Here’s the truth about independence, socialization and support in senior living homes.
Aging is a unique experience for each of us, and entering a new season of life may bring challenges you never expected. You may have reached a point where you know you’re ready for something different. Perhaps someone has suggested senior living, but you’re sure it’s not the right fit for you. If so, now might be the right time to take a new look at senior living – because chances are it’s not what you expect. One piece of advice from older adults in today’s retirement homes: Don’t believe the rumors about living with other seniors!
Here are five common pieces of misinformation about senior living out there today, and what you can do to combat them.
1. Senior living is boring.
Have you heard the phrase “life is what you make of it?” Nothing could be truer than in your retirement years. While today’s senior living communities offer no shortage of opportunities to learn a skill, experience world-class dining, compete in games, sing, garden and even be active in the community, it’s up to you to choose to engage. If you are a go-getter who thrives in an activity-rich environment, you’ll do well in a quality senior living community. Even if you need a little motivation, however, supportive staff and a growing peer group can help you find purposeful ways to keep busy.
2. It’s for people who can’t take care of themselves.
One frustrating myth that seniors often hear is that retirement communities are there to take you in when you’re unable to live alone. The truth is much more nuanced, however. Senior living communities offer a range of services, from those you may already utilize (such as laundry or housekeeping) to the medical and therapeutic offerings we hear about the most. Many seniors find independent apartment living to be a good entry into retirement communities, as you can continue caring for yourself as long as you are able, then transition to additional support services only as required. How much you do is up to you. Places like Five Star Senior Living pride themselves on a model that values independence and respects autonomy.
3. It marks the end of independence.
This pesky myth just continues to live, even though many retirement communities exist to allow seniors as many choices as possible. From the food you eat to the friends you make, there’s actually more opportunity to exercise independence in a retirement community than might be possible if stuck at home where you are limited to the services and options presented by your doctor or the community. With professional staff on hand to empower residents, you can keep your independence in many more tasks and decisions than you could imagine.
4. You’ll be lonely.
Senior loneliness is an epidemic, but retirement communities address this head-on. Instead of sitting at home alone and potentially limited by mobility issues or lack of social systems, you could be among dozens of your peers – people who understand what you are going through and accept you as you are! Whether you are an introvert and prefer to casually chat over dinner while enjoying books during your leisure time, or you take every opportunity to socialize, you can explore relationships at your comfort level. With people checking in with you daily and (if needed) carrying out a care plan unique to your personal wellness goals, you’ll never truly be alone again.
5. Your health goes downhill once you go to live in a senior community.
One final disturbing myth is how senior living communities affect health. So much has changed in the industry, with the top locations putting an increased focus on “holistic” matters. It’s not enough for communities to check on blood pressure and medication; the future of senior care involves spiritual, social, mental and physical strategies. From having a safe place to meditate to keeping your brain sharp with a friendly game of Scrabble, you should expect that your new home will be looking out for much more than what would show up on a blood test.
See for yourself how seniors truly thrive
The next time someone parrots one of these unfortunate, but common, myths, know that people’s opinions are often formed by a personal experience that is not representative of senior care as a whole. What’s worse, much of these myths are based on rumors or things we once knew about care – from long before we understood how seniors truly thrive.
One thing to remember, however, is that all retirement communities are not the same. While high-quality residences exist, with ample staff and resources to create a truly fulfilling experience, the only way to know which one you’ll love is to visit. Take responsibility for choosing the place that could easily be your home. Ask residents about these myths, and let them tell you their experiences in proving the rumors wrong!