Discussing Retirement Communities The Sooner The Better

Assisted living in illinois

Adults with aging parents are often confronted with the weighty task of deciding how best to care for their one-time caretakers. The role reversal is often jarring and disorienting: a mother who has raised her son from infancy to adulthood must learn to work with him to make sure she is taken care of. Because of the newness of the process, and the inherent difficulty of navigating elder care options, the process can lead to hurt feelings and, in the worst cases, a break in the relationship. In order to effectively steer this ship safely into harbor, loved ones of the elderly must be well informed of the elder care options available.

Most seniors in retirement prefer to remain independent as long as possible, but for many, health needs require them to consider assisted living options. More than 75% of residents in assisted living situations suffer from two of the 10 most common chronic conditions. Among these, Alzheimer’s disease (as well as other types of dementia) and high blood pressure are the most common. For many seniors suffering from chronic conditions, independent living is simply not an option. Fortunately, many retirement communities are flexible and offer a continuum of care that changes as the needs of the resident changes.

And the health needs of seniors is almost certain to change over the course of retirement. The average age of retirement is 63 years old. The average age of death is 78 — 76 for men, and 81 for women. That leaves a long period of time in which health needs can change, often unexpectedly and suddenly. This is an important consideration for those comparing the pros and cons of different types of retirement homes: independent living, assisted lifestyle, nursing home communities, and many other combinations of all three.

While most seniors wouldn’t dream of leaving their longtime homes for independent living communities, it may not be a great idea to wait until necessity demands a move into assisted living. A 2009 report by ProMatura Group, LLC, reports that becoming part of an independent living retirement community makes you more likely to try new things and meet new people — critical factors in reported retiree happiness. Happy retirees generally engage in three to four activities regularly, whereas the least happy retirees only participate in one or two.

When considering elder care options, it is important to remember that if you wait until significant health problems exist to make the move into a retirement community, the decision is often taken away from you. Of course, many assisted living amenities include around-the-clock nursing care if necessary, so regardless of what stage of life your loved one is in, elder care options exist, and no one needs to be forced into a particular type of retirement community against their will. But the earlier you have that tough conversation with your mom or dad, the more possibilities will be open to you.

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