There’s no question that moving to senior living is a milestone, a major life event. Some stress and hesitancy is understandable. It feels natural to continue living in the place we’ve called home for years or even decades, and the change always seems to come sooner than expected.
Yet success stories are far from rare. In fact, many older adults find plenty of reasons they actually prefer their senior living community over their previous home. New bonds, more free time, resort-like activities — a quick glance at the benefits of senior living reveals why so many people find relief after the big move.
Hear from seniors and their families who’ve shared their experiences in online reviews of assisted living and independent living communities within A Place for Mom’s network.
When Lillian’s loved one first arrived at Sunrise of Pinehurst, an assisted living community in Denver, he needed three helpers to transfer him from the bed to a wheelchair. Then they experienced a life-changing turnaround: Within about six months of moving to the community, he could use a walker to independently go to the dining room.
“His progress has been remarkable and that is because of their care,” Lillian wrote in a review.
Although such an improvement may not always be possible, many senior living communities have access to physical, occupational, and respiratory therapists, and trained caregivers can help keep medications on track. It’s reassuring for seniors and their families to know these services are readily available.
Toni S., a resident of The Admiral at the Lake in Chicago, had this to say: “As the inevitable aches and pains start building up, it is comforting to know that help is right here in the building with wonderful healthcare and physical therapy professionals.”
In Nampa, Idaho, a resident at Heron Place was excited to share they’d been elected ambassador with a responsibility to listen and share what their peers liked or didn’t like about the assisted living community. Gerry, a resident of Renaissance North Tampa in Florida, wrote about teaching art classes for others in the community and how they’d taken a role in promoting other activities.
“We’re like one big family,” Gerry wrote.
Higher-rated senior living communities often build a sense of community among residents, even enabling some to take on these types of leadership positions. According to a 2019 Pew Research Center analysis, older Americans spend over half of their waking hours alone — a measure of social isolation that’s linked to poorer health.
When writing reviews, residents and their families often comment on the benefits of senior living activities offered by communities.
“We eat together and have activities together, so we get to know and care about one another,” wrote John S., a resident at Solstice Senior Living in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
The child of a resident at Lionwood Senior Living in Oklahoma City wrote that their mother was “depressed, lonely, and unhappy about everything” before moving into the community.
“We never imagined the change in her would be so positive and so dramatic,” they wrote. “Almost any time the family goes to the Lionwood Facebook page, there is Mom participating in some activity or another. Lionwood feels happy and alive any time we have been there, and our mom seems to be thriving in its environment.”
A son whose parents live at Lakewood Reserve in Lakewood, Colorado, recalled the helping hand they got on move-in day from the maintenance team, who helped hang the TV and pictures on the wall of their new home.
In Phoenix, Rob D. commented in a review of Mountain Park Senior Living that he sent his mom a walker, which the staff assembled for her and even customized with her name and room number.
Marsha, a resident at Pacifica Senior Living Calaroga Terrace in Portland, Oregon, shared gratitude for a maintenance employee who promptly replaced a broken closet door.
“He relates so well to the seniors,” Marsha wrote. “When I turn in a maintenance request he responds promptly, and he is very capable.”
Time and time again, seniors who are satisfied with their communities share appreciation for conveniences such as rides to the shopping mall or doctor’s office, daily or weekly housekeeping, bathing and grooming, and three prepared meals a day (you’ll hear senior living communities refer to these tasks as activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living).
“With the passing of my spouse, I sold my house and moved to an apartment. After two weeks, it was apparent that I had few culinary skills, and meals were a hassle,” wrote Rich F., who eventually moved into Atria Campana Del Rio in Tucson, Arizona, a decision he called the “right choice.”
Kate K. at The Worthington in Gahanna, Ohio, wrote this in a review of her independent living community: “It is a great place to live if you want to be free to be out and about and don’t want to be burdened by cooking, cleaning, and the details of daily life.”
It’s not unusual to hear residents describe their senior living community as a cruise ship on land, while others compare their lifestyle to a vacation. They’re often referring to luxurious amenities offered within communities like spas, arts and crafts studios, cocktail lounges, coffee shops, and multiple types of restaurant-style dining halls.
“My favorite part of the day revolves around exercising and the pool. There are many group classes and individual training,” wrote Marty S., a resident at Maplewood at Weston in Weston, Massachusetts. “There are many activities including music, lectures, painting, a comfortable movie theater. Another perk for me is the underground garage.”
Sometimes residents highlight simpler features they enjoy as a benefit of senior living.
Norma, a resident at Sunrise of Des Peres in Des Peres, Missouri, wrote a favorable review about the gazebo, outdoor dining area, and walking paths. Ric J., who has a loved one at Anthology of Overland Park in Overland Park, Kansas, highlighted the community’s patio with a garden “where the residents can go out [to] get some sun and fresh air.”
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For Vernon S., an assisted living community was the last place he wanted go. But after living on his own for about 15 years, he fell and fractured his hip. The injury required six weeks of rehabilitation and put him in a “deep funk” as his mostly independent lifestyle was ending. That changed shortly after moving into Pacifica Senior Living Rancho Peñasquitos in San Diego, California.
“Within two weeks I settled into the routine and have been the most content and happy I have been in years!” Vernon wrote in a review. “Atria Rancho Peñasquitos literally saved my life for which I am forever grateful.”
Families sometimes avoid moving their loved one to a senior living community until a health problem compels them. Living in a secured and monitored environment can prevent these medical complications or help seniors recover from operations faster.
Shirley S. wrote in a review of Chateau De Boise in Idaho that staff members of the independent living community watched over her following an operation.
“Recently I had dental surgery and the staff and services checked on me several times a day on how I was feeling … even bringing me six servings of Jell-O for my sore mouth,” she wrote.
When Mary B. at Clarendale of Algonquin in Illinois took a fall, she was impressed with the nurses and caregivers who came to her aid.
“They were calm and took exceptional care of me all while taking charge during a scary time for me,” Mary wrote. “I felt so loved and I am blessed to be in such an exceptional community I call home!”
Pew Research Center. “On average, older adults spend over half their waking hours alone.”