Senior living can be life-changing. In an era when web advertising brands everything from toothpaste to stationery as “life-altering,” that might seem like hyperbole. It’s not. Seniors lead better, healthier, happier lives in senior living communities. So although caregivers may worry that moving a loved one to senior living means downgrading their quality of life, the truth is that assisted living can offer care and hope that even the best home-based caregivers cannot match. Here’s how assisted living can help your loved one live a better life.
Ways Assisted Living Improves Quality of Life
At Arbor, we’ve watched countless seniors thrive and blossom in senior living. Some of our residents were once reserved and anxious, but upon transitioning to senior care found a new sense of purpose and meaning. Some of the many benefits of senior living include:
Living alone can be profoundly isolating. For some seniors, this isolation often comes with a hefty dose of anxiety. Your loved one might worry about what will happen if they fell, who will help if there is an intruder in the house, or how they will get to their next doctor’s appointment. Your loved one may be left alone with their worries, unwilling to voice them for fear of stressing out family members. And if they have dementia, living alone can trigger anxiety-related pacing and repetitive behaviors.
Assisted living offers your loved one a safe place where they can get help when they need it, spend time with other seniors, and feel like a valued member of a community. That means less anxiety—and fewer anxiety-related problems.
Loneliness feels awful, especially when there’s no clear end to the loneliness in sight. Seniors who have spent their lives working or caring for others may feel abandoned and discarded if they live alone or have limited contact with others. These feelings can lead to depression and hopelessness. They may also harm their long-term health. Loneliness is a serious public health crisis that some doctors have compared to smoking or obesity. Living with other seniors means less loneliness, which can mean better health.
More social connections
Assisted living is about more than just living near other seniors. The best communities actively work to foster meaningful, lasting relationships between like-minded seniors. Your loved one may meet a lifelong best friend in assisted living. With so many seniors living so close together and enjoying so many shared activities, your loved one is sure to find someone whom they click with. Some seniors even find a second (or third or fourth) shot at love.
A more active lifestyle
Exercise is a key ingredient in the recipe for a healthy life. But with age and infirmity, physical activity can become more difficult. Your loved one might not feel safe walking around the neighborhood alone. They might worry about a fall when lifting weights, not know how to get transportation to yoga class, or simply lack the motivation to get moving on their own. Assisted living makes exercise fun and low-key by offering a wide range of exercise classes, physical activities, and community outings.
A lifetime of learning
Seniors are never too old to learn new skills. Indeed, research consistently shows that seniors who master new skills are happier, healthier, and have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s. This makes it easy to pick up a new skill by taking advantage of a wide range of classes. Your loved one won’t have to worry about looking up events at the local senior center and then finding transportation. They can just walk downstairs to find a life-enriching course full of new friends.
Better nutrition can mean a better life. Foodies may crave excellent meals, but not have time or energy to prepare their own food. People with special nutritional needs may lack the knowledge or budget to prepare quality food. Assisted living offers an easy solution. Seniors can enjoy gourmet meals all day, every day, eating food in a gorgeous restaurant-like setting. Food writers are increasingly paying attention to senior living as chefs offer innovative approaches to healthy, nutritious eating.
Decreased dependence on family
Family is supposed to be there for you in good times and bad times. But when the help and support only runs one way, it’s easy for seniors to feel frustrated and even lose self-esteem. Most seniors want to continue being the family figurehead, offering wisdom, guidance, and support. When they have to rely on kids or grandkids to manage daily tasks, that goal becomes elusive. Moving into senior living restores a sense of dignity and can fundamentally rebalance seniors’ relationships with the people they love most.
Is It Time for Assisted Living?
Our intake counselors would be happy to help you evaluate your senior living options for now and the future. Here are some signs that assisted living might be the best option for your loved one:
- You feel increasingly overwhelmed by the demands of caregiving.
- Caregiving is undermining your relationship with your loved one or with other family members.
- Your loved one needs help with daily tasks, such as bathing and dressing.
- Your loved one has a progressive disease that will likely get worse, and you do not have enough time or resources to spend on caregiving.
- Your loved one lives alone, but no longer drives.
- Your loved one seems anxious, lonely, or depressed.
- Your once-vibrant loved one now spends most of their time alone at home, but wishes they had the energy or resources to do more.
- You’re spending more and more time tending to home maintenance tasks, or your loved one no longer has the budget to care for their own home.
- Your loved one can’t live alone, but you don’t want them to live with you.
- You think your loved one needs more friends and support, but you don’t know how to help them achieve that goal.
- Your loved one’s doctor says they need in-home help or assisted living.
- Your loved one has developed unhealthy behaviors.
- Your loved one has early-stage dementia and has begun making risky decisions.
- Your loved one is at a high risk of falling, but lives alone.
If you think assisted living might be right for your loved one, it all begins with a conversation. Try talking to your loved one about all that it can add to their life. The goal should be for them to see it as a form of enrichment, not a loss of independence, and certainly not something that is being forced upon them. For help beginning the conversation, download our free guide to Talking to Your Parent About Senior Care.