If you are looking for advice about senior housing options, an experienced Elder Law attorney can help. Contact us online or call our Texarkana office directly at 903.223.5653. We also have offices in Tyler, Paris, and Longview, as well as Magnolia, AR!


Brad Crayne
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Brad Crayne helps clients in TX and AR with estate planning, asset protection, probate, and medicaid planning.