When it comes to aging, it’s common to prefer not to think about where you will live after you can no longer live on your own. In fact, the older we get, the less most of us like dealing with significant life changes. Most aging adults want to prevent moving to a nursing home or assisted living community for as long as possible. Some because they think assisted living is just like their parent’s nursing home was. Others out of sheer stubbornness to leave the place that has been called home for so many years.
But, what are you missing out on waiting until you have to move? Peace of mind, friendship and access to a plethora of recreational activities just to name a few things. While you might have previously thought about assisted living as an option only once you have significant care needs, there may be other reasons to consider making a move.
Prevent Avoidable Health Declines
Did you know that living at home alone can actually contribute to a decline in health? Here are a few facts to consider:
- Living in social isolation, without regular contact with other people, face increased mortality rates.
- Feeling lonely is linked to increased risk of suicide, weight loss, and drug and alcohol abuse in seniors.
- On their own, older adults often forget to take their prescribed medication, compromising chronic disease treatment.
- Inability or unwillingness to clean or dress themselves is linked to a significantly high risk of death.
- Many older adults have decreased appetites, which can lead them to cook less, eat less and lose weight, which in turn makes them more susceptible to falls.
- Inability to drive jeopardizes independence and access to essential services.
- Anxiety is common — and harmful — for older adults, and access to effective treatment can be difficult for people with limited mobility.
Avoid Hasty Decisions
Most people realize they’ll probably need some kind of long-term care in their later years, but most people fail to make a plan. The logical process people use to make major purchases — researching the features, amenities and prices of available options and making the best selection for them — is forgotten in favor of ignoring the decision in hopes it will go away.
For those who aren’t proactive, you’re likely to fall into one of three other decision-making styles:
- “Wake-up Call” decision-makers. People who suffer a near-miss health crisis that prompts them to recognize their declining health and take action to find assistance.
- “Reluctant consenters.” People who have ignored their declining health but are pushed into taking action by concerned relatives who have noticed their reduced ability to function independently.
- "Scramblers." People who have done no planning until an injury, illness or other crisis makes it impossible for them to live on their own. Now, in an emergency situation, they can’t conduct a thorough, collaborative search for the best long-term care option. Instead, their relatives are forced to conduct a quick search for the most expedient option, often resulting in a suboptimal placement for the elderly person.
The world of senior living options can be overwhelming, particularly for those that have procrastinated in doing their research. A good place to start if you’re looking to begin your research, is to:
- Have appropriate legal documents in place empowering individuals to make health care and financial decisions should your loved one be unable to,
- Make a financial plan to pay for long-term care
- Make a list of your must have’s, and
- Research options available in your area.
Helping your loved one plan ahead for long-term care can avoid the stress and regret of hasty decisions and put him or her in a well-chosen senior living arrangement.
Make the Most of Assisted Living
There’s a reason so many wish they would have made the move sooner. In addition to making new friends, enjoying a fine dining experience without having to step foot in the kitchen, and taking up an old (or new) hobby, considering Assisted Living before you absolutely have to allows you to take advantage of more that’s offered, while potentially preventing health declines or a hasty decision.