Life expectancy has steadily increased over the recent decades in America, and marriages are lasting and going strong well into couples’ golden later years. As a result, when it comes time to decide upon a needed assisted living arrangement or relocation, fewer seniors have to enter into this next phase of life alone.
Senior couples may have to decide together where to situate themselves in order to live comfortably and get the medical care they need. This can also be tricky as both spouses may have very different health care requirements or varying requirements for assistance. Both spouses will surely want what is best for the other, but sometimes that becomes complicated when one spouse suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s, and the other has taken it upon his or herself to stay and assume a care taking role.
Here are a few helpful guidelines for couples selecting the most appropriate assisted living option available.
Do Your Research Early
Couples can save a lot of stress by getting ahead of the game by doing a little research before assisted living becomes a pressing issue, talking it out and agreeing on a place. Knowing what you’re getting into and having a secure plan before any sudden accident or unexpected problem forces you to think fast or limits your insurance options can make the idea of assisted living much less scary or confusion, and might even give you something to look forward to as a couple if you find somewhere that seems to meet all of your mutual requirements.
Having a long-term plan for security is part of being prepared and thinking ahead. This entails planning in advance, maybe setting aside some money, saving, or doing whatever else you can to be in a financially secure position to be ready for any possible future adjustment to assisted living.
Residential couples are often charged for one room, with fee lodging for the second person. The average cost per month for room and board is around $1500, plus charges for any extra care as needed. And many senior care communities allow couples to receive and be charged only for the care they need on an individual basis, instead of charging an overall blanket to cover both spouses. Pricing levels are tiered, with lesser-needed assistance on the lower pricing tier. For those seeking a more high-end lodging experience, private one-bedroom apartments for assisted living go for a median rate of $2,575 a month according to the Assisted Living Federation of America. Two-bedroom apartments and multiple bedroom suites are offered at some more luxurious facilities as well for those with greater space needs who can afford an upcharge.
Prepare For the Changes
Making the transition as a couple, to a new life at a senior care facility will require mental preparation and some lifestyle adjustments to anticipate. Modern assisted living communities aim to preserve a sense of independence for their residents, however there will certainly be some changes to adapt to with new routines and social spheres present in this next phase of life. It is imperative to become versed in the routines, regulations, and rules of the land for your prospective senior care facilities when doing your research. A senior couple may enter a facility knowing no one but each other, so socializing and making friends will be necessary to budding into the community. Most senior care residents are widowed, so couples starting a life in assisted living together are fortunate to have someone to have to talk to from the start. But senior care communities are generally quite friendly and sociable with people entering from all walks of life to share rich stories of life’s well lived.
Consider Both Partners’ Needs
When researching prospective facilities, a senior might discover one that’s perfect for him—but maybe not his wife so much, or vice-a-versa. Selecting an arrangement (like every other major decision in a marriage) may require some compromises on both parts to accommodate the preferences and comforts of both partners to call a place home. Please be considerate of the personal and shared needs (emotional, physical, privacy, hobbies, relational, sociable) for both spouses. It is also helpful for couple to look into finding activities or things they can do together, like fitness programs or available interest-clubs.
Range of Senior Living Options
There are several types of senior care options that vary in the degree and extensiveness of care and independence available for residents. Overview these terms when doing your research regarding the sort of assisted living you as a couple are looking for.
- Independent Senior Living – An option for couples who require little-to-no assistance with daily activities (driving/medicine/food).
- Assisted Senior Living – An option for couples looking for a maintenance-free life-style, but can see they might need a little help now or in the future. This option is a combination of amenities and hospitality services, along with basic care services such as medication management and personal assistance with daily activities such as dressing or showing, as well as basic nursing and dementia care.
- Continuing Care Retirement Community– allows seniors to live independently in single-family homes, apartment, condos, and then transition into a assisted living centers when it becomes necessary.
While it may for the moment be a touchy subject, and a little inconvenient it is best to be prepared and educated on assisted living options for the future. Try not to leave the responsibility of relocating entirely in the hands of your children, so you can have some say in choosing a living arrangement that is better suited to your preferences and level of comfort as a couple.