There’s an old chestnut about a man who is underfoot all day once he retires. At loose ends, he attempts to rearrange the kitchen drawers or otherwise invade his wife’s domain, much to her chagrin.
Neither half of the couple, who’s been happily married for almost fifty years, knows how to manage once both of them are at home all day. Finally, the frustrated wife tells her spouse, “I married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch!”
Many seniors may be able to relate to this story. Fortunately, senior living communities are an excellent alternative when older couples have different needs and desires.
How Assisted Living Fills A Need
The burgeoning growth in the elder population has spurred senior housing designers to expand the options older adults want and need. Consider that a century ago, just one in 100,000 Americans lived past the age of 85.
Today, as the number of seniors outstrips the number of children for the first time in history, the “silver tsunami” has prompted changes in every dimension of life. By 2050, people over 85 will comprise a fourth of all older adults and five percent of the total American population.
In addition to living longer, seniors are generally healthier than ever before as well. But if one spouse needs assistance while the other is still working, or is itching to stay active when their spouse can no longer engage in the same activities they once enjoyed together, it can be challenging to accommodate both partners’ needs. Assisted living provides a solution.
In a “relationship-based” senior living community such as The Kensington Falls Church, a couple can age in place, knowing they will be cared for if their needs change or increase. Assisted living frees a healthy, energetic partner to enjoy social activities through our extensive life enrichment program, secure in the knowledge that their beloved spouse is safe, and being well cared for, within the assisted living community.
Before The Move: What You Need To Know
Obviously, it’s wise for you and your loved ones to start planning for a move to a senior living community well in advance of the move itself. Here are four smart steps to take:
- Start the conversation early, before any health issues become serious.
- Arrange a medical assessment for each partner, so you have a baseline from which to plan. A geriatrician (a doctor who specializes in caring for older adults) can be an excellent resource to help mature adults plan and prepare for such an important life decision.
Because a geriatrician is focused on aging — and familiar with the medical issues most likely to affect older adults — he or she will be able to accurately discern whether a move to assisted living will best serve each partner, if memory care might be needed, or whether some other alternative is the best option.
- Consider individual needs as well as shared (couple) needs and desires.
- Begin researching assisted living communities that can meet your evolving needs. While married couples are still a minority in assisted living communities, this number is projected to rise as seniors continue to live longer and healthier.
Be Prepared for Resistance, and Persevere
We can’t overemphasize how important it is to get your family member talking about the future early when they still consider themselves “young and healthy”. Perception of what “old” tends to rise as we age. Many couples well into their seventies today still view themselves as much younger — and may be reluctant or downright resistant to considering a time when their needs could change.
For example, one conscientious daughter attempted to get the ball rolling when her parents were in their mid-seventies, still enjoyed traveling abroad, and were in relatively good health, though her mother had a chronic condition that was managed with medication.
In their early eighties, the couple did attempt a brief visit to a continuing care retirement community that had advertised in their local paper. But when they arrived without an appointment, they were told no tours were scheduled that day, so they turned around and drove home. That was the extent of their research, and they refused to discuss the matter further.
A few years later, her mother experienced an initial episode of congestive heart failure (CHF). Hospitalizations and further CHF episodes followed. Her parents never got to move to a full-service assisted living community that could have supported both her mother and dad during her mom’s final years.
Marriage: The Best Dementia Protection
It’s worth noting that marriage itself is excellent tried-and-true medicine for protecting an older brain against the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Data from fifteen combined studies of more than 812,000 people worldwide showed that those who were widowed had a 20 percent higher risk of developing dementia than their married counterparts, and those who had never married had a 42 percent higher risk.
These findings correlate with research on elder “orphans”, social isolation and loneliness, and reaffirm the need for seniors who are widowed, never married, divorced, or otherwise solo to gather a tribe for their later years.
Assisted Living for Couples, and The Kensington Difference
At The Kensington Falls Church, we promise to love and care for your family as we do our own. We believe our assisted living and memory care communities are unmatched in fulfilling this pledge.
In addition to our enhanced wellness program and care model that enables residents to age in place, we provide services that help your loved one feel right at home in our lush surroundings, including a concierge service, transportation, a full-service salon, and five-star dining, lovingly prepared by our chef using only the freshest and healthiest ingredients. Of course, we accommodate special dietary needs.
We attend to our residents’ health care with the same degree of attention, so you can be confident your loved one will receive the highest level of medical expertise. We offer:
- Care coordination by a full-time registered nurse
- Licensed nurses onsite, 24/7
- Medication/diabetes management, including injections by licensed professionals
- Physical therapy and onsite fitness center
- Rehabilitation services, including physical, occupational, and speech therapies, offered by Genesis Rehabilitation
- Onsite physician
- Monthly health and wellness assessments
- Individualized care plans, tailored to personal wants and physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Whether your loved ones move to The Kensington while healthy and active, or needing some level of care, we’re ready to meet them where they are now, and support them as they continue to enjoy their later years in our premier senior living environment.
We look forward to welcoming you and your loved ones to The Kensington.
Photo by Elien Dumon on Unsplash