Cape Cod's Premier Senior Living Community
(Originally published on Capecod.com)
By Ann Luongo
As your loved ones grow older, keeping them at home and independent as long as possible is always the ideal situation, but living at home alone can also create anxiety and obstacles for them and for family members, near and far. How will you know when the time is right for a move to either independent or assisted living? There are many signs and challenges that may affect your loved ones and indicate that the time is approaching for a change.
IS HOME MAINTENANCE A CONCERN, YET THEY STILL WANT TO BE ON THEIR OWN?
The upkeep of a home can cause great stress for seniors and may be neglected, relegated to a family member or outsourced at an increased cost. At a senior living community, these demanding chores are handled effortlessly by the staff, incurring no added expense. It is comforting for all involved to know that with just one call, maintenance issues or repairs will be quickly managed – day or night. And, at the same time, independent living residents are able to keep a feeling of home with spacious apartments, full kitchens, patios and a flexible meal plan.
DOES YOUR LOVED ONE SOMETIMES SEEM DISENGAGED OR LONELY?
Research has shown that social interaction offers older adults many benefits. Staying socially active and maintaining interpersonal relationships can help with physical and emotional health as well as cognitive function. A senior living community can enrich one’s life by offering camaraderie with other residents and staff, activities that provide entertainment and life-long learning, or just the peace of mind knowing there is a neighbor nearby.
HAVE YOU NOTICED YOUR LOVED ONE BECOMING UNSTEADY OR HAVING FALLS OR ACCIDENTS?
Many older individuals become less ambulatory with age. At most senior communities, safety checks are provided regularly to ensure residents’ safety. In addition, these safety checks can prevent possible future accidents by ensuring the resident’s apartment is safe and free of tripping hazards.
IS THE CHALLENGE OF BEING A CAREGIVER BECOMING OVERWHELMING?
Caregiving is difficult to balance, especially for those in the “sandwich” generation, caring for their own children and their parents simultaneously while managing full-time jobs and household duties. It is also taxing for aging couples with the healthier spouse acting as a caregiver while maintaining their own health, combining an enormous amount of hands-on support with the juggling of many appointments.
In a senior living community, transportation to and from medical appointments, as well as food shopping, are typically provided. Most communities also have amenities and services such as a salon/barbershop, bank, library and post office, simplifying the coordination needed by caregivers to get family members to “town center” for daily activities. Frailty, declining physical health and memory impairment can affect the aging population on many levels.
Should the need arise to move from independent to assisted living, many communities like Thirwood Place offer a seamless transition. Assisted living allows seniors to have the balance of a home life atmosphere while nurses and aides are accessible to help with daily living activities. The added services and benefits of assisted living include personal support with daily activities such as hygiene assistance, dressing, medication administration, a full meal plan, laundry and trash removal.
When suggesting a move to a senior living community one must always show empathy and compassion. Seniors are not only walking away from years of memories in a family home but also may be feeling incapable and inadequate as related to their independence. They are also encountering thoughts about their own mortality. In addition, they may be harboring outdated images of senior communities. There are many opportunities to visit and explore local independent and assisted living communities, through complimentary open houses with guest speakers, themed activities open to the public and tours of the apartments and properties.
Becoming familiar with the communities in advance of the need to move can make the transition much easier. It is important to focus on the benefits of the move, explaining that a new type of independence is actually created as they are freed from the worries of daily chores, maintenance issues, food preparation, transportation and isolation. They will experience a newfound freedom enjoying daily life, interacting with fellow residents, experiencing activities, entertainment and outings or spending quiet, reflective time in their own apartment within a larger community of care.
Although it is a major transition, independent and assisted living communities can offer companionship, safety, balanced meals and, best of all, peace of mind for the residents and their families.