Living in a Senior Community Versus aging in place

We all age, but we may age at different rates, and have different needs.  One of the decisions we must face is what kind of living arrangement will serve us best.  The decision to age in place verses finding a senior community that will meet our needs and allow us to blossom into our golden years is a big one.  We are going to look at what a Senior Communities have to offer verses aging in place in your own home and what to consider. 

Not your parents nursing home…

Senior Communities have changed from our parents’ generation when they were viewed negatively in most cases and entered as a last resort.   Nursing homes had the connotation of a place where you go when you can no longer care for yourself and may not have family that can care for you or take you in.  The choices today are much different and focus on providing an active lifestyle with activities to stimulate and enhance the mind body and soul.

55 and over resort-style living…

Today’s senior communities are attracting the 55 and older crowd by offering a resort lifestyle or active adult carefree living.  The draw is to target people in their fifties still living in their homes that might be considering downsizing as well as those living independently for some time.  By making the move early, you can get settled into a new home, with less space affording you time for an active lifestyle without the responsibility and upkeep of a large home.  Consolidating bills is another huge advantage making it easier to pay the community while they manage the contractors and the utilities providing you a maintenance free, worry-free home.  Eliminating grocery shopping and cooking is a huge bonus for some, you may use the dining service solely, not at all, or choose to keep a kitchen where you can cook when you like or to entertain.  

Live like you are on vacation…

The 55 and over communities often boast everything from fine dining, spas, walking and biking trails, golf, tennis, pickle ball, bocce, yoga, pools and saunas. Services such as concierge, transportation, beauty parlors or barber shops, notaries, onsite fitness centers, pools, classrooms and clubs for happy hours and social events are not uncommon.   Clubs and activities abound with everything from travel and wine clubs to craft, game and movie nights.  There is something for everybody in every price range all designed to keep you engaged both mentally and physically as you age.   Social contact is easier as you will have shared dining experiences, outings and all manner of ways to bond with your fellow residents who have similar interests.    Many options for luxurious accommodations are available as well as less expensive options to support any budget. 

Home sweet home, aging in place…

Aging in place is the other often popular option for seniors to consider.  It is a big decision either way and it is beneficial to give some thought to staying where you are and all that it entails both good and bad.  The benefits are the stability and comfort of living where you have made many memories over the years.  You are accustomed to the routine of living in your home and know the ins and outs of the property you inhabit.  It can be exciting to redo the space so that it has the feel of moving into the next phase of life, or some choose to keep things exactly as they are and enjoy the comforts of home and the memories evoked by things that have been there for some years. 

Friends and neighbors and familiarity…

You many have a wide social network where you are and have the support of family, friends and neighbors that have not moved away or downsized.  This can be helpful in times of need as you can rely on those people to help you through an injury, surgery or illness. Social contact is so important to your health and longevity and knowing your neighbors and having a strong social support system can make all the difference in the world to your quality of life.  Consider whether you live in a community where people stay or if you live in a more transient place where many of the people you know will eventually move.  Think about how it might feel to find yourself in a familiar place but needing to make new friends.  What kind of social clubs are available to you, and will you be able to drive or do you have access to public transportation.  There may be services in your community designed to help seniors whether delivering meals or helping with transportation to doctors’ appointments.  Do your homework so you know what is available to you and take advantage of it.  

Staying home with support...

The recent boom in services like Visiting Angels are designed to provide support for seniors who have chosen to age in place and can be quite effective at supporting you through the process.  There are levels of service that you may purchase including administration of medication, help with physical activity as well as meals and daily personal care.  These services have made it much easier for seniors to stay in their homes while enjoying the support and care of someone looking in on them daily.  Should you choose this route, it is advisable to have an assessment of your home for safety reasons.  You may need to install things like a walk-in shower or a lift to navigate stairs.  Consider removing loose rugs and decluttering in order to open walkways as much as possible to minimize the risk of falling.  Seek help in finding a contractor if needed to make sure all work is done professionally to minimize the risk of falling or being injured in your home. 

Protect yourself emergency call services…

Set up an emergency call button service to be sure you have a backup and way to reach out for help in case of emergency.  And remember, the decision to stay in your home and enjoy some more years of independence does not preclude you from making the choice to move later.  Work with a trusted friend, family member or your accountant to consider the financial implications of either choice and be sure your budget will support the choice you make into the future. 

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