We break down the seven biggest fears about senior living and shares why there’s nothing to be worried about.
If society is to be believed, senior living is
where you go when you have no one else to care for you, and is an unavoidable fate when you can’t take care of yourself anymore. Forget that! The truth is, the vast majority of our fears of senior living are inaccurate.
In recent years, baby boomers have reinvented what senior living really means. There is a wide range of state-of-the-art senior housing, from assisted living for those who need day-to-day help, to independent living for more active adults. These options all aim to provide seniors with a lifestyle tailored to their individual interests and needs, while also offering the necessary care to remain mentally, physically and socially healthy.
If you or your loved one is worried about moving into senior housing, read on for answers to seven of the most common fears about senior living:
1. “I’ll be bored.”
With the activities and amenities offered by today’s senior living communities, there’s no time to be bored. Senior housing nowadays offers everything from field trips and outdoor excursions to fitness and personal enrichment classes. There are even unusual types of senior living communities that cater to specific tastes — imagine living on or near a college campus and taking lifelong learning to its ultimate extreme!
2. “I’ll drain all my finances.”
Yes, senior living can seem financially daunting, but if you’re already thinking about how to afford the care, you’re ahead of the game. With savvy financial planning — and maybe a little help from Social Security or VA benefits — senior living can sometimes come out to the same cost as living at home. If you factor in home health care, senior living communities just might cost less than staying at home.
3. “I’m afraid I won’t receive the best care for me.”
There’s far, far more to senior living than the stereotype of adult children dropping off their elderly parents with random strangers. When it’s time to move to senior living, the process of decision-making is one that should involve the entire family, and your older loved one should be just as comfortable with their new home as you are moving them there. Caregivers should maintain regular contact with senior loved ones, particularly in the weeks after they first move.
Remember, too, that your loved one will be well cared for. Good senior living homes are staffed by professionals who are experts on senior care, and can offer more advanced care if it’s called for. Elder abuse and neglect is a crime, and you can avoid it by finding a legitimate, licensed senior community.
4. “I will get old and sick faster.”
Whether you’re old or young, it’s being alone or isolated that leads to anxiety and depression, while the social contact a senior community provides is key to better health and quality of life. If a senior loved one is already ill — with Alzheimer’s disease, for example — memory care offers daily stimulation, planned activities and customized care, all of which can actually slow down the progress of an illness or even improve health and behavior.
5. “I will lose my independence.”
While some seniors fear that senior living is equal to a loss of independence, the truth is in fact much the opposite. If you choose assisted living, you’ll have help with cleaning, cooking, and other chores that only become more onerous over time. What senior living offers is greater freedom with the precious time you do have. To make that time happy and rewarding, communities provide ample opportunity for social activities on-site as well as transportation around the area when you need it.
6. “I won’t be able to control my daily activities or life.”
Moving to a new residence, letting go of long-held habits of daily life — these are often realities of getting older, but they can be difficult and require major adjustment. Take your loved one’s concerns seriously and don’t minimize their feelings, says HelpGuide.org. The fact is, assisted living can be a necessary and freeing step for both seniors and their families. If it is already too difficult for a senior to care for herself independently, or for caregivers to provide the necessary help, then assisted living may be a good option. The emphasis is on safety and security, but also independence and privacy, enabling each resident to have the care they need without compromising individual dignity.
7. “People will forget about me.”
It’s natural to worry about being alone, especially if you define yourself by those relationships you value. However, moving into senior living doesn’t mean you’ll lose those relationships. In fact, you just might value them even more. At the same time, a senior community provides new venues for social contact, not to mention onsite help when where’s an emergency.
What are your family members’ fears about senior living? We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments below.