Moving into a senior living facility is a big decision, whether it’s the elderly person making the decision for themselves or a family member making this often difficult choice. One of the toughest things about a move into a senior living community is dealing with the many fears and stigma that tends to surround this move. Senior living communities and long-term care facilities provide a critical service that allows families the reassurance that their aging loved ones are getting the help and care they need every day.
What follows are eight common fears about senior living that are often based on misconceptions.
1. It’ll Be Lonely
Most retirement communities are full of other residents and staff members, which means any new resident should feel far from alone. It’s true that many seniors have a harder time forming new, lasting relationships, especially if many of their friends and family members have passed away.
However, most senior living communities today organize a variety of opportunities for socializing. Depending on the community, that may include classes, outings to local attractions, happy hours, holiday parties and other communal gatherings, providing plenty of opportunities for interaction. Many senior living communities encourage family involvement, which means residents don’t have to worry about not being able to host their children and grandchildren.
2. You Won’t be Able to Cook for Yourself
There are so many different senior living options these days, some of which provide more independent living amenities like apartments equipped with full kitchens. Other facilities may restrict cooking to certain areas of the community, but this doesn’t mean that cooking isn’t allowed. Many retirement communities, even those for assisted living, will allow residents to cook in designated kitchen areas or with help from trained staff or a loved one. If you or your elderly family member are concerned about giving up your culinary hobby, make sure to ask staff members at the communities you tour about kitchen and cooking amenities for residents.
3. No Overnight Guests
If you’re the type who wants to have your family close by and stay overnight often, then you might worry that your new senior living community will put an end to that. In actuality, residents in retirement communities have ample time to spend with family, and your living space is generally yours to do with as you please. Most senior living communities do accommodate overnight guests and even host meals or social gatherings designed to accommodate visiting loved ones.
4. Pets Aren’t Allowed
There are many positive health benefits to owning a pet, so senior living residents might feel a bit distressed if they think they can’t bring a beloved cat or dog with them to their new home. While senior living communities may have banned pets in the past, that’s generally not the case today. Cats and dogs up to a certain size are allowed in most facilities. If you or your loved one is concerned about being unable to care for the pet, there are now many facilities with community pets for all of the residents to enjoy.
5. It’s Too Expensive
Many elderly folks are already concerned about having enough money for the rest of their lives, and this fear is compounded when they consider the cost of long-term care. But these days there are a variety of different ways to pay for senior living. With financial help from family, governmental assistance such as social security and VA benefits and options like annuities, reverse mortgages and bridge loans, it is often possible to find an affordable community with costs similar to living at home.
6. Loss of Independence
There are many undesirable consequences of aging, including sacrificing privacy as you turn care over to someone else and losing privileges you once enjoyed, such as driving. Many seniors worry about losing their independence and the ability to make their own choices– such as how to decorate their new home. In reality, most senior living communities encourage residents to voice their preferences in not only the décor of their home but also in the activities offered at the community.
7. The Staff Isn’t Trustworthy
This one is difficult because it is important to understand that elder abuse is a real problem, and if you suspect that your loved one is being abused, you should seek help immediately. With the proper research, however, you can decipher which assisted and independent living facilities are safe and appropriate for your needs or the needs of your loved one. Be sure to look into the history of the facility, reviews from other residents, certification and training of the staff, and staff turnover rate. Take a list of questions to ask and scout out the facility before signing any contracts.
8. You’ll Age Faster in a Senior Living Facility
Some elderly adults associate senior living with a place where you “go to die,” but this is a big myth. In fact, older adults living in retirement communities may find they have a new passion for life with their newfound free time and abundance of activities organized for them, from exercise classes to new learning opportunities and excursions.
While there are a number of persistent myths and fears about assisted and independent living facilities, most of these are based on outdated misconceptions.
If you’re starting to look into options for retirement communities or long-term care for yourself or a loved one, we can help you with your search.