Eight reasons why an assisted living facility could be better than living at home when it comes to seniors’ quality of life and overall wellness.
As the baby boomers continue to enter retirement in record numbers—a group that includes my own parents—more and more of us will face the question of how to handle their changing health needs. However, many of us will also face an even more urgent request from our parents themselves: “Please don’t put me in a nursing home.” The problem is this: when mom and dad start to need more daily care, it can put pressure on family caregivers and strain on relationships.
Assisted Living vs Home Care
That’s where assisted living comes in. In a residential facility where there is 24-hour access to personal care, as well as nutrition and wellness services designed specifically for older adults, seniors can enjoy social contact, security and support while still maintaining their independence. Assisted living is a great intermediate step for seniors who need more help than the family can provide at home, but who don’t need the round-the-clock medical care of a nursing facility. Read on for eight compelling reasons to consider assisted living for the health and quality of life of your loved ones.
1. Access to Physical Activity and Fitness
With the latest in gym equipment, group exercise classes like tai chi and zumba, and personal trainers well versed in the needs of older adults, assisted living communities offer opportunities for physical fitness that go far beyond what family caregivers can easily provide at home.
2. Plenty of Opportunities for Social Activity
Living at home can be isolating, particularly if a senior resides alone. It can be difficult for the elderly to maintain their social relationships when they are no longer working. In assisted living, residents can easily socialize with peers, not only in common areas but also through planned, structured activities like field trips, dancing, and cultural events.
3. A Safe Living Environment
For seniors to remain living safely at home, a wide range of home modifications might be needed if their physical health begins to wane—such as shower railings and medical alert systems, to name just two—and the expenses can quickly add up. Assisted living facilities are designed for mobility and accessibility, helping seniors avoid falls and accidents and providing rapid access to assistance.
4. Intellectual Stimulation
Among the various activities that assisted living communities provide are plenty of chances for lifelong learning, from computer classes to book clubs to art classes. Many facilities even offer guest lectures from visiting scholars and professionals. Those communities located on or near a college usually enable residents to take advantage of the nearby campus resources, including courses and cultural events.
5. Supervised Nutrition
It can be very difficult to supervise senior nutrition at home. Seniors living alone may find it unappealing to cook for one, and it’s challenging for family caregivers to monitor whether their loved ones are receiving the necessary nutrients. In assisted living, residents are served three meals a day tailored to the changing health needs of older adults. Some luxury communities even offer gourmet dining!
6. Housekeeping and Transportation: All Taken Care Of
Keeping the house clean, weeding the garden, getting to appointments and social engagements—these are day-to-day responsibilities that often fall on caregivers when a senior parent is living at home, whether they live alone or with the family. The vast majority of these burdens are relieved when older adults reside in assisted living, as the community generally includes upkeep and housekeeping in the monthly rent cost, and many facilities also offer transportation services.
7. Help with Activities of Daily Living
Family caregivers are also generally responsible for helping with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, and eating when a senior loved one lives at home. In other cases, the family or the senior themselves must bear the cost of a home care aide. Both of these options can cause personal and financial strain on the family. In contrast, one of the most basic tenets of assisted living is helping older adults with these ADLs so that they can continue to function as independently as possible.
8. The Rewards of Independence
Being able to maintain one’s independence is rewarding in and of itself—and sometimes that requires accepting a bit of help now and then. Assisted living helps seniors care for themselves while also offering access to an active and rewarding lifestyle. At the same time, when families no longer bear sole responsibility for meeting all of their loved ones’ needs, it can reduce everyone’s stress level and even improve family relationships. The time that adult children spend with their senior parents can then become truly meaningful quality time.
If you’re considering assisted living for your senior loved one, check our resources for facility listings and access to personalized guidance. Feel free to let us know how we’re doing in the comments.