There are endless questions to ask and aspects to consider when comparing senior living communities to living at home. Although the task may seem overwhelming, having a guide can make these conversations feel much more manageable. Here are 10 things you need to consider when deciding if staying at home or moving to a senior living community is right for you.
Wherever you live, safety is typically everyone’s primary concern. Take time to consider what potential hazards are in your home that could lead to falls or could become difficult to access if your mobility becomes limited. Similarly, how will you call for help in the event of a home or medical emergency? Would you be able to evacuate safely if there was a fire?
All of these questions surrounding the safety of your environment are crucial to analyze. If you feel that your home may have potential safety hazards, are these things you could change or will moving become necessary in the future?
Spending time with others is an important part of creating healthy social and emotional connections. As we age, finding others in a similar stage of life that we connect with deeply can be challenging. Transportation can be another barrier that prevents us from spending time with those we hold dear or participating in activities that we enjoy.
Would having activities and outings planned for you encourage you to engage more often? Would eliminating the need for transportation, or having it provided, increase your ability or likelihood to participate in social activities? Would living in close proximity to other retired seniors enable you to build new, genuine friendships?
3. Physical Health
Maintaining physical health is a key pillar to enjoying a fulfilling lifestyle at any age. This includes staying current with medical appointments, taking medication if needed, and remaining physically active in whatever capacity is feasible for you. Consider the ways that you can stay active such as going to a gym, using exercise equipment at home, or walking around your neighborhood.
Are you currently able to participate in these activities independently or do you need assistance? Do you have limited mobility or anticipate limited mobility in the future? How will this change your ability to be physically active or attend medical appointments independently?
4. Cognitive Decline
Acknowledging and identifying cognitive decline can be difficult. Often, we do not notice these small changes on our own, and close friends and family may not see us often enough to notice these little changes either. If cognitive decline is something you are experiencing now or worried you may experience in the future, it is important to have someone trustworthy checking in on you regularly. If cognitive decline does become part of your daily life, ensuring that you continue engaging with others is crucial so you do not become isolated.
Do you have at least one person who regularly checks on you to ensure your health and safety? Is there a group of similarly situated friends or family you regularly socialize with who may notice a cognitive decline before it becomes unmanageable?
Prepping, storing, and cooking food can become a burden as we age. Simple acts such as bending down to reach the back of a cabinet, standing at the counter to chop vegetables, and balancing to put a dish into the oven can become physically taxing. At times, even cutting and eating your food can become a challenge. This can often make skipping a meal seem like the easiest solution, but this can quickly become detrimental to your health. Although dine-in, take out, and delivery are also options for dining, they often come at a financial and physical cost. It may be helpful to consider if you want to continue cooking and buying your own food or if it would be more beneficial to have meals cooked for you.
At Arbor Terrace Marlton, Dining with Dignity® is an exceptional system designed to cater to each resident’s specific dining needs. Nutritious meals are prepared by our chefs with special preparation techniques to ensure residents can enjoy their meal with independence and dignity.
Are you happily able to prepare and cook your own food everyday? If not, is there someone who can consistently do this for you? Would having restaurant-quality food just outside your door encourage you to eat more nutritious meals more often?
6. Medicine Management
Keeping track of medications can be tricky. Ensuring that each dose is taken correctly and on time is essential for your health and wellbeing. Making sure you do not run out of medication is also important to avoid any lapses. When beginning a new medication, it can also be nerve racking if you are alone without someone to check for or assist with unexpected side effects.
If there is someone trustworthy in your home or nearby who can consistently help you with medicine management, you may not have an issue remaining at home. However, if you are experiencing difficulty with missing doses, taking incorrect doses, forgetting refills, having reliable transportation to get refills, or feeling nervous taking new medication alone, you may want to strongly consider a senior living community. There, a team of trained staff can assist you with medication management to ensure your medicines are handled with care and precision.
Cost is likely one of the main factors when deciding to move or not move out of your home, but maybe not in the way that you may think. Although moving to a senior living community would be an expense, it is typically a fixed expense so you know how much you will be expected to pay ahead of time. On the contrary, remaining at home can often come with a variety of unexpected and costly expenses. Beyond your rent or mortgage, there is also food, transportation, entertainment, potential home health visits and accessibility updates, general upkeep and maintenance of interior, exterior, and appliances.
These seemingly hidden costs of aging in place can add up quickly. Similarly, these costs will likely fluctuate over time, depending on the age of your home and appliances as well as the economy. Check out our cost calculator to provide a more accurate estimate of what moving to Arbor Terrace Marlton, NJ senior living community would cost for you.
Home maintenance can often be expensive and time consuming. From small tasks such as dusting, vacuuming, and removing clutter to larger tasks like mowing the lawn, fixing plumbing issues, and laundry, every task takes time and energy.
Taking care of the interior and exterior of your home is also physically demanding. It often requires bending, crouching, reaching, lifting heavy objects, and navigating uneven terrain. If stability or mobility are currently or become a challenge, these tasks may not be manageable for you at some point. Are you able to care for the inside and outside of your home independently? If not, is there someone who can provide these services for you?
9. Assistance with Daily Tasks
Everyday tasks that used to seem uncomplicated can become difficult and frustrating as we age. From something small like buttoning your favorite shirt to navigating the stairs, a decline in fine and gross motor skills can affect many aspects of your life. In time, you may need assistance with dressing, laundry, cleaning, bathing, toileting, mobility, and preparing food.
As parts of your daily life may change in time, are you prepared to get the assistance you need? If you are living on your own, is there someone who can help you with daily tasks? Would your everyday life be less stressful and more enjoyable if you had consistent help with daily tasks?
10. Peace of Mind
For retired seniors and their families alike, having a well thought out plan for the future can reduce stress and usher in peace. Some families may feel guilty if their loved one moves into a senior living community, thinking that somehow they should have been able to care for that person on their own.
Instead, taking the time to discuss the pros and cons of living at home and moving into a senior living community can help unify your family as you make the decision that is best and most feasible for all of you. This allows you to truly enjoy moments together rather than worrying about what is happening next. By exploring your options from all perspectives, you can be certain that you made the most informed decision possible.
For the past three decades, The Arbor Company has been serving seniors, helping them determine if the move to a senior living community is right for them and creating neighborhoods where seniors enjoy engaging, active, fulfilling lifestyles. If you would like a more detailed guide that breaks down each concept and outlines even more thorough conversation questions to consider, download our free guide, Staying Home vs. Moving to Senior Living: What to Consider When Making Your Next move, now!