Pros and Cons of Senior Living
Retirement and all it brings with it signals a significant change in a person’s life. Will you keep your family home or downsize? Do you want to move closer to family or find that dream condo you have always wanted? Maybe you want to find a living community where there are people your own age or where socialization is easier to access than current circumstances. In any or all of these situations senior living communities meet these needs and many more. But are they right choice for you? Not all senior living situations are equal and regardless of where they are located in the U.S., they represent a significant financial investment for you. Taking the time to carefully weigh the pros and cons of living communities is a smart, first step.
Senior living communities come in several types, so as a first step you must determine what your needs are. Do you require someone to assist you with daily tasks or are you fairly independent and active? Do you want a senior living situation that offers an “aging in place” feature. These types of communities have both an active adult section and a section for those requiring more supportive care. Use the following positives and negatives to determine whether you are ready for a senior living community, or if exploring other options are best.
Positive Aspects of Senior Living Communities
Cost of Living
All states in the U.S. have varying cost of living indexes. This is a simple indicator of how much it costs you to live in a certain area of the country. For example, the cost of living is higher in California compared to Kentucky. This means it costs you more to live in California than in Kentucky and your dollar goes further in the Bluegrass State. Regardless of where you live in the U.S. financial considerations are generally a top priority. To determine how much you have to spend on senior housing create a short list of monthly expenses and your income. Include the following:
Take those figures and do an internet search on various parts of the U.S. where you are considering living to see what the average rent is for an apartment in that area. This gives you a good idea of what you would pay if you moved there. However, one of the benefits of a senior living community is that very often the community bundles all of those expenses into one low price. For example, some senior living communities charge you $1,500 a month to live there, but it covers your rent, transportation, cleaning services, entertainment and utilities. Very often your meals are included in the pricing as well. If all the amenities cover your basic monthly needs and the cost comes in under what you are currently paying, then it may make perfect sense to move into a senior living community.
Safety and Healthcare Access
Many senior living communities offer full time access to a trained nurse or nurse practitioner who lives in the complex. This has the benefit of making health checks quick, easy and you do no have to worry about getting someone to take you to the doctor. In such cases the nurse practitioner is qualified to handle smaller medical issues, delegating larger issues and specialist treatment to trained healthcare professionals.
Senior living communities are often far safer than living in a rural, suburban or city location by yourself. Most are gated communities and have safety officers that routinely patrol in or around the area. Senior living communities very often have alarms and other security measures in place to make sure you and your valuables are well protected.
Socialization and Convenience
If you find yourself suddenly alone, or spending more time alone than you would like, then living in an active adult community may be attractive. In active senior communities, usually restricted to the over 55 years of age crowd, you can connect with others who share similar interests and who are around a similar age. Many experts state the number one cause of decline in older Americans is the lack of interaction with others. The convenience of enjoying a nice condo where all of the maintenance tasks are done for you can be very appealing.
Negative Aspects Concerning Senior Living Communities
Leaving Your Home
If you have lived in your home for most of your life leaving it can be traumatic and emotional. Leaving home also means placing the home in which your family lived on the market. Selling the home can also be an emotional time. If you are not ready to sell your home and move on, and if you do not view living in a senior living situation as a great adventure then perhaps it is not the best option for you. Most seniors do not have the financial reserve to keep both their old home and pay for the new living situation.
Costs and Healthcare Needs
While many senior living communities offer access to healthcare professionals, not all do. You may find yourself having to schedule transportation with the community shuttle any time you need to go see your doctor or specialist. Additionally, you may not like delegating your monthly check toward amenities you feel you may not ever use. In some instances the senior living community charges a flat fee for the rent but then if you wish to take part in anything additionally, there is an extra fee. Since there are few regulating organizations concerning senior living apartments it is up to the owner of the complex as to what is offered and to set policies regarding the use of the apartment and the services offered.
It pays to do your homework where senior living communities and safety are concerned. Each year hundreds of cases come before the court having to do with elder abuse. These cases reflect the practice of senior living community staff taking advantage of, or physically abusing, residents. The only way to know for sure that the senior living facility has a good reputation is to read reviews online, check with the better business bureau and to visit the community in person. If you believe you may not be able to extricate yourself from a situation involving abuse if you needed to do so, then a senior living community may not be the best choice for you.