Know your why.
As important as it is to know what senior living communities are, it’s even more important to know why they’re attractive to residents and their families, many of whom might embrace the idea of aging in place were it not for some very legitimate concerns.
The following are some of common reasons that parents and their adult children turn to senior living communities; before you sit down with your parents, ask yourself which ones resonate with you, and which ones might resonate with Mom and Dad.
Although your parents may wish to age in place, doing so can come with significant risks—including falls, which are the leading cause of injury among adults 65 and older thanks to their limited mobility, decreased eyesight and increased fragility. For older adults, even minor falls sustained doing routine household chores can have major implications, including broken bones and fractures, head injuries, permanent disability and even death.
Why Senior Living? Senior living communities often have accessible residences that are designed for seniors’ safety, as well as amenities like meal service and housekeeping that preclude seniors from attempting dangerous household chores.
Health & Wellness
Even if your parents manage to avoid falling, they’ll still be prone to medical emergencies. What happens if they have a heart attack, for instance, or a stroke? What if they mix up their medications, or have an allergic reaction? And what about diet and fitness? Malnourishment and muscle loss can be common in seniors, many of who stop shopping, eating and exercising when it becomes more difficult for them to drive and walk.
Why Senior Living? Certain types of senior housing, like assisted living communities, may have medical personnel onsite who can assist in the event of a medical emergency. Many have meal services that ensure proper nutrition, and most offer amenities and activities to help residents stay active and fit.
Money is a common concern for seniors, many of whom live on a fixed income. If a financial emergency were to befall them, would they be okay? A medical event, for example, could be just as hurtful to their wealth as it is to their health. A home disaster, such as a broken furnace or flooded basement, could be equally disruptive.
And then there are financial fraudsters, for whom seniors are often easy prey. Even something as routine as paying bills can become problematic for older adults, whose failing eyesight and discomfort with the latest technologies could lead to missed or mis-paid bills, which in turn can lead to cancellation or interruption of critical services.
Why Senior Living? Senior living communities make for stable and predictable expenses, which makes financial planning and management simple for seniors and their families. Plus, many communities offer tiered services that can flex to fit any budget.
As they age, seniors often see less of friends and peers. Some of them retire in faraway places. Some of them become ill or disabled. Some become isolated due to lack of mobility. Still others pass away. Meanwhile, grown children who used to consume so much of their time become busy with careers and families of their own. The cumulative effect for many older adults is a smaller social circle that can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Why Senior Living? Senior living communities are designed with socialization in mind, offering ample opportunity to participate in organized activities as well as impromptu social engagements.
When friends and family are absent, it’s not just seniors’ social lives that suffer. It’s also their support system. Suddenly, they have no one to check in on them to make sure they’re okay. That can have consequences not only for their mental health, but also for their physical well-being.
For example, imagine a natural disaster; in the event of a major tornado, blizzard, earthquake or hurricane, who would make sure your parents had food, water and heat, or help them evacuate if it was no longer safe to shelter in place?
Why Senior Living? Senior living communities have built-in support in the form of neighbors and friends, as well as professional staff.
Aging doesn’t just impact the body. It also impacts the mind. In particular, memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can create its own kinds of safety concerns. Seniors with cognitive illness, for example, may be prone to wandering and might endanger themselves with simple acts of absentmindedness, like leaving a hot stove unattended.
Why Senior Living? Many senior living communities offer memory care services that are designed especially for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
A senior living community can bridge the gap between the help your parents need and the help you’re able to offer.
While you’re contemplating how a senior living community can benefit your parents, consider how it can benefit you, as well. If Mom and Dad choose to age in place, at some point they’ll likely need increased support and supervision from you. Think about your own responsibilities at work and at home. Do you have the time to be a full- or even part-time caregiver? To help on a routine basis with groceries and household chores? What about the social and emotional bandwidth that caregiving requires? A senior living community can bridge the gap between the help your parents need and the help you’re able to offer.
For more assistance in preparing to talk with your loved one about senior living, click the link below to view our full guide.