Life expectancy is at an all-time high in the United States today. With the average American living to 78 years old, people are using this increased longevity to stay in the workforce longer, engage in their communities, and take part in a variety of activities, from spending more time with family to volunteer work.
However, as people age, their bodies and capabilities begin to change physically. Some of these changes can lead not only to the need for assistance with some activities of daily living, but also to safety concerns and a decline in overall quality of life. A few of the main physical changes that can affect a senior’s lifestyle include:
These physical changes will have an impact on seniors’ daily lives, affecting how they are able to get around and maintain their homes. For instance, decreased muscle strength can make simply climbing the stairs or putting away groceries difficult. Changes in vision and hearing might make driving safely to appointments or the grocery store impossible. Also, many seniors can find themselves somewhat socially isolated in their homes, especially if family or friends don’t live nearby.
The phrase “aging in place” can mean different things to different people. Often, the definition most people think of is to live out their senior years in their own homes, only receiving a small amount of assistance when it becomes necessary. However, it’s important to consider the vital role moving to a senior living community plays in successfully aging in place.
The key to maintaining the highest level of independence possible is to properly plan for future health needs. As seniors approach retirement, they need to start considering how they would like to spend their years after leaving the workforce, what their health care choices are, plan for any assistance they may need, and determine their wishes for the future.
Senior living communities are designed to help members stay engaged physically, mentally and socially. Some of the ways senior living communities provide an option for aging in place and maintaining the highest level of independence include:
Wellness programs and planned social activities. Maintaining physical fitness and building relationships are two keys to aging independently. Senior living communities offer wellness programs to help improve seniors’ posture and mobility, as well as help reduce the risk of falls. Plus, planned social events and activities help promote social engagement among members.
Lifelong learning for intellectual stimulation. Seniors can become especially susceptible to boredom when left alone to their own devices. Many senior living communities provide not only social and physical activities, but also opportunities that enrich members’ lives. Guest speakers are often brought in to present lectures, and many communities offer book clubs, art classes, computer training, and much more.
Nutritious meals. It can be difficult for a senior aging in place in the home to eat properly. After all, cooking for just one person can be challenging. Many senior living communities offer three meals a day, and those meals can be specifically designed to meet members’ particular health needs.
Strengthened family relationships. Family caregivers know their loved ones are safe and will receive a higher level of care should it become necessary, providing them peace of mind for the future. Plus, spending time together becomes more about enjoying quality time than about caregiving duties.
Maintaining or lowering stress levels. Keeping stress levels in check is also vital to healthy aging. In a senior living community, seniors don’t have to worry about maintaining a yard and often receive assistance with light household tasks. Transportation is also provided, easing the worry some seniors have about getting behind the wheel.