Married in Senior Living: Tips for a Smooth Transition

Many older adults are choosing to downsize, selling the large family home they’ve raised a family in and moving to a smaller accommodation that doesn’t require the same substantial maintenance requirements. Senior living communities are traditionally set up to accommodate individual residents, but as couples are increasingly making the move together, more communities offer options suitable for senior couples. But moving to a senior living community as a pair poses some unique challenges, as well as some unique opportunities. Here are a few tips for a smoother planning and transition process.

Consider your differing care needs

For some senior couples, the decision to downsize and move to senior living follows a change in health status for one spouse. But the differing care requirements can make choosing the right type of senior housing a challenge. For couples with differing care needs, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are often a good option. CCRCs enable seniors to age in place, offering independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care on the same campus. That means spouses requiring different levels of care can remain in close proximity.

Likewise, the need for privacy should be a consideration. Couples who prefer a greater sense of privacy may opt for a senior living community offering apartment-like spaces for couples or even single-family homes rather than a larger, private room within an assisted living community or similar type of senior living.

Look for amenities that meet both spouses’ needs

Senior living communities, whether you’re considering a move to independent living, assisted living, a retirement community, or a CCRC, offer varying services and amenities. Before you make a move with your spouse, look for senior living communities that offer not only the care and support both you and your spouse require, but also the activities and amenities that suit both of your abilities and interests—as a couple and as individuals.

For example, one spouse may enjoy a day on the golf course while the other joins a group of residents for an outing at a nearby shopping center or local attraction. Just as in life before senior living, you’ll have activities that you choose to do together, as well as activities you’ll participate in independently.

Creeate a plan for financing your move

Senior living is a significant expense, and while larger, private rooms or small apartments are offered by many senior living communities for couples, these are typically more costly than a standard room. There are also additional fees associated with joining the community as a couple, such as a monthly second person fee. Downsizing and selling the family home, as well as possessions that are no longer needed or wanted, is often a strategy older adults use to help pay for senior living.

Retirement communities are another senior living option for adults and couples 55 and older who want to maintain their independence and privacy but reduce the maintenance requirements that come with home ownership. These communities, along with CCRCs, sometimes allow seniors to purchase a single-family home or apartment, more suitable in size to their now-downsized lifestyle, with services such as lawn maintenance and cleaning services available to residents. Because these homes are purchased by residents, this is a feasible option for many senior couples who are in a position to sell their existing homes and purchase a smaller home or apartment in retirement community. The appeal of retirement communities isn’t merely reduced home maintenance, but also easy access to a community of seniors within the same age range who share similar interests and activities.

As more and more couples are growing old together, the number of married couples choosing to move to senior living is increasing. As such, senior living providers are offering more options to meet the varying needs of married couples within larger communities. From retirement communities to continuing care retirement communities and even options in assisted living, married couples can find an senior living option that will meet their needs and budget.

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