Choosing Senior Living for Couples
With Americans living longer than ever, “in sickness and in health” can go decades beyond retirement age for many married couples. Approximately 70% of men and 44% of women aged 65 and over are married according to U.S. Census data. That means the majority of couples will face important decisions related to their changing personal, health care and social needs as they age.
Whether a couple decides to age in place or move to a retirement community together, senior couples should look at a number of factors to choose the right senior living option.
What is Aging in Place?
Seniors may decide to stay in their own home—or age in place—as they get older. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends planning ahead by thinking about the type of help you might want or need in the future. This may include help with personal care, activities of daily living, household chores, meals, money management and health care. Whether help comes from your spouse, an adult child or licensed professional, it’s important to have a plan in place as one—or both—spouse’s needs can change over time.
Often, a family member at home provides this type of personal care. While enlisting a family caregiver for support has many benefits, caring for an aging loved one can also place a significant strain on the caregiver and their families over time—mentally, physically and financially. At-home care services may also require home modifications and adaptations to ensure maximum safety and mobility.
Choosing a Senior Living Community
Deciding to make the move to senior living is a major decision. As a couple exploring senior living options, you may have different care needs or want a variety of amenities in a community. Before making a decision, ask about licensing to determine the highest level of care a community can provide and how the senior living campus is structured. You may want to consider a retirement community that offers varying care levels on the same campus or within the same building to avoid another move—or possibly separate living accommodations for couples—if needs change.
When fully licensed, these residential long-term care options can accommodate varying care needs for senior couples:
- INDEPENDENT LIVING: Independent living communities can be a good choice for healthy, active seniors who do not require assistance with activities of daily living or health care but want a low-maintenance lifestyle. The biggest difference between independent living and an active adult, or 55+, retirement community is the addition of hospitality services. Independent living communities generally provide convenient daily meals, linen services and light housekeeping services that can make lives even easier.
When exploring independent living options, ask about licensing and if there is an option for assisted living facilities or other care levels on campus. Finding a place that can still accommodate you or your partner if needs change for one or both of you can head off another stressful move in the future.
- ASSISTED LIVING: Assisted living communities provide services and amenities similar to independent living, but they are licensed to provide care. Residents have the opportunity to enjoy a high quality of life, with purposeful daily activities and socialization, while also receiving caregiving from trained employees and prompt access to emergency or medical care when needed.
Assisted Living communities typically provide 24-hour caregiving support, but if you are managing a chronic condition, such as diabetes, that may require a higher level of care, ask if the community has a licensed nurse on site 24/7. A nurse will be able to administer injections, help with medication management, facilitate conversations with telemedicine doctors or other care providers and take doctor’s orders, reducing the number of unnecessary trips to the ER and hospital.
- MEMORY CARE: Memory care is a more comprehensive form of senior living that provides specialized support for people with cognitive issues, such as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
While there are stand-alone memory care facilities, many assisted living residences also offer specialized memory care programs designed to provide an engaging, safe and secure environment for residents at every phase. This may be a better option for senior couples who want to continue to live together, even though their long-term care and cognitive support needs vary.
Belmont Village’s communities are licensed to provide the highest level of care across independent living, assisted living and memory care. This unique range of care allows couples with different care needs to stay together while receiving the right care for each. This also means you don’t have to worry about what to do if changes happen or you need more support. At Belmont Village, you don’t have to move to another building—or even down the hall. You can continue living in your apartment while receiving the care you need.
To learn more about Belmont Village and our senior living options, contact Susan Berger, Family Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-781-0539. We’re here to help.