The lifestyle of aging adults is vastly different today than it was just 20 years ago. Both men and women are living, and staying home, longer. Many are looking to retirement as a time of rest, relaxation, adventure and even luxury – all the things that are hard to find during career-building and child-rearing years.
With these changes come new risks and opportunities. Aging at home without adequate services and support increases risk of injury and illness, which families and friends can mitigate by staying proactive, watching for signs that it’s time for more help, and exploring retirement communities early. But there are also great opportunities that have come with the change in culture among aging adults: retirement communities have stepped up to the plate, creating unique opportunities to age in a home setting while realizing the benefits of adventure, luxury, relationships and safety.
Here, we’ll share the risk associated with aging at home, the signs that it’s time to start looking for better living options, the benefits of community living after retirement and what Lake Park has to offer for your friends and family members as they begin to explore their options.
The Risks of Aging at Home
Aging at home is a luxury most Americans hope to experience as they near end of life, but is accompanied by increased risk.
Falling is the leading cause of injury and death of among older adults in the United States. Those living at home may be more prone to falls because of lack of assistance, more tripping hazards (like rugs and stairs), poor lighting, responsibilities around the house and tighter spaces that make using adaptive equipment consistently a challenge.
Most adults over age 65 (75% of them, in fact) suffer from multiple chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. These conditions often require close management and treatment with medication, exercise, diet and additional interventions that can sometimes cause serious problems if left untreated. Chronic conditions can contribute to malnutrition, falls, depression, poor sleeping habits and more.
Aging at home also increases risk of other problems: noncompliance with medications, serious medication errors, isolation, malnutrition, safety risks related to skin breakdown and infection and more.
When is it Time to Consider Support?
Many aging adults are choosing retirement communities long before they start to experience physical and cognitive decline because they look forward to the vibrant lifestyle they offer. If this isn’t the case, family and friends may need to intervene and recommend a change when the risks outweigh the benefits of living at home.
Here are some signs that it’s time to consider a better living situation for your friend or family member:
- He or she is overwhelmed with yardwork and home maintenance chores and is looking for relief from those duties
- Your family member or friend is looking for fewer responsibilities at home so they can travel more or better enjoy retirement
- Multiple appointments or specialists make getting to and from appointments a challenge; centralization and management of these appointments would be a relief
- The home no longer supports their needs; they’re looking for fewer steps, wider doorways, less to clean, more accessible showers, and better amenities on site
- They’d like more opportunities to make friends, develop themselves and enjoy entertainment without having to drive or take transit every time
- Your friend or family member is feeling lonesome, depressed or worried when left alone
These signs and symptoms, on the other hand, indicate that more help is urgently needed:
- They still have medication left when it’s time to refill, indicating they may not be taking their medications according to schedule
- Uncontrolled chronic medical conditions, like high blood pressure or high blood glucose levels
- The development of bed sores or open areas of skin that don’t heal as expected
- Skin infections and rashes in areas of skin-on-skin contact (like the groin, under arms, under the belly, or under the breasts), which can indicate inadequate personal hygiene
- Poor dietary choices or inadequate nutrition; signs might include unexpected weight loss or weight gain
- Little or no interaction with others; your loved one doesn’t seem to participate in social engagements, spend time with friends, or do the things they used to enjoy doing
- Poor housekeeping or unsanitary conditions at home, like difficulty keeping up with dishes or household cleaning
- Frequent or serious falls resulting in injury
- Forgetfulness that poses safety risks, such as leaving the burner on or getting lost outside the home
- Unmanaged incontinence resulting in urinary tract infections, yeast infections, skin breakdown, or unsanitary living conditions
The Benefits of Assisted Living Communities
As the needs of the aging population have changed to a dramatic shift in lifestyle, assisted living communities throughout the nation have stepped up to create communities that focus on engaging the mind, body and spirit.
In fact, many people choose to transition to retirement communities long before they need help simply to enjoy the luxury of retirement in a supportive community. This frees them up from yard work, home maintenance and some daily chores like laundry so they can travel, enjoy their families, relax, build meaningful relationships and participate in things that they haven’t had the time to do until now. It also gives them quick access to both medical appointments and recreational appointments, like the salon or massage therapist.
Most retirement communities offer three meals a day and many offer gourmet, restaurant-style dining that promotes customized nutrition, an enjoyable dining experience and a break from the tedious work of everyday life, like food preparation and dishes. They also provide ample space for family members to come together and enjoy a meal together, as well as options for the guests of residents to order meals and dine in at an additional affordable cost.
The benefits continue:
- Transportation to local businesses and events
- A full activities calendar for life enrichment and enjoyment
- Quick response in medical emergencies
- Homes and rooms that are designed to be accessible despite physical limitations or adaptive equipment
- Predictable living expenses that stay steady from month to month
- Unlimited potential for companionship, friendship, and even romance if desired
- Added luxuries like a pool, walking path, gym and more
Perhaps more importantly, retirees find that moving is easy and enjoyable when they do it while they are young. In some communities, known as continuing care retirement communities, they can stay where they are even if their needs change. This means no downsizing and moving and trying to adjust to all of the changes at age 85 or 90; instead, they’ll simply stay comfortable and well cared-for despite changes in health status.
Whether you are looking for a more relaxed lifestyle or needs more assistance urgently, consider Lake Park. Not only does Lake Park offer a full range of services but also amenities that support the lifestyle you, your friend or family member wants: music, art, dance, photography, theater, movies, games, history and sewing are just a few of the things they can enjoy. Contact us to schedule your tour and experience life at Lake Park yourself.