As you get older, the subject of retirement living options becomes a hot topic. Although many older adults want to continue living in their own home, this option may not be the best choice for them. Moving into a senior living community has numerous benefits you might want to take into account as you consider the best living option for you.
A survey in Great Britain found that more people are afraid of losing their independence in old age and being forced into a nursing home than they are of dying. No one wants to lose the ability to make decisions for themselves and to do things for themselves, but it happens. And, while older adults who require minimal assistance may be resistant to moving into a senior living community, such a move could actually give these individuals independence and a better quality of life. From having a wide variety of activities from which to choose, to entertaining friends and family, a senior living community can be the key to dignity for many older adults.
Assistance with Activities of Daily Living
Assisted living communities, skilled nursing communities and memory care communities all provide assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene assistance and eating. Round the clock assistance is provided as required, while also encouraging and enabling the resident to be as independent as possible.
Senior Living Curbs Isolation and Loneliness
Social contact tends to decrease as you age for a variety of reasons – retirement, lack of mobility and the death of friends and family all contribute. According to the AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect, 17% of adults age 65 and older are isolated, 26% are at increased risk of early death due to subjective loneliness and 46% of women age 75 and over live alone. Additionally, according to the US Census Bureau, 28% of individuals aged 65 and older live alone. This can all lead to loneliness and isolation which are both associated with a higher risk of mortality for adults who are 52 years and older according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Numerous studies have shown a link between loneliness and depression for older adults. In fact, loneliness is one of the three main factors leading to depression leading to a significant risk of suicide and suicide attempts for all age groups.
Another study suggests that social isolation makes a person 26% more likely to die prematurely over a seven-year period than their socially active counterparts. Although death was the result of the usual causes (in this study), such as chronic disease, isolation played a major role in their early deaths.
“Feeling lonely” or perceived isolation, even when surrounded by others, can negatively impact mental and physical health. According to Dr. John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of Chicago, feeling lonely is linked to poor cognition and a quicker cognitive decline. According to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology, feelings of loneliness worsen existing chronic health conditions while increasing pain, depression and fatigue.
Being socially connected is important for older adults. Living in a senior living community provides a very real means of staying socially connected, reducing both isolation and loneliness. You’re always surrounded by people, and even if you remain in your own apartment, someone will come to check on you to make sure you’re okay. This means that should your health decline or you suffer a fall, someone will be there to make sure you receive the care you need; whereas, if you’re living alone, no one is aware you need assistance.
When living in your own home, it can be difficult to maintain social relationships. Family members are not always close by. Friends move to be near their families or relocate to a warmer climate. Friends and family pass away. Transportation issues can make it hard to visit others, to take part in hobbies and activities and to have access to many things you might otherwise enjoy.
Social activities are good for your physical, emotional and cognitive health. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that remaining socially engaged helps keep your brain stimulated. By offering a daily calendar filled with scheduled activities such as arts and crafts, excursions, cultural events, sing-alongs, religious services and so much more, senior living communities make it easier to develop and maintain friendships, to experience new things and keeps boredom from setting in.
Communities may also include amenities such as beauty salons, movie theaters, game rooms, billiard rooms, libraries, learning centers and computer centers, all great places to get out and socialize. And best of all, they are conveniently onsite and easily accessible. Common areas within the community are also great locations to socialize.
Fitness and Physical Activity
Health experts say living a sedentary lifestyle can be just as detrimental to your health as smoking. This means that it’s more important than ever to get and stay physically active. Senior living communities may it easy. Not only do they often have exercise classes geared to the abilities of their residents, many also have walking trails and fitness centers with gym equipment. And, it’s easier and more fun to exercise when you don’t have to do it alone.
Nutritious, Professionally-prepared Meals
Many older adults struggle to prepare and eat healthy foods; in fact, too many are malnourished. Senior living communities offer nutritious, often chef-prepared cuisine, that addresses the nutritional needs of older adults, as well as serving foods appropriate for each resident’s specific medical conditions such as low-sodium and diabetes-friendly. Communities may offer meals in one communal dining area; while others offer choices in multiple restaurant settings. Residents are served three meals a day plus snacks. No more shopping, cooking or dishes!
Safe Living Environment
Creating a safe living environment in your home can mean lots of home modifications and bringing caregivers into the home, which can be expensive. Senior living communities are designed and built with mobility, accessibility and safety in mind. From sprinkler systems to security cameras to 24-hour care to emergency call systems, senior living communities are often much safer than a home. From grab bars in the bathrooms to handrails in the halls to accommodations designed with the older adult in mind, the environment in a senior living community offers greater mobility and accessibility compared to most homes.
From libraries to learning centers to computer centers and classes to book clubs and everything in between, senior living communities offer many opportunities for learning. Residents of communities located near a college can take advantage of the campus’ resources, including classes and cultural offerings.
Senior living communities take over many or all of the chores such as housekeeping, laundry and yard care, freeing you up to do the things you want and love to do. This eliminates some of the stresses that go with having to make sure chores are done, which can be difficult for some older adults. And, in not having to do these chores, also eliminates the opportunities for falls that can occur when trying to accomplish them at home.
Transportation difficulties can lead to social isolation and prevent an older adult from accessing medical care. According to the journal of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, “life expectancy exceeds safe driving expectancy after age 70 by about six years for men and ten years for women.” Slowed reaction times and vision problems have been statistically linked to higher rates of fatal accidents for licensed drivers who are 65 and older. Senior living communities generally offer scheduled transportation services for shopping excursions and medical appointments. This means they have access to much-needed programs and resources without endangering themselves and others by driving when they should no longer be doing so. Although, loss of the ability to drive often means loss of independence, having access to these resources provides feelings of independence and connectedness.
Peace of Mind
Stress isn’t good for your health. It can lower your body’s immunity and can increase blood pressure. The peace of mind obtained from having friends nearby, plus the services and care provided, reduces stress and gives you the opportunity to relax and enjoy life.
Full Continuum of Care at Lake Park
Some communities, such as Lake Park, offer a full continuum of care, from independent living to skilled nursing care. This means that once you’ve become part of the Lake Park family, we have the ability to provide for your care needs even as they change. Gone is the hassle of having to find a new community just because you need more or less care. Gone is the hassle of having to make new friends because you need to relocate to a new community. We offer long-term stability for you as you age and as your care needs change. Contact us to discover how Lake Park can meet and even exceed your expectations of what senior living should be.