It is one of the greatest fears of seniors and boomers – leaving their homes and moving to a senior living community. Among other things, they fear a loss of independence, a loss of social opportunities and a loss of overall living space.
These are some of the myths that have surrounded senior living communities for a long time, and can impede the downsizing process. But the reality of what seniors and boomers will find in these communities is quite different. Let’s explore some of the common misconceptions associated with this downsizing option.
Myth #1 – Loss of Independence
The downsizing process is meant to allow seniors and boomers more freedom and independence to enjoy the things in life that are most precious to them – spending time with friends and family, volunteering with a favorite charity, or finally going on that mission trip with your church. However, the longstanding fear that moving to a senior living community will prevent that kind of independence often throws a monkey wrench into the whole process. Seniors and boomers worry that rules and restrictions within senior living communities will cramp their style, making it a less than ideal situation.
The other reality is that senior living communities are not that much different than living in your own home. There are not as many rules and restrictions in these types of communities as some seniors and boomers imagine. There is still freedom to come and go, attend events and eat out with friends or family. Senior living communities are all about making life more enjoyable, not putting a damper on it.
Myth #2 – Loss of Safety and Security
Some seniors and boomers worry that they won’t be safe if they choose to move to a senior living community. Because they have always felt safe in their own homes, they feel that remaining in their own place is the best way to ensure their ongoing safety and security.
The reality is that continuing to live in your current home may not only not be what is best for you – it may put a strain on your friends and family who will be required to provide the extra assistance needed to help you safely stay in your own home.
Aging in place is a great idea, but it is not ideal for everyone. A home that was purchased with marriage and raising a family in mind may no longer be suitable for the aging couple. Stairs can pose a safety hazard, and it may become a challenge to keep a large home and yard organized and in proper repair. Seniors living alone also tend to be more frequent targets of thieves and scammers. Staying in your own home is not a guarantee that you will never be a victim of crime.
Senior communities provide a level of security that isn’t available when living in your own home. Security monitoring systems are available in most senior living communities. Residents also can obtain emergency response pendants that can be worn and used while anywhere in the community. Most senior living communities provide levels of care, increasing safety and security measures as residents age.
Myth #3 – Loss of a Social Life
The fear of losing friendships and the ability to socialize and make new friends is among the most prevalent myths associated with senior living communities. Seniors and boomers worry that if they move to a senior living community, lifelong friends and family members will forget all about them and they will lose touch, leaving them alone and bored.
The reality is, not only will moving to a senior living community not interfere with your social life – it may actually boost it. Most senior living communities offer a plethora of social opportunities, ranging from nights out on the town to full-fledged group vacations to exotic locations. In addition to the ability to continue with old friendships, you may find yourself making new ones as well.
Myth #4 – Loss of Good Health
Whether you’re newly retired and still full of energy, or whether you are moving to a senior living community due to an unexpected illness or injury, there is always a fear that making the move will cause your health to go downhill.
The reality is, senior living communities provide a level of care that is not readily available – or affordable – for most to obtain in their own homes. Many communities offer continuing care, which means you could move there and reside in independent living housing, and still have a place to transition if your health deteriorates.
Studies also have shown that those who remain social and active during their senior years are less likely to become depressed and have a higher quality of life than their peers. Senior living communities make it easy to do both. Not only are there a number of opportunities to be social, but many also offer physical activities such as recreation centers, swimming pools and even exercise classes.
Myth #5 – Loss of Finances
Senior living communities can seem expensive, and many seniors and boomers worry they will deplete their life savings if they choose to live in one.
The reality is, it can actually be less expensive to live in a senior living community than in your own home, even if the mortgage on your home is paid off. Choosing to stay in your own home can increase your expenses, as help will need to be hired to assist with things like lawn care and home maintenance issues. Additionally, home health care also may become necessary, which is not inexpensive.
If you sell an existing home before downsizing to a senior living community, the profit on the home will go a long way in helping you to afford your new place. Some senior living communities also offer price flexibility and other move-in incentives which can save money.