There are tons of articles out there to help you pick a senior living community. Does the world really need one more? Yes! The reason that I say this is that most of the senior living content out there focuses on the easy questions – what is included, the different kinds of facilities and the services that they provide.
As I have talked with the women in our community, I have learned that some of the most important questions related to senior living communities are the ones that we are afraid to ask.
Some of the questions in this article may make you a little mad. You may even find yourself thinking, “It’s not fair that I even have to ask this.” But, I promise you that, on a practical level, asking these questions can help you to avoid problems in the future.
Will Your Family Really Want to Visit?
We all like to think that our families will come to visit no matter where we live in the world. We also like to believe that the type of senior living community that we choose will have no impact on our loved ones. After all, we’re the ones that will have to live there every day. Does it really matter whether there is a playground for the grandkids or entertainment options within driving distance for the adults? Does anyone care if there is a hotel within walking distance?
Much like the concept of “unconditional love,” or “blood is thicker than water,” the idea that families stick together no matter what is overly simplistic. It ignores the fact that people have their own lives. If you are in your 60s, your kids may be struggling to make ends meet. Your grandkids may be thinking about college and planning their own lives.
Of course, just because your kids and grandkids are busy doesn’t mean that they won’t ever visit. It’s just that they will visit more often – and with more enthusiasm – if you live in a place that is fun to spend time in.
To be clear, this doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the facilities. It’s more about how easy the senior living community is to reach… and, once people arrive, is it pleasant to stay there?
I’m not saying that you should put your family’s needs above your own. Far from it! I’m simply saying that it is unrealistic to think that your family will visit you “no matter what.”
If having your friends and family visit will contribute to your happiness, it makes sense to plan for their needs from the beginning.
Are You Thinking Creatively Enough About Your Senior Living Community Options?
When you think about your senior living community options, what pops into your mind? If you are like most of us, you probably have two categories in your head – “independent living communities” and “assisted living communities.” You probably also know that the former is designed for fairly active seniors who can do pretty much everything on their own. The latter is designed for people who need a little extra help.
The truth is that there are more options than ever when it comes to senior living. So, before you make a final decision, you may want to ask yourself the following questions.
Could you retire abroad and have a better quality of life?
Or, if you want to stay close to home, is there a more cost-effective state that appeals to you?
Would you be happier staying in your current home and renting space to other people your age?
Would a “granny pod” or small house on your kids’ property be appealing?
If you are single, do you want to live alone? Or would a shared housing option be interesting?
At the end of the day, your answers to each of these questions may be an emphatic “no!” That’s totally fine. But, it’s still worth taking a few minutes to brainstorm ideas that fall outside of what is considered “normal” when it comes to senior living communities.
Is it Time to Admit that You Need a Little Help… or that You Soon Will?
As older women, we have a tendency to jealously guard our independence. In our 60s and even 70s, the idea that we might need a little help one day seems ridiculous. After all, we’ve done pretty well so far, thank you very much!
The problem is that many of the challenges that we face as we get a little older have a tendency to creep up on us. We may not even notice that our balance isn’t what it used to be or that our bones aren’t as dense as they once were… until the unexpected happens.
Of course, everyone is different and I’m not saying that there is a specific age at which we should consider making the leap from “independent living” to “assisted living.” I know women in their 60s who have medical issues that require constant care. I also know women in their 80s who go for a 5-mile run or play tennis every day.
If you feel like you might need a little extra help in the next few years, it may make sense to choose a facility that can grow with you. Your doctor can probably give you a good idea of the kinds of issues that you might face. Either way, there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. The most important thing is to find a senior living solution that maximizes your happiness in the years ahead!
What other slightly uncomfortable questions do you think we should all ask before choosing a senior living community? What are you most looking for in an independent living or assisted living community? Please join the conversation.