Common Fears About Moving to a Senior Living Community
The decision to move to a Senior Living Community – like any major life decision – raises certain fears. Let’s confront the most common.
1.) Fear of Loss of Independence
We all want to run our own lives. Especially in retirement, we don’t want regimentation. We want to do things our own way, whether that’s for life’s major functions or the finer details. However, with age, sometimes personal needs increase and independence is strained. Our loved ones and senior community staff do not want to take away independence, but they are obliged to see to our needs.
Life at an Independent Living senior community is a lot like life in a condo. You don’t have to paint the siding, clean the gutters, or fix leaky faucets. You’ll cook your own meals, unless you prefer to eat in the restaurant on a given evening. Transportation and activities are available, but optional. Make your own bed and wash your clothes if you wish, but services for such tasks are usually available. Furnish and decorate your apartment to your taste. You still want to drive? Go ahead. (You’ll have parking space.) In short, you’re independent.
Assisted Living raises the level of service by degree. Depending on individual needs, it will likely vary and could include all meals, outings and entertainment, transportation, help with keeping appointments, full-day scheduling, and up to 24-hour available assistance. In Memory Care and Skilled Nursing settings, care is nearly constant. Independence wanes, but not because of the senior living community setting.
2.) Fear of Running Out of Money
Quality senior living isn’t cheap, especially if nursing care is involved. Assess your resources realistically. Add up those pensions, Social Security payouts, the likely surplus from selling your home, your current retirement funds and bank balances.
Now get detailed cost breakdowns from the management of your potential senior communities. (Shop around, just as if you were buying a private home.) Look into costs at various levels of care, as care level might rise over time. Know going in how costs match up with your resources. Keep in mind that staying in your home or apartment isn’t free; calculate your cost of staying put – including food, utilities, maintenance, insurance and taxes — and compare it with the cost of the senior community, which may include many of those things you’re currently paying separately for.
Ask the communities you’re interested in about their financial approval process. Will you complete a financial application and receive approval prior to moving in? Ask them what happens if your financial resources dwindle so you can make an informed decision about your next chapter and how it relates to your savings portfolio.
3.) Fear of Loneliness
Loneliness is probably the most groundless of all the fears. Advancing age typically means an ever-shrinking circle of friends and acquaintances. Many older adults still in their own homes find themselves isolated, whereas living at a senior community brings an abundance of peers to your social circle. A fresh start in a setting surrounded by potential new friends undoubtedly creates opportunity to enhance one’s social life.
4.) Fear That Senior Living Will Cause Me to Age Faster
Does the thought of a senior living community make you picture yourself as a grumpy geezer among grumpy geezers? Life in a quality senior community is nearly stress-free and irresistibly full of vibrancy. You have no house to clean and maintain, no grocery shopping to do. Assuming decent health, you awaken each morning to something like a vacation, if that’s your choice. What do you want to do today? Art? Dancing? Yoga? A field trip to a concert? Play some music? It’s hard to be grumpy or feel old in such a setting, and it’s pretty easy to relax and maybe feel a little younger.
5.) Fear of Irrelevancy
Many older adults have spent their whole, long lives working to make a difference in the world. You strive to make your marks as you age into your seventh, eighth and even ninth decades.
Moving into a senior living community, especially to an Independent Living Community, does not mean hoisting the white flag of surrender when it comes to engagement with work and the wider world.
Senior Independent Living is entirely compatible with extended careers, not to mention mentoring and volunteering. Many older adults at all levels of care find themselves busier than ever when they move to a senior community, but busy with tasks they want to and like to do. (Which is as it should be – you’ve earned it.)
As you continue considering a move to a senior community, as with any life decision, don’t forget to do your homework. Tour, ask, and learn about the levels of care, costs, history of the organization, and more. Read reviews, those written by employees as well as residents and family testimonials. Visit more than once before you commit, and talk to residents as much as you can. Once you make the move, we’re it’s one you won’t regret.