For many of us, our ideas about senior living are significantly outdated. Perhaps your last experience with it was visiting a relative decades ago, in a hospital-like facility that felt drab and boring. Many people believe senior living is a term interchangeable with a nursing home, that they are only for the ill and elderly who can no longer take care of themselves. However, nothing could be farther from the truth when talking about today’s modern senior communities. Residents of these communities report being overwhelmingly happy. A survey from the Assisted Living Federation of America reports that ninety-four percent of respondents say that they were satisfied with the overall quality of their community. And ninety-three percent were pleased with the level of independence gained from living in their community.
Here are a few myths about senior living that you should ignore:
1. Senior living is for the sick and elderly
Senior living communities are often grouped in with nursing homes when it comes to people’s perceptions. Nursing homes provide medical care to the elderly or seniors who are in poor health. Senior living communities are designed for active older adults. They want to spend their retirement years unburdened by home upkeep but want assistance with daily activities they might not feel comfortable completing on their own. Not only do senior living communities offer more flexibility and convenience for aging seniors, but they also allow residents to stay in control of their choices. Often, waiting for an illness or health crisis occurs to move rushes the process and might leave seniors with limited options. Most independent living communities do offer higher levels of care when the need arises, such as assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehab programs that residents can take advantage of without the stress of having to move.
2. Loss of Independence
Often, the choice to live independently is mistaken for living on their own. Modern senior living facilities pride themselves on making residents feel as independent as possible. With limited care provided, seniors can feel at home and spend their days on their schedule. Residents aren’t limited to where they can go or what they can do. Most communities offer outings, activities, socializing, fitness, art classes, and flexible dining options. Participation in these activities is optional, and for those who’d prefer to spend their retirement years traveling or visiting loved ones, they can enjoy knowing their residence is being looked after while they are away. No longer burdened by home maintenance, lawn care, housekeeping or cooking, residents often find they have more time for activities and hobbies, or for spending time with loved ones. Many communities provide some type of transportation if a resident is no longer comfortable driving or keeping up with car maintenance. Some properties even offer parking and garage space for residents who do enjoy the independence of driving themselves.
3. Lack of socialization and activities
The activities offered to residents vary by community. Still, they all offer a variety of enrichment programs and wellness programs—activities such as yoga, crafting classes, sports, board games, and more. There is no limit to the opportunities for seniors to enjoy a favorite pastime, or take up a new hobby. Residents can meet new friends who share the same interests. Activities and social events are optional, with limited set schedules. Most seniors find they have more time to enjoy their favorite pastimes in a senior living community, as they are no longer spending time with home upkeep and household chores.
4. No privacy or personalization
Today’s senior living communities often resemble a resort or luxury condo. Many offer breathtaking views of cities or nature. Communities vary in size and style; some offer apartments or townhomes; others are small houses. Most offer many different floor plan options. Units can have single or double rooms, with various accommodations and amenities, such as kitchenettes and laundry. Seniors are free to furnish and decorate their space with their items. While downsizing a home can be an exhausting task, today’s senior living communities can accommodate almost all of the comforts of home without sacrificing taste or style in the process. Additionally, seniors have control over many of the security features offered in these communities, giving them a sense of privacy and security.
5. Seniors would prefer to move in with family
Seventy-three percent of families report that a senior loved one’s quality of life improved after moving to assisted living, according to research from A Place for Mom. Many seniors fear becoming a burden to family and loved ones as they age. While caregiving often strengthens relationships, it can also affect the caregiver’s ability to work, maintain relationships and health. According to the CDC, caregivers often neglect their own needs and suffer from the physical and emotional demands of caregiving. Choosing a senior living community could result in a happier and healthier life, not just for senior citizens, but also for their loved ones.
6. Senior living is expensive
The cost of senior living varies depending on the size of residence and level of care. The median monthly fee for assisted living in 2019 was $4,051, according to a Genworth study on the cost of care. While the monthly rates of senior living might surprise and intimidate some families, it is often comparable or even less than remaining in the home and receiving the same services and support. Everything offered at a senior living community is part of the same monthly rate. Expenses like meals, transportation, activities, assistance with daily tasks, housekeeping, medication management, and medical services are all included. Not to mention the utilities, insurance, taxes, and upkeep expenses that come with homeownership.