What You Need to Know About Your Right to Privacy in Senior Living

right to privacy

Over 835,000 Americans currently live in some form of senior living communities. Even so, many still live alone in their homes.

Many relatives start to worry about the safety of their much-loved seniors. The elderly person may not share those concerns. They are unhappy to leave their own home and give up their right to privacy.

It may be good for someone, perhaps a trained social worker, to chat with key members of the family and the person concerned. They should not feel bulldozed into this major decision.

One concern is often leaving a beloved safe haven of many memories. Another can be one of many ill-founded myths. Let’s take a look at some of these issues. 

Myths Relating to Retirement Villages

There are so many stories floating around concerning senior accommodation and facilities. Most can be debunked if they are closely examined. 

You Give Up All Rights to Independence  

Not true! The concept of retirement villages is one that is growing in popularity and demand. These housing communities are often individual homes or apartments where the residents enjoy complete freedom.

They are able to follow their own interests and passions. Residents can come and go as they wish, often with remotes that provide access at all times.

The community often offers various entertainment and educational programs especially geared for seniors. Their times are convenient to the older person’s timetable and prevent the need for night travel.

You Leave Behind All Your Memories

Memories are not contained in buildings. They are lodged in your minds, and as long as those are sharp, your memories will remain. 

Residents can take favorite items of furniture, special framed photographs, photo albums, and any items of personal value.

They Are Expensive

This is a common misconception. However, compared with the cost of owning your own house where you have to pay property tax and all your maintenance needs, the retirement residence looks a lot more affordable!

They Are Depressing

Whoever thinks this way has never lived in one! Many offer a vast assortment of activities such as golf, fitness classes, table tennis, gardening clubs, and much more—all without needing to get into the car!

Residents can interact with people of their own age group with similar interests. During Covid lockdown facilities, these were an ideal place to live when family members were unable to visit.

They Are All Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are for the sick. The majority of seniors are not sick and do not require nursing.

Most retirement facilities have special arrangements to care for any of their residents who become ill or are unable to get around freely.

They Are Really Old Age Homes

This is usually a misnomer. Couples living in a retirement complex are as independent as they wish. We will discuss old-age homes below. 

Before we move on, how about taking a virtual tour of the facilities available at the Mari De Villa facility? Although situated in the St. Louis Region, it serves as an example of many such centers across the globe.

Perks of Nursing Homes and Old Age Homes

The difference between these two is clear. The first is for senior folk in need of nursing and medical care beyond what can be given by an at-home carer. The other is for elderly persons who are not ill but are no longer able to care for themselves.

Their needs are similar. They may still be able to have a private room, or they may share a room with another person in a similar situation. Either way, they are still entitled to certain rights, depending on their conditions. 

Residents must be able to understand suggested treatments and refuse them if they wish. They should also have the opportunity to enjoy a suitable roommate.

Where they are free to enjoy various activities, these are optional. They are also free to have visitors.

The residence must also provide them with their own space for storing their personal belongings. Provided they are capable, residents should be free to handle their own money.

Meals should be served meals in a companionable dining room. Where they need assistance with eating, this should be in the privacy of their own rooms.

The Right to Privacy in Senior Communities

Where residents live in their own cottages or apartments, they will have their own kitchen and dining facilities. The only time staff members may visit will be to attend to needs or maintenance issues.

If needed, a nurse or other helper may call daily to assist with medication or other personal-care tasks. 

There are usually daily arrangements to check on the health of the resident. This may be daily contact with a staff member. And of course, the resident may have a home-help to clean the home.

Residents who have to move to an assisted living facility, are entitled to adequate care. Staff training and resources provided will vary according to country or state. The family needs to investigate these when helping their loved ones make their decision.

All residents of any facility are still entitled to their individual rights, provided they do not endanger others. In order to preserve privacy in senior living conditions, medical and other records should be kept totally confidential at all times, except if required by law.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

In the United States, these privacy agreements are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, aka HIPAA. This act came into being in 1996, and although it started in the States, the principle is being implemented in countries across the globe.

This act does have some problems. For example, information concerning the patient’s treatment or condition may only be shared with another healthcare worker with the consent of the person concerned. This can lead to the deterioration of the patient, and may not even be possible given their condition.

However, not all assisted living and retirement communities are required to follow HIPAA compliance. They are, however, still obliged to maintain all efforts for privacy. 

Residents must always have the right to communicate with others via mail or phone. And facilities are not allowed to make use of physical forms of restraint. 

Have a Look Around

We hope this article has served to set your mind at rest in regards to the right to privacy in all forms of senior living communities.

Whatever your decision for you or your loved one, we wish you every happiness. Why not pay us a visit, and we’ll schedule you a tour.