Covenant Living at Inverness helps to ease a senior’s transition into their community with move-in help, daily activities and an informative orientation. Photo courtesy CLI

As a person ages, their lifestyle starts to slow down. It may be harder to get out and do the things they were used to doing or seeing the people they were used to seeing. But community and relationships are vital to a lifetime of health and happiness – maybe even more so as the birthdays add up. This is why a person’s living situation can make all the difference. 

The Pros: Living in a Senior Living Community 

Providing the opportunity to keep a senior interacting with others is a major benefit of choosing to make the move to a senior living community.

According to Senior Lifestyle, which operates more than 130 communities in 27 states across the U.S., “socialization is one of the top reasons why many people make the switch to living in a retirement community. If your weekly agenda is empty, but want an engaging social life, then a senior housing community might be your perfect match.”

Reducing the isolation that can stealthily creep in as loved ones age is a vital part of navigating life changes.

“Everyone will face changing needs and circumstances at some point. Living in a senior living community can reduce isolation, improve socialization and provide access to supportive services,” says Cari Bashaw with Covenant Living at Inverness (CLI) in Tulsa. “These benefits can help seniors live longer, healthier lives.”

Other benefits to living a communal lifestyle during the golden years include more maintenance-free living, increased security and quick access to healthcare for emergency or ongoing health issues, putting worries to rest. The goal truly is less stress for seniors. And lest anyone thinks these benefits have the trade off of surrendering independence, the truth is that senior living communities provide a range of independence options to suit a variety of wants and needs.  

As part of an article about the pros and cons of senior living communities, the Help for My Parents website – which provides senior living advice – encourages every family to consider all factors and to have a discussion about their loved ones’ needs and preferences with healthcare professionals.

In an article by health and medicine journalist Sandra Gordon in Forbes Health, the importance of having a living plan for seniors as they age is emphasized. Gordon encourages families to build this plan early and to specifically engage the senior in making these decisions. 

“A healthy aging plan helps ensure a person’s ability to age safely and comfortably in the proper environment – especially as their needs change over time – which may include medical and physical care, mindful and social opportunities, engaging activities and a price suitable to their budget,” she writes.

A Look at the Demographics 

The planning process is important and cannot be started too soon. In fact, Bashaw mentions that at CLI, they are seeing future residents take this recommendation to heart and start planning at younger ages.

“People are doing their research on senior living options at an earlier age and making better decisions,” she says. “The change [in demographics] we are seeing is that people are beginning to look at options and do their research at a younger age, often in their early 60s. After new residents move in, the common theme that we hear is, ‘I wish I would have done it sooner!’” 

Bashaw explains that new residents are typically aged mid-60’s all the way up to late 70’s, but there really isn’t a “too young” or “too old” for senior living. Many communities will have a minimum age requirement, but Bashaw mentions the benefit of being a younger resident who can more fully enjoy all the amenities and services.

Roadblocks: Helping Seniors Break Misconceptions 

During the planning process, there are several hurdles that may present themselves – whether they are misconceptions about senior living communities or complicated logistics at play. 

For example, someone may equate living in a senior community with losing independence. Bashaw helps dispel this concern.

“[Residents] are truly independent. They only change their address, not their lifestyle – unless it is to enhance it,” she says. “There are no limitations or restrictions and they do not have to ‘check in or out’ at the senior living community.”

The cost of such communities is another common concern. But the key to managing this roadblock is learning as much as possible about the options. 

In an article on the A Place for Mom website by journalist Rebecca Schier-Akamelu, she outlines a variety of ways to approach how to pay for assisted living, including using existing assets, asking about price flexibility or using tax credits, and being very specific about needed services and features. Private pay is one popular option. But if this is not possible in a particular situation, there are other ways to make sure your loved ones have the care they need. It is important to learn as much as possible and to reach out for help when necessary.

Then, once the choice of new home has been made, the actual process of moving can be an overwhelming task for some. CLI, as with many senior communities, has resources for packing, moving and downsizing.

“We have staff dedicated to making sure that the move-in process goes smoothly, that the new resident and their family have complimentary meals on move-in day, and to assist with anything that should arise in the process,” says Bashaw.

Some other concerns that senior family members may have revolve around a resistance to change or even a fear of isolation once they move. The way CLI helps to ease these worries include an in-depth orientation, resident ambassadors to help newcomers feel welcome, as well as a further connection program during which staff get to know the new residents and help introduce them to new like-minded neighbors with similar interests.

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