The term “nursing home” has scary connotations; you may picture seniors wiling away their time in rocking chairs with little socialization. To most people, a nursing home marks the end of a fulfilling life. Today’s seniors are leading more engaged lives than ever before. They’re going back to college, helping to raise their grandchildren, even going skydiving. Many are interested in alternatives to nursing homes. They insist that their golden years should afford a chance to consider growing, learning, and improving their communities. Senior living communities give seniors the care they need, but in an engaged space where they can continue living lives of passion and meaning.
When you’re caring for an ailing family member, it’s easy to feel alone. Yet millions of other people just like you carry a similar load. You’re not alone. The senior population is booming, with 46 million seniors over 65 living in the U.S. today. By 2060, that figure is projected to double. Understanding the needs, lifestyles and views of today’s seniors can help you better understand the needs of the senior you love and care for. Here’s what you need to know.
Choosing a senior care community is a task that ideally should include several community tours, the chance to ask questions and discuss with family members, and time to make a solid decision. However, some family members find themselves in the midst of a crisis, doing their best to choose a community while sitting in a hospital emergency room. You and your family can reduce the chance of that crisis decision by watching for signs that you or your aging loved one will soon need additional care.
The Boomer generation has made a difference in each market they have entered, and senior living is no exception. Thanks to Boomers being specific about what they want senior living to look like—active, healthy, and fun—senior living communities no longer feel like clinical settings. Instead, senior living communities are vibrant and beautiful, with amenities that many people only experience during expensive hotel stays.
If it is time for you or your aging loved one to make a positive change in living arrangements, independent living is a wonderful option. Once you find the right fit, you will be surprised at the benefits you or your loved one will begin seeing right away.
Our relationships make us who we are. They inspire us, comfort us, and occasionally challenge us. We need our relationships more than ever as we age, yet about 40 percent of seniors report feeling lonely. Loneliness can lead to depression, sleep problems, and worsening health. One study found that the dangers of loneliness were as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Strong relationships are the solution, but sustaining these relationships can be difficult—especially if your loved ones live far away or enjoy activities you’re no longer able to do.
Don’t give up. The right family activities are fun for everyone, from perennially bored kids to stressed adults. These fun activities for seniors are great for the whole family:
Life is full of transitions and next chapters. Children grow up and start jobs or go to college. They get married, have kids of their own and may move. Transitions almost always offer new opportunities, but they can also be scary. That may be why many seniors are reluctant to transition from their current living arrangement into an independent living community. Just as you might have felt homesick your first night of college or anxious about getting married, it’s normal to be unsure about the next page of your life story. For many seniors, independent living offers a bridge to a vibrant community; new friendships; and many more years of learning, giving back to the community and connecting to others.
It’s a familiar refrain heard at family discussions across the nation:
“When I’m old, don’t put me somewhere. I want to live on my own terms!”
Many seniors are terrified of ending up in a nursing home. They associate nursing homes with abandonment, old age, and uselessness.
The truth is that today’s seniors have many excellent options from which to choose—whether they’re able-bodied or ailing. Assisted living and nursing home communities no longer mean being confined to a rocker. Many are chock-full of activities, learning, and a sense of community. Even so, they’re not right for everyone. Seniors who want to avoid a nursing home but are no longer comfortable living at home should consider senior independent living communities. The perfect option for independent seniors with a commitment to adventure, this senior living option allows seniors to continue thriving, learning, and growing well into old age.
Independent living preserves a senior's independence while placing them in a community of like-minded people. It balances the many competing needs of today’s seniors by offering:
A ready-made community that doesn’t intrude on privacy.
Help when a senior needs it, without compromising independence.
An end to the frustrations and costs of home maintenance, without an end to independence.
Access to transportation, classes, meals, and other amenities just outside your door.
Retirement is probably the first time in your life that you haven’t been saddled with seemingly endless responsibilities. That doesn’t mean retirement is obligation-free. The demands of keeping your home in order, nurturing relationships with your children and grandchildren, and sustaining lasting friendships can feel like a full-time job. Independent living may offer a solution to the competing demands of the next chapter of your life. You can settle into restful bliss, schedule an active social calendar, or master new skills without the demands of tending a yard, maintaining a home, and worrying about transportation.
An overwhelming majority of seniors say they want to remain independent as long as possible. But for many, remaining at home is actually a barrier to independence. A house can become a financial burden, a source of endless work, and even a barrier to socialization and learning—particularly if you no longer drive, or prefer not to drive at night.