It’s not unusual for senior couples to have mixed reactions to the idea of moving to a senior living community. How do you move the conversation forward, especially when one of you is reluctant to even consider what comes next? Here are some questions that can help.
Start the Conversation
It’s never too early to talk about plans for your future. It is possible to wait too long, however. It takes time to research options, get your financial and legal affairs in order, and make a move. Waiting until you have to talk about it could force you and your family to make hasty decisions in a crisis.
Talking about “the future” can seem too overwhelming, too vague or too much to think about at once. If your loved one is reluctant to discuss it, try breaking things down into specific categories and asking strategic questions.
Questions to Ask Your Loved One
What should we do about potential health issues?
When you’re having a good day, it’s hard to imagine that will ever change. But health changes can happen – whether it’s loss of stamina or hearing, or something more debilitating like a heart attack or stroke.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of people over age 65 will need some form of long-term care in their lifetime. What will you do if one of you needs care? Family caregiving is common, but it comes with physical, emotional and financial costs. What happens if one of you can’t take care of the other?
Here are a few potential health problems you may want to plan for as you and your partner age:
- Reduced muscle strength, resulting in difficulty grasping or holding on to objects
- Mobility concerns brought on by conditions such as arthritis
- Heart disease
- Injuries from falls
- Osteoporosis, which can lead to debilitating fractures
At a senior living community, you can have quality health care and daily support when you need it. The question of where you’ll receive care and who’ll provide it is answered. It brings peace of mind to many couples who take comfort in the idea that if anything happens to them, they’ll be taken care of – and so will their loved one.
How can we improve our quality of life?
There’s a lot to love about retirement life, but it’s important to be proactive about making sure you’re getting the most out of it. Evaluate different elements of your current lifestyle and talk about how you might improve them.
- Social circles tend to shrink as you age, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Are you participating in regularly scheduled activities and entertainment that bring you together with others? What kinds of social opportunities would you enjoy?
- Lifelong learning keeps your mind sharper and opens up your world to new ideas and possibilities. Do you have convenient access to things like art classes, history lectures, cultural tours or even golf lessons? What kinds of classes would interest you?
- Wellness is about living a well-rounded lifestyle that nurtures your mind, body and spirit. Do you have regular opportunities for fitness programs like yoga, tai chi or aquatic classes? What about ways to share your knowledge or skills through volunteering?
A key advantage of senior living communities is having a wealth of interesting things to choose from every day. Through wellness programs and robust activity plans that cater to just about every interest, communities give you plenty of ways to thrive.
What about our finances?
You want to protect the retirement income you’ve worked so hard to earn. To do that, you need to not only look at your current expenses, but look further down the road at the kinds of expenses you’ll likely face – and discuss how you’ll pay for them.
- Health care costs keep rising. The cost of in-home assistance, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing rises each year. For example, according to the 2017 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the national median daily rate of a home health aide comes to over $40,000 annually. By 2022, that cost is projected to be more than $57,000. You may be surprised to learn that long-term care insurance and Medicare don’t pay for everything. If one or both of you need care, you need to be sure you can afford to get it.
- Living in your house may cost more than you think. Even if your mortgage is paid off, you still have home expenses.
- Repairs, maintenance and general upkeep cost you money – and effort. How long can you keep doing those tasks yourself?
- To remain safe and livable, will your home need any major repairs or upgrades, such as a new roof, new siding or electrical improvements?
- To keep your home safe as you age, AARP recommends installing nonslip flooring in the kitchen, bathroom and elsewhere; widening doorways; installing step-free entrances; and security and/or warning systems. You may also need grab bars or low-threshold tubs and showers. These items can easily add up to thousands of dollars.
Senior living communities offer ways to let you make a smart plan for your future.
- You can find quality, on-site health care at predictable rates – which means no worrying about what-ifs.
- Maintenance, repairs and yardwork are taken care of for you – so you don’t have the hassles or the expenses.
- There are tax benefits to choosing senior living, as well, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.
Explore Options Together
Plan a heart-to-heart conversation soon. Ask your loved one to help research different options so you can have an informed discussion. Together you can learn more about life at a senior living community and talk about what aspects of it matter most.
Another step you can take is to visit nearby communities together. It’s a great way to get a feel for community life and overcome negative stereotypes your loved one may be hanging on to. Start your search here.