Showing posts with label should you move to assisted living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label should you move to assisted living. Show all posts

Friday, October 8, 2021

Assisted Living - Pros and Cons of Assisted Retirement Communities

As we age, many of us are discovering that it is harder to continue to live on our own, as much as we might love our current home and neighborhood.  Eventually, it can become a challenge to take care of a house and yard, while also doing all our own cooking and personal care.  However, most of us do not want to move to a skilled nursing home, and probably do not need that level of service.  

Some people eventually move into the home of an adult child, or have one of their children come live with them.  Of course, this is not a good option for most people and, in fact, many retirees do not even have an adult child who would be capable of caring for them. 

Other people may try to postpone assisted living, by adding a variety of medical safety devices (Ad) to their current home, and sometimes that is an adequate solution, especially if they are able to have a caregiver come to their own home for a few hours a day to help them with medications, bathing, and meal preparation.  However, depending on your personal needs, this may not provide all the assistance you need.  In addition, if you develop a progressive disease, such as Parkinson's, which could eventually make it extremely difficult for you to live in your current home, you may want to arrange for a better housing solution long before it becomes medically necessary. 

What should we do?  This month we have a guest post from Jennifer Bell, who explains the pros and cons of moving into an Assisted Living retirement community.  Her information will help you decide if this is the right option for you.  

Advice for Seniors About Living In an Assisted Living Community

Nearly everyone wishes to live in their current home for as long as possible. However, as you age, it may become too challenging to stay in your current home alone, since you eventually may no longer have the ability or energy to care for yourself and your home. 

In many cases, assisted living may become the best option. Let’s discuss what retirees should know about assisted living care:

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Care

Many people often confuse assisted living communities with nursing home care. Although both services focus on keeping seniors healthy and safe, assisted living offers more space and privacy, and a more comprehensive living arrangement, for people who do not need 24-hour skilled nursing care. 

Assisted living is an option for seniors who may have difficulty performing some basic life skills for themselves, such as hygiene or grooming, and who also want to be part of a long-term social setting. In this case, an assisted living facility may be the best housing option. 

On the other hand, nursing home care primarily focuses on seniors who need regular medical assistance, thus they provide around-the-clock care by professional healthcare experts. If a senior requires constant medical attention, nursing home care may be a more practical option for them than a hospital. In addition, nursing home care may either be long-term or short-term, depending on the type of injury or illness. 

Opting For an Assisted Living Community

1.   Have a Family Meeting About the Choices Available

Many decisions are involved in choosing to live in an assisted living community. These choices mainly include assessing your needs vs. the services offered, and then evaluating the costs involved. Therefore, it is essential to involve your loved ones, particularly your adult children or spouse, when making the decision. They can offer their perspective on the types of help and services you need, and you can all make a group decision that is best for everyone.  Many couples move into assisted living together, especially if one of them is in declining health. 

2.   Take a Tour of The Community

Virtually all assisted living facilities are willing to provide a tour for interested residents. You should visit the communities you have identified as possibilities and talk to the current residents.  This will help you deal with any doubts you may have about the community. 

This is also an opportunity to learn the community rules and decide if you can conform to them. Remember, the end goal is to enjoy your stay in the community, while getting the care you need. So, please don’t force yourself into any situation you are not comfortable with.  For example, some assisted living communities include bars and happy hours, while others are alcohol free.  Some communities welcome pets, but others do not. The same is true for other preferences, such as smoking. 

In addition, various communities may offer different types of social activities, classes, exercise options, parties, entertainment and other ways for you to meet other people and stay engaged. It is important to know how you would fit into each community. 

3.   Give Yourself Time

Moving into a new environment is never easy, especially if you have left a home you loved. Even after doing everything necessary to settle into the best assisted living community for you, detaching fully from your prior home may not be easy. Staying in touch with close friends and family may help you overcome any concerns you have about leaving your old friends behind. Gradually you will make new friends in your assisted living community. 

4.   Participate in Community Events Before Moving In

One way to know if a community suits your needs and interests, and help you overcome your fears, is by participating in some of their events in advance. Finding a community which allows prospective residents to participate in their events will give you a better picture of what your life will be like, once you decide to move there. 

5.   Identify a Moving Company

Most communities are able to assist with finding moving services for their new residents. However, if you choose a community that does not provide this help for its residents, you can make the arrangements yourself. Countless professional moving companies will help you move seamlessly, and ensure that your things are well taken care of throughout the moving process. They can even help you pack and unpack.

Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Assisted Living


1.   Daily Living Support

As mentioned earlier, many seniors who move into assisted living need help to do basic things to make their lives easier. Some seniors move to an assisted living community even when they can still handle their daily activities independently. However, if they eventually reach a point where they need a little help with some of their daily activities, immediate assistance can be arranged for them. More help will be provided as it becomes necessary.

2.   Enhanced Social Support

Most seniors have a lot of free time on their hands after retirement. Therefore, it is easy for boredom and depression to creep in, especially if they spend too much time alone. Living in an assisted living community can help them make new friends and participate in different activities, which will keep their minds active and make them happier. 

3.   Enhanced Safety

In an assisted living community, many safety measures are already taken care of, even with regard to housing design, such as non-slip surfaces, grab bars in bathrooms, and handicapped accessible floorplans. Also, in case of an emergency, it is easy for caregivers to respond swiftly. Residents also benefit from the transportation services provided in the community, so they no longer need to drive their own cars in order to go shopping, or to doctors' appointments.. 

4.   Enhanced Healthy Lifestyle

Every person has unique physical needs. However, living in an assisted living community gives you more opportunities to participate in physical activities and eat the nutritious foods necessary to keep you healthy and strong. Seniors who struggle with cooking and feeding themselves can benefit significantly from this, since the staff will provide their meals.  

5.   Enhanced Medical Attention

As a resident of one of these communities, you will have access to assistance with your medical needs, including attention from specialized medically certified caregivers who can ensure that you follow your doctor's instructions, such as taking your medications on time.  The caregivers are also more likely to notice any changes to your health and address changing medical issues as early as possible. 


1.   Cost

The cost of living in an assisted living facility may be expensive compared to living in your own home in a traditional community.  All the personal care you receive can be expensive.  However, these communities may also be less expensive than living in a private home with around-the-clock private caregivers.  You and your family will need to decide which is the more affordable option for you.

2.   Difficulty Adapting to The New Environment

Do you remember when your parents moved you to a new neighborhood during your childhood, or when you moved to a new school? Making new friends and adapting to a new environment took time. The same feelings may be experienced when seniors move into an assisted living community.  It will take time to adjust, and you have to be prepared for that.

3.   Breach of Privacy

It can be hard to secure your private space when living in an assisted living retirement community. You have no choice but to welcome caregivers into your home to check on you or handle the daily chores they are expected to perform.  However, you will have more privacy in an assisted living apartment than in a skilled nursing home or a hospital.

4.   Insufficient Medical Care

Many assisted living facilities only offer basic medical care, compared to what someone might receive in a skilled nursing home. Therefore, if you or your loved one needs critical medical attention, an assisted living facility may not be the best place for them. 

For most seniors, the advantages of being in an assisted living facility outweigh the disadvantages. It is a worthy investment to ensure that your loved ones are well cared for, if you or your family can afford it. It will give families peace-of-mind to know that their loved one is well taken care of, especially when they cannot be there to personally check on them all of the time  

Author: Jennifer Bell
About the Author

Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. 

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

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If you are interested in learning more about financial planning for retirement, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, common medical issues as you age, and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

When to Move to Assisted Living - Are You Ready?

When should you make the move to an assisted living retirement community?  Like most people, you have probably lived independently and comfortably your entire life.  However, eventually you may start to realize that you are no longer able to do an optimal job of caring for yourself.  You probably do not need to be in a skilled nursing facility.  You just want life to be easier, and maybe have a little assistance once in a while. 

It can be hard to acknowledge that you need to move to assisted living, and many people have them confused with nursing homes.  However, you may not have visited one of the delightful assisted living communities currently available in your area.  In most cases, residents live in their own private apartments, with their personal furniture and possessions.  They have both privacy and lovely common areas to enjoy. Typically, there are a wide variety of activities, fitness facilities, art studios, classes, and entertainment.  In most cases, the residents are given a choice of a broad selection of foods to choose from at each meal. Special diets are often available for those with specific medical needs, such as diabetics, or people who have problems with gluten or food allergies.

How can you decide if you are ready for assisted living?  The truth is that you can move into one of these communities whenever you wish.  You do not need to be sick, injured or have any particular health issue to justify moving to one.  It is not unusual for a healthy spouse to move into one with a spouse who has a chronic health condition. Many single people make the decision as they get older because they want to age in comfort and safety.  Even during the Covid-19 epidemic, people have successively transitioned into assisted living communities. Some communities even promote the fact that they have managed to maintain a "bubble" with few or no cases of Covid-19 among their residents or employees.

If you decide to wait to move into one, how will you know the time has come? You should consider making the move if you answer "yes" to even one of the questions below.  You should seriously begin the process of choosing an assisted living community if you answer "yes" to several of these questions, especially if you wish to make the choice of a community yourself, rather than wait until an adult child makes the choice for you. What questions do you need to ask yourself to determine that assisted living is right for you?

When Should You Move to Assisted Living?

1. Have you fallen recently?

It is easy to dismiss a fall as simply being an "accident."  After all, even as young adults, we all trip over things occasionally.  However, have you fallen more than once in the past year or two?  Did it happen because you were dizzy, experienced a sudden drop in blood pressure, had neuropathy, or lost your balance? Did you have trouble getting up after it happened?  Were you badly injured, severely bruised, or experienced pain for more than a day?  Even if you have not actually fallen, did you only manage to prevent a fall because you were able to grab onto a chair or counter at the last minute? 

Falls are a leading cause of death and serious injury in the elderly. If you have lost your balance, misjudged a step, or fallen for other reasons, and you live alone, it could be time to move to a safer location where someone will check on you regularly.  Until then, you may want to purchase a medical alert device (Ad) and get a service to go with it, so you can contact someone quickly if you fall and have trouble getting up on your own.  Some of these medical devices include automatic fall detection, so the service provider can get help for you, even if you are unconscious.

2. Are you having difficulty recovering from illnesses and injuries?

If you seem to be chronically ill, or have trouble healing from an injury or illness, your immune system may be telling you that it can no longer respond aggressively to your health issues. You could be approaching a time when you will need more medical attention in the future. It is far better to move into the assisted living community of your choice before you become too ill to move.  If you are almost at that point already, because of your illnesses or an injury, you should seek help in moving.  Many assisted living communities can refer you to someone who will help you choose the items you want to take with you, arrange the packing and moving, dispose of the items you no longer need, and make sure you are successfully relocated.

3. Do you ever forget to take your medications?

It is very important that you take your prescriptions correctly and on-time.  At first, a medicine organizer may help you keep your prescriptions straight.  However, if you find that you are still forgetting to take them, or taking them twice in the same day, it could be time to move to a facility where they can help track your medications and make sure you are taking them correctly.  In addition, they will notice if there might be drug interactions which your doctor may have overlooked, or if you seem to be having a bad reaction to a medication.  It can be important to have an independent person observe the effect your medication is having on you.

4. Do you have problems with any daily living activities?

Are you having trouble preparing your own meals and cleaning up afterwards?  Is it overwhelming to do your laundry, take a shower, or wash your hair?  Moving to assisted living will give you a well-deserved break.  They will provide you with meals, often served restaurant style, and they can also help with housework, laundry, showering, and personal grooming. It can make life much easier for you.

5. Are you eating properly?

Are you relying on takeout or frozen meals? Has your weight changed significantly in the last year or less? Weight change can either mean you have a serious medical problem, or it could mean you are not eating properly.  When my grandmother moved into assisted living, she was amazed at the number of liquids they provided at every meal, including a glass of water, milk or juice, and coffee or tea.  It is common for senior citizens to become dehydrated and not realize it.  Whether you have been overeating unhealthy foods, or under-eating the healthy foods your body needs to sustain itself, an assisted living community can help you find the right balance.

6. How is your personal hygiene?

Are you letting yourself go?  Do you spend the day in your pajamas, frequently re-wear the same clothing, or skip bathing and washing your hair?  This could be a sign that you would benefit from assisted living, where you will regularly see other people and have a reason to get dressed and look nice.  If dressing and bathing have become physically difficult for you, the community will also have assistants who can help you.  Many of them also have an on-site hairdresser.

7. Are you having mobility problems?

Are you having trouble walking or using the stairs in your home?  A physical therapist could help you regain some strength, and it is possible you may be able to remodel your current home to make it more accessible. However, if you are having difficulty getting out of bed, walking around your home, or standing for any length of time, it may be advisable to move to assisted living before your mobility problems become worse.  Even if you ultimately end up using a walker or require a wheelchair, assisted living communities are designed to make it easier for you to get around while using these mobility devices.

8. How is your driving?

If you have had some auto accidents, fender benders, or tickets, it could be time to stop driving.  You could rely on taxis, Uber or public transportation, or you could move to assisted living where they will drive you to doctor appointments and periodic shopping trips.  They will also provide transportation for outings to local places of interest.  It could be time to relax and leave the driving to someone else!

9. Has it become too hard for you to maintain your home?

Has it become difficult for you to keep up with your home?  Do the flower beds need weeding, the grass mowing, or the walls painting?  Are there plumbing or electrical problems you are ignoring because it is so difficult for you to deal with them?  Are you starting to feel like a hoarder?  Do you frequently lose things in your home, because of the chaos?  Life will be much easier for you in assisted living where you will no longer be responsible for maintenance.

10. Are you able to care for your pets?

If you own a pet, you do not want to neglect them.  It is not fair to the animal if you sometimes forget to feed them or fail to change the cat's litter box.  Is it becoming too hard for you to walk your dog, or take your pet to the vet? There are assisted living facilities which allow pets.  This move could benefit both you and your beloved animal.

11.  Do you get lost easily?

Getting lost or having difficulty following directions could be an early sign of dementia.  It could also be dangerous for you, especially if you having trouble finding your way back home.  If you find yourself getting confused when you go somewhere, do not ignore this symptom.  You should immediately talk to your doctor and seek out an assisted living facility which provides memory care, in the event your confusion becomes worse.

13. Have you noticed that you become angry more easily?

Anger, impatience and aggressive behavior can be early signs of impending dementia.  They could also be signs of depression or loneliness.  You should discuss these symptoms with your personal physician.  They may want to put you on an antidepressant.  Moving to assisted living could also benefit you.  You will be in a less stressful living situation, and they can monitor you for continuing symptoms of depression or dementia.

14. Have you become isolated or withdrawn?

Be honest with yourself.  Have you become less social than you were a few years ago?  Even during Covid-19, there are ways to interact with other people online, and reach out to your friends.  You should do some self-reflection about whether or not you have adapted.  Are you reaching out to other people, participating in social activities, staying in contact with friends, or continuing to pursue hobbies you always enjoyed?  If you have noticed a change, you should talk to your doctor about the situation.  Assisted living could help you reconnect with people and activities you enjoyed in the past.  

15. Are you ignoring your bills or your mail?

You bills are likely to be much simpler when you live in assisted living.  You can arrange to have your monthly fees and any other bills, such as insurance premiums, automatically withdrawn from a bank account and, at the same time, have your Social Security, pension and any other sources of income automatically deposited.  While you or a family member should regularly check your account to make sure the money is being deposited and withdrawn correctly, you will have few, if any, bills you need to handle directly.  This will also reduce your stress. 

16. Are you happy?

As people age, it is not unusual for some of them to become unhappy, lonely, or resentful towards their family members and friends who may seem to have forgotten them.  You cannot change the behavior of other people.  However, you can put yourself in a better living situation where you will be surrounded by new people who care about you, check on you, socialize with you, and participate in activities with you. Even if you are having absolutely no problem caring for yourself right now, the right assisted living community can improve the quality of your life immensely. 

Remember that you can move into assisted living for absolutely no reason, other than the desire to put yourself in a safe, secure situation because you are aging and becoming more frail. Most of them have independent living apartments or cottages where you live, until you actually need more assistance. Perfectly healthy people often live in assisted living communities because they have an ill spouse, or because they want to know they will be prepared for the future.  However, if you answered "yes" to one or more of the questions above, you should seriously consider moving into assisted living sooner, rather than later.  A good quality community will be able to recommend an agency or helper who can make the transition easier.  Check with state agencies to make sure you find a community which is safe and has had few problems or complaints.

The ideas for some of the above questions came from an article in Consumer Affairs.  You can find more information about finding an assisted living facility for a parent or other loved one at:

Are you interested in learning more about where to live in retirement, Social Security, Medicare, commone medical problems, financial planning, and more?  Use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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