When you think of vacations, what comes to mind? You’re probably thinking about private suites with all the comforts of home, chef-prepared meals with fun dining options, convenient amenities, classes for lifelong learning and exciting social events?
What about when you think of senior living? A vacation lifestyle is probably not at the top of your list, but you may be surprised by how today’s senior living options resemble all-inclusive cruises or resorts.
The Growth of Senior Living
With nearly 10,000 people turning age 65 each day, approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population is of retirement age.
Despite the growing numbers of retirees, only 37 percent of Americans think they will require long-term care, when in reality 67 percent of us will actually need more care as we age.
Today, senior living is more than just care. It’s a lifestyle. If you’re over age 70, owning a home may not make as much sense as it once did. Houses require a lot of cleaning, maintenance and upkeep, and lawn care over a 10-year period can run in excess of $25,000. Independent Living communities allow you to trade the upkeep of a home for more time to do what you want.
Living Life to the Fullest
Forget the nursing homes of yesteryear — today’s seniors are living better than ever in sociable communities appointed with private apartments, restaurant-style dining, customized levels of care and fun activities.
You can also forget about Bingo. Today’s seniors are online, outside digging in the dirt, swinging golf clubs, sweating to hot yoga and enjoying laps in the pool.
From bicycling and tennis to catching up on their reading list, seniors have a whole new attitude about aging, with 57 percent viewing retirement as a new chapter in their life.
Being Social Has Health Benefits
All of this optimism can do a body good. Studies show that positive perceptions of aging are associated with a 7-and-a-half-year increase in the average lifespan. Seniors with a positive outlook are also more likely to recover from injuries or illnesses.
And if there weren’t already enough reasons to love senior living communities, consider the fact that memory decline among seniors with strong social connections is half that of more isolated seniors.
Caregivers Need Help, Too
Yesterday’s “nursing home” stigma is still present in the minds of many Americans. Most seniors prefer to age in place while their children hope to be able to care for all of their needs.
By trying to live up to this standard of care, often out of fear and worry, seniors and their adult caregivers put off meaningful discussions about aging until it is too late. The result is that 65 percent of older adults are afraid of discussing long-term care plans for fear of upsetting family members.
Delaying conversations about care takes a painful toll on seniors, who are five times more concerned about being a burden on their family than they are about dying.
While caregivers want to give their loved ones the very best care at home, many are unable to do so. Forty-four percent of primary caregivers experience increased stress with their spouse during long-term care situations.
These problems are only exacerbated by the fact that 57 percent of caregivers worry about emotional strain, 49 percent worry about associated costs and 21 percent worry about how long-term, live-in care situations affect family relationships.
The Best in Senior Living
While making the choice to move into a senior living community can be one of the hardest decisions you or your family will make, it’s often one of the best. Once new senior living residents start meeting friends on afternoon walks and over dinner, many seniors and their caregivers wonder why they didn’t make the decision to move sooner.