However, student loans may not be enough to cover the true cost of going to college. On top of tuition, students are responsible for buying textbooks, supplies, meals, housing, and, of course, handling their own entertainment budgets. These costs may encourage many students to consider getting a job while in college.
Some facilities are trying to solve this problem by taking a different approach: Instead of multi-story buildings where residents share rooms along long, bleak corridors—facilities that resemble hospitals at worst and corporate hotel chains at best—these alternative facilities try to create a homelike environment where no more than a dozen residents live in real houses with private rooms and en suite bathrooms.
Motivated by memories of the depressing facilities his grandparents and other relatives endured, Norris is working to develop more Green House homes across the country.
The buildings are often designed to have private rooms and bathrooms, cozy living rooms where residents can gather with each other or with visitors to socialize, and a more residential feel overall. The rooms let in plenty of sunlight and offer easy access to outdoor areas and gardens.
Residents can set their own schedules for when they want to wake up, eat meals and go to bed. A low ratio of residents to staff in residential care homes means staff are more likely to notice problems early, when they are small, and help patients get treatment before those problems become serious.
Such facilities can more easily cater to these needs than a large facility can. Limited Amenities One potential drawback of smaller facilities is they may offer fewer amenities and activities. Also, while a resident might be able to have an entire apartment in a traditional assisted living facility or continuing care communityhe or she might have a smaller personal space in a residential care home.
For related reading, see: Some residential care homes may offer primarily companionship and comfort, and are less well-equipped to handle intensive medical tasks such as tube feeding, wound care or medication management.
Some Green House Project homes offer a continuum of care, making it possible to go from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing. Limited Availability Large, traditional facilities dominate the market; small, alternative models can be hard to find. That can be tough if having a home in close to or convenient for relatives, is a priority.
Scientific Data At first glance, the small-home model seems to offer the elderly a much better life than the institutional norm. Unfortunately, as so often happens, there's little empirical data to back that up. Academic studies published in and found that Green House residents were able to take care of themselves for longer in their lives compared with traditional nursing home residents.
They were also less likely to be depressed and their families were more satisfied with the facilities and care their loved ones received. And a small study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a major source of financial support for the Green House Project, found that Green House residents were less likely to be hospitalized than nursing home residents.
Small Community Residential care homes offer the opportunity for close relationships with staff and other residents, since residents see the same few people every day. The small community also might not offer enough variety for extroverts who enjoy interacting with lots of people.
The Bottom Line For seniors who are no longer able to live at home but who want to avoid an institutional setting, the homey alternatives to traditional nursing homes can appear to have much to offer, with few drawbacks.
Where else should you look for options, especially if there isn't a Green House near you? One tool is SeniorAdvisor. Some of your search results will be for large facilities, but you can easily scroll through to find the small ones, then read reviews including for Green House homessee photos and check out prices.
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