Most of us, if given the choice, would rather stay in our own homes, surrounded by everything familiar, all the way until the end of our lives. The reality, though, is that most Americans will end up needed some kind of long-term care or assistance. For many of them, assisted living is the best solution.
What Is Assisted Living?
Many people are under the misconception that assisted living means a nursing home and loss of independence. Nothing could be further from the truth. The AARP describes assisted living as “helping residents remain as self-sufficient as possible with the assurance of assistance when needed.”
That really sums it up well. Still, the decision to move anywhere is a big one. And when you’re thinking about moving from your home comfort zone into a contained community, well, that’s huge. So how can you know when it’s time to make that transition?
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself – or your loved ones – that will help steer you in the right direction.
1) Does maintaining your home feel like a burden?
I know what you’re thinking: household chores can be a drag at any age. And that’s true. But there’s a vast difference between the occasional “I don’t feel like washing the dishes tonight” and a frequent “I just don’t have the strength to do anything around the house.” If you feel like the latter, see if household help does the job. If even with assistance the daily responsibilities involved in the upkeep of your home feel overwhelming, then it might be time to consider a move to an assisted living community.
2) Have you had any close calls lately?
Is your home still user-friendly for you? Are there stairs or narrow turns that are difficult to navigate and making it easier for you to slip and fall? Have you fallen recently? If your home (and paychecks) are laid out so that stair lifts, support bars and renovations are within reach for you, then it might be worth it for you to make those changes. If you’re like most Americans, though, then re-outfitting your entire home is likely not financially feasible. Homes and apartments in assisted living communities are designed for safety and comfort, with medical assistance right there if you need it.
3) Are you feeling isolated?
As we age, getting out becomes more difficult – and not just because we have to drive. Family and friends move away, neighbors change, and suddenly you might find yourself stuck at home just because there’s no longer anyone to go see or do things with. If you find yourself lonely or staying at home more than usual, joining an assisted living community might be just what you need. Living with people your age, the dining experience and outings all give you the chance to connect with new people and come out of yourself a bit. Hey, they call it a community for a reason.
4) How’s your general health?
We saved one of the most important questions for last.
You need to take a really good look at your health. Do you have any kind of a condition that could worsen as you age? Are you suffering from chronic pain? Try to imagine what your life and your condition are going to look like in 3 or 5 years from now, and try to plan while you’re still in a position to choose. You want to select an assisted living community, not settle on one.
Have you chosen an assisted living community for yourself or a loved one? Please share your experience in the comments below!