If you have talked to a loved one about moving to a senior living community and have been met with resistance, you’ve probably heard arguments like, “I don’t need help! I don’t want to give up my independence!” Common fears like this are among the myths that surround assisted living, but today’s senior care communities are very different from such unfounded ideas.
If you take a tour to a modern senior living community, you will likely find that the truth about senior living is very different. Ask questions of the residents and staff and you’ll learn that most of the myths associated with assisted living are fairy tales.
“They won’t let me do what I want!” This is among of the most commonly held beliefs about senior living communities. The truth is actually quite to the contrary – once the burdens of housekeeping, chores, home maintenance and other difficult and undesirable tasks have been removed, most seniors have more time than ever to do whatever they choose. The majority of communities encourage residents to live as independently as their abilities will allow.
“I’ll lose my privacy!” While it is true that modern senior living communities are busy, active places, they also include a variety of quiet spaces and areas where seniors can be alone if they would like. A library or spa can allow you to escape, or you might find peace in your own room any time you wish. You may choose to participate in scheduled activities or not. Seniors can easily maintain a private life while still being part of the community at large.
“I don’t want to leave my home!” It’s true that initially, the senior living community will be unfamiliar, but modern assisted living communities understand the impact of the change and are able to help make the new home feel more like “home”. Seniors may bring their own furniture and belongings to their new home to make the new apartment feel comfortable and safe. The presence of mementos and furniture arranged the way they were in the old home can be very helpful as you make an adjustment.
“They only serve cafeteria food!” Many people believe that senior living communities serve bland, boring food, that everyone will have to eat the same thing, or that all meals are always served at the same time. Modern senior living communities offer healthy, nutritious meals tailored to the individual tastes of the residents in the community. Many communities employ a gourmet chef who prepares the menu, so that meals are like those at fine restaurants rather than eating in a cafeteria. Some communities even boast several dining rooms with a variety of menu choices, and access to snacks is universally common.
“It’s too expensive!” Most people are surprised to find that when you compare the cost of living in your home to the cost of living in a senior living community, the difference is usually minimal. Home upkeep, bills, future medical care, transportation, and other factors often make living at home significantly more expensive than relocating to an assisted living community. It would be difficult to cover all the services available to residents of a senior community for the same monthly fee in a private home.
“I’m not that old yet! I don’t need to discuss assisted living!” If indulged, this is a particularly damaging myth and one that can create unnecessary anxiety. Seniors need to be involved in the decisions made about their care. If you leave the decision until you are too incapacitated to be involved in decisions about where you live, you may end up at the mercy of those around you. The uncertainty can also leave family unsure about what would be best. You should plan well before you “need” assisted living so that you have a chance to decide what the right next step will be.
“There won’t be anything to do there!” Studies show that seniors who participate in activities live longer, healthier lives, and modern senior living communities have been designed to keep life for seniors fun and active. The staff is dedicated to providing a wide variety of amenities, services, and programs that keep seniors engaged and address to their interests.
“Those people are BORING and OLD!” Findings from studies show that seniors in assisted living communities tend to have active, enriched lives. Most seniors in these communities are adventurous, vibrant, and excited about what life has in store for them each day. Senior community residents also display more optimism and have more developed friendships than those who live at home.
“I won’t have any friends – no one will like me!” This is a belief that really has nothing to do with senior living communities. In studies, those who don’t have a wide circle of friends before moving to an assisted living community often develop more friendships once they have moved. Of course, at all ages, making friends has a lot to do with the individual. If you reach out to meet new people and try new things, it will likely be easier to make friends in the senior community than it was from the isolation of a home. In reality, as in any community, the individual resident can choose to have as many friends as they would like to make.
“Why do I need to tour senior living communities? They’re all the same!” Every senior living community is different. What might appeal to one person may make someone else unhappy, so modern senior living covers a wide range of options. It’s important to tour more than one to find the perfect option. It’s also helpful to meet other residents, find out about programs offered, talk to the staff, and taste the food in order to make the right choice.
Once you let go of the myths and misconceptions about senior living and understand the reality of modern senior communities, you may want to tour one yourself! Open your mind to the opportunities and you might find a whole new way of life.