Aging in place may be the hot trend for seniors these days, but as we always remind radio listeners and seminar attendees, staying in your own home as you age might not be the appropriate choice for everybody. As if to reinforce that caveat, we have just discovered this revealing article from a website called HomeCare. The article, published last fall, describes a comprehensive survey conducted by Seattle-based senior living referral service A Place for Mom, revealing that a move to assisted living resulted in a dramatic improvement in quality of life for the great majority of seniors – even those reluctant to move in the first place.
According to the article, nearly three-fourths of families in the survey reported that the quality of life for a senior loved one had improved after making the move to assisted living. Ironically, the majority of these same seniors, more than 60 percent, had said they did not want to move out of their own home – but once they did, they showed physical and emotional improvements across the board, including better social well-being, emotional state, physical health and nutritional balance. Not surprisingly, the majority of caregivers also reported that their own lives had improved once their loved one was safely moved into assisted living.
Of course, the company A Place for Mom is in the business of referring people to senior housing, so we might expect them to have some bias – yet their argument may prove compelling for some people wrestling with the right housing decision for Mom or Dad. “There is a misperception in the marketplace that seniors are better off staying at home later in life, even when they need care and support,” said Charlie Severn, vice president of brand marketing at A Place for Mom. “What many families are surprised to learn is that not only do their parent’s lives improve, but also their own life situations can positively change from a move into an assisted living or other senior living community.”
Given that, why do families wait before investigating senior housing options? The two chief reasons are the desire of the loved one not to move, and the fear that the facilities out there are substandard. The survey showed that at least half of the responding families had started the search process with either a neutral or a negative perception of assisted living facilities in general. “Often, families may be hesitant to start looking into the process because of preconceived notions about senior care,” says Severn. “It’s important to start planning for senior living sooner rather than later as it can lead to a better outcome for everyone involved.”
According to the HomeCare report, the outcome for most seniors far exceeded expectations, with both seniors and family caregivers experiencing a positive change in overall quality of life after the move to assisted living. When comparing seniors who had moved to assisted living against those who were considering a move but still living at home, those who had moved were 70 percent more likely to report a good overall quality of life. Nearly three-fourths of families reported that a senior loved one’s quality of life got either “better” or “much better” after moving, with observed improvements in nutrition, social well-being, and emotional and physical health.
The seniors who moved weren’t the only beneficiaries. The analysis by A Place for Mom showed similar improvement in the quality of life for caregivers, most of whom said their stress had declined and work life had improved once their loved one moved. It’s also reassuring to note that half of respondents said their relationship with a parent or loved one had actually improved after their senior loved one had moved into assisted living.
In spite of cost concerns, most respondents said that the move into a senior housing facility had not affected their own finances negatively. The article explains why it may be true that moving to assisted living does not require sacrificing one’s own financial well-being. “While many families may be wary about the potential financial burden of relocating a senior into assisted living, they also may not realize the hidden costs of having a senior age at home.” The HomeCare article adds that “When families start paying for at-home care support on top of routine household maintenance, a move to an assisted living community can be comparable in cost while alleviating stress for family caregivers.” After a senior adult moves to assisted living, the survey reported that more than 70 percent of families felt no change in their financial situation. In fact, for some the move actually benefited the caregiver’s finances by allowing them to devote more energy to their primary job, with fewer distractions.
Are you or a loved one considering a move to assisted living? There are many resources out there to help you with the decision, including a 10-point checklist we found in this article on the website Caring.com. One of the main points of the article we’ve been discussing is that just because Mom or Dad doesn’t want to move, that’s not reason enough to put it off indefinitely. As A Place for Mom has shown, once the move to assisted living is completed, even skeptical seniors can come to appreciate their new living situation – and so will their families.
This article talks about two major issues we often bring up in our radio programs and seminars – housing choices and family communication. These are important components of the retirement planning strategy called LifePlanning. In your LifePlan, housing and family questions are interconnected with personalized medical, legal and financial plans to create a blueprint that allows you to build the retirement of your dreams. If you’re intrigued about how LifePlanning works, or if you have any retirement-related questions, we cordially invite you to join us at an upcoming LifePlanning Seminar near you – without cost or obligation. Click here for details and online registration, or call us for assistance during the week. Let us help you as you plan for a secure and fruitful retirement.
(originally reported at www.homecare.com)