Quality of life is important at every age. However, finding that quality can change as we go through different stages of life. Of course, quality of life means something different to everyone because everyone values different life domains and experiences. But for most older adults, quality of life means having choice, purpose, and emotional comfort through connections with friends and peers.
While many adults are choosing senior living as a part of their future plans thanks to the perks of maintenance-free living and easy access to luxury amenities, what they end up finding is a better quality of life, especially when they choose assisted living.
How Assisted Living Can Improve Quality of Life
At Arbor, we’ve watched countless seniors thrive and blossom in senior living. Some of our residents were once reserved and anxious, but upon transitioning to senior care, they found a new sense of purpose and meaning. It never gets tiring to see how the right mix of social opportunities, health resources, and personalized support can create the best environment for residents to truly flourish.
Life in a senior living community is nourishing, comfortable, and fun. Residents feel empowered, supported, and ready to take on the future. Some of the many benefits of senior living include:
Living alone can be profoundly isolating. For some seniors, this isolation often comes with a hefty dose of anxiety. Your loved one might worry about what will happen if they fall, who will help if there is an intruder in the house, or how they will get to their next doctor’s appointment. Your loved one may be left alone with their worries, unwilling to voice them for fear of stressing out family members. And if they have dementia, living alone can trigger anxiety-related pacing and repetitive behaviors.
Assisted living offers your loved ones a safe place where they can get help when they need it, spend time with other seniors, and feel like a valued member of a community. That means less anxiety — and fewer anxiety-related problems.
Loneliness feels awful, especially when there’s no clear end to the loneliness in sight. Seniors who have spent their lives working or caring for others may feel abandoned and discarded if they live alone or have limited contact with others. These feelings can lead to depression and hopelessness. They may also harm their long-term health. Loneliness is a serious public health crisis that some doctors have compared to smoking or obesity. Living with other seniors means less loneliness, which can mean better health.
More Social Connections
Assisted living is about more than just living near other seniors. The best communities actively work to foster meaningful, lasting relationships between neighbors through shared meals, programs, and opportunities. Your loved one may meet a lifelong best friend in assisted living. With so many seniors living so close together and enjoying so many shared activities, your loved one is sure to find someone whom they click with. Some seniors even find a second (or third or fourth) shot at love. Though if you’re already happily partnered, you can both find fulfillment together in an active senior living community.
An Active Lifestyle
Exercise is a key ingredient in the recipe for a healthy life. But with age and infirmity, physical activity can become more difficult. Your loved one might not feel safe walking around the neighborhood alone. They might worry about a fall when lifting weights, not know how to get transportation to a yoga class, or simply lack the motivation to get moving on their own. Assisted living makes exercise fun and low-key by offering a wide range of exercise classes, physical activities, and community outings.
New Learning Opportunities
Seniors are never too old to learn new skills. Indeed, research consistently shows that seniors who master new skills are happier, healthier, and have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s. This makes it easy to pick up a new skill by taking advantage of a wide range of classes. Your loved one won’t have to worry about looking up events at the local senior center and then finding transportation. They can just walk downstairs to find a life-enriching course full of new friends.
Healthy and Delicious Food
Better nutrition can mean a better life. Foodies may crave excellent meals but not have time or energy to prepare their own food. People with special nutritional needs may lack the knowledge or budget to prepare quality food. Assisted living offers an easy solution. Seniors can enjoy gourmet meals all day, every day, eating food in a gorgeous restaurant-like setting. Food writers are increasingly paying attention to senior living as chefs offer innovative approaches to healthy, nutritious eating.
Decreased Dependence on Family
Family is supposed to be there for you in good times and bad times. But when the help and support only runs one way, it’s easy for seniors to feel frustrated and even lose self-esteem. Most seniors want to continue being the family figurehead, offering wisdom, guidance, and support. When they have to rely on kids or grandkids to manage daily tasks, that goal becomes elusive. Moving into senior living restores a sense of dignity and can fundamentally rebalance seniors’ relationships with the people they love most.
But assisted living doesn’t just improve quality of life for residents. It can also greatly improve quality of life for their family members, especially if those family members were in some type of caregiving role. Caregiver burnout is a very real phenomenon, especially among exhausted and ill-equipped family members. Burnout can lead to mental and physical health problems for the family member, leaving them unable to fulfill their caregiving duties. When a senior moves to assisted living, the resident gets the assistance they need, and the family caregiver gets a well-deserved break from their caregiver role, which can increase their own personal health.
Is It Time for Assisted Living?
Is assisted living your best senior living choice? Maybe. The best way to know for sure is to take stock of current routines and challenges as well as speak with a physician.
If you are curious if assisted living is right for your loved one, you can start by taking a quick inventory of your own caregiving tasks or role. Here are some signs that assisted living might be the best option for your loved one:
- The demands of caregiving are becoming more stressful and unhealthy.
- Caregiving is undermining your relationship with your loved one or with other family members.
- Your loved one needs help with daily tasks, such as bathing and dressing.
- Your loved one has a progressive disease that will likely get worse, and you do not have enough time or resources to spend on caregiving.
- Your loved one lives alone but no longer drives.
- Your loved one seems anxious, lonely, or depressed.
- Your once-vibrant loved one now spends most of their time alone at home but wishes they had the energy or resources to do more.
- You’re spending more and more time tending to home maintenance tasks, or your loved one no longer has the budget to care for their own home.
- Your loved one can’t live alone, but you don’t want them to live with you.
- You think your loved one needs more friends and support, but you don’t know how to help them achieve that goal.
- Your loved one’s doctor says they need in-home help or assisted living.
- Your loved one has developed unhealthy behaviors.
- Your loved one has early-stage dementia and has begun making risky decisions.
- Your loved one is at a high risk of falling and lives alone.
If you think assisted living might be right for your loved one, it all begins with a conversation. Try talking to your loved one about all that it can add to their life. The goal should be for them to see it as a form of enrichment, not a loss of independence, and certainly not something that is being forced upon them.
Remember, assisted living is not the only senior living solution available to you or your loved one. It’s just one type that benefits more than 800,000 adults across the country. However, there are multiple solutions available to meet your loved one’s challenges and budget.
For help beginning the conversation, download our free guide, “Talking to Your Parent About Senior Care & Living.”