When asked, most seniors express a preference to age in place. But when illness, injury, or disability makes it difficult to live alone, it may be time to consider a senior community.
Today, senior living and assisted living communities are a far cry from the outdated image of a sad and overcrowded “retirement home”. Many senior living communities can feel like a luxurious, all-inclusive, high-end hotel or cruise ship while offering all of the comforts of home.
Seniors who make the move to an assisted living community often report improvements to their overall quality of life. And that’s not the only benefit that comes along with a move to a senior living community.
1. Overall Quality of Life
Seniors who moved to assisted living communities were 70% more likely to report a good or very good quality of life than non-community seniors, according to a 2016 Family Quality of Life report by A Place for Mom.
An Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) survey of 500 seniors living in assisted living communities found widespread satisfaction for almost every aspect of life in their communities.
The ALFA survey found that 94% of assisted living residents say they are satisfied with their overall quality of life in their assisted living community.
2. Better Nutrition
73% of families report improvement in a senior’s nutrition after moving to an assisted living community.
Malnutrition can be a serious concern for seniors.
According to Tufts University, getting older creates obstacles to eating well at the very time it’s most important to do so. When seniors don’t eat enough, don’t eat the right foods, or lose the ability to absorb certain nutrients, it can cause physical decline or exacerbate pre-existing conditions.
Driving to a store, shopping for groceries, and preparing meals can become more difficult for aging seniors, especially when they have illnesses, injuries, or disabilities.
Depression and isolation can also make it harder for seniors to cook for themselves.
Senior living communities often include 3 meals a day prepared in-house by professional chefs, enjoying a fine dining experience every day. Assisted living services can include grocery shopping and meal prep help for seniors who still would like to make their own meals in their apartments.
When having nutritional needs met is as easy as joining neighbors in the dining room, it becomes much easier for seniors to stay healthy and avoid malnutrition.
3. Improved Social Life
64% of families report improvement in the senior’s social well-being after moving to an assisted living community.
Older adults who live alone become at risk for isolation, which can cause serious health concerns for seniors. Social isolation and loneliness are associated with increased mortality and adverse health effects including dementia and increased risk of falls in older adults.
Most senior living communities encourage socialization by design. Community gathering areas, scheduled activities and events, and community dining all provide opportunities for seniors to come together, meet new friends, and form relationships with peers.
Of course, if you value your independence, you don’t have to give that up in a senior community. According to the ALFA survey, 93% of assisted living residents say they are satisfied with the level of personal independence they enjoy in their community.
4. Caring Staff & Community Quality
For most independent and assisted living consumers, community quality is their top priority, above affordability or neighborhood considerations.
Making community quality a top priority pays off in terms of resident satisfaction; according to the ALFA survey, senior living residents are very happy with their communities and staff:
• 93% of assisted living residents say they are satisfied with the level of personal attention paid to them by staff.
• 90% of assisted living residents say they are satisfied with the overall quality of care they receive.
• 87% of assisted living residents say the workers in their community are well trained and well qualified to do their job.
• 86% of assisted living residents say the workers in their community “care about me as a person.”
5. Less Stress for Family Members
64% of families report feeling less stress about the senior after a move to an assisted living community.
Caregiver stress - the emotional and physical stress of caring for one’s spouse, parent, relative or non-relative - is very common.
• 40%- 70% of family caregivers report clinically significant symptoms of depression.
• Roughly 40% of family caregivers find their situation highly stressful, while an additional 25% report moderate stress.
• Those caring for a spouse or parent have reported higher emotional stress than those caring for another relative or non-relative.
Moving a spouse, parent, or relative to an assisted living community can feel like a tough decision for caregivers. If your spouse or parent has expressed a desire to remain in their home, it can add even more stress and feelings of guilt to a caregiver who is considering alternatives.
Remember that the benefits of a senior living community extend to the family members of residents, as well. Knowing that your spouse, parent, or relative is getting the nutrition, care, socialization, and daily help they need can be a tremendous relief.
Senior Living Communities: A Senior Care Option with Big Benefits
Many surveys and studies have shown that, while seniors often say they would rather stay at home, they’re better off once they move to an assisted living community - especially when it comes to their overall quality of life, quality of their nutrition, and their social well-being.
Senior living and assisted living communities are a senior care option that can bring big benefits to not just to the seniors who move there - but to their family members and loved ones, too.