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 any more. 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.
Have you found your aging parent to have major anxiety about moving into senior living? To follow is a list of biggest fears along with some advice that may help you address his/her misconceptions or concerns:
“I’ll be bored.”
With the activities and amenities offered by today’s senior living communities, there’s pretty much no excuse to be bored. Today’s senior housing market offers everything from field trips and outdoor excursions to fitness and personal enrichment classes.
“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 be the same cost as living at home.
“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. Good senior living communities are staffed by professionals who are experts in senior care and can offer more advanced care if it’s called for.
“I will get old and sicker 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.
“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.
“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. 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.
“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 there’s an emergency.