When senior couples begin to experience significant health changes, it alters the dynamic at home. One partner may still be active and mobile, but the other may be increasingly affected by age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis or diabetes. Usually, the more able partner becomes the caregiver for the other, until the caregiving tasks exceed what they can provide.
In many cases, when two people have been together for a long time, the ability to keep living together will be the deciding factor in whether they move to senior living for couples. It’s a wrenching decision for one person to live in a care facility while the other lives at home alone. Along with simply missing the person they’ve spent their life with, separation compounds anxiety for the one, and can cause a worsening of symptoms for the other. Fortunately, senior living for couples can be the answer.
When Senior Couples Have Different Care Needs
Nowadays, senior couples with different care needs can choose to move to a Life Plan Community, which is designed to provide a variety of senior living options. They’ll live together in the same residence, with one partner continuing to live independently while the other receives the healthcare he or she needs at home. In the event of an emergency, or if more care is eventually needed, couples can access the full spectrum of senior living options located on the same campus. A Life Plan Community normally offers a continuum that includes:
- Independent living A form of residential living for older adults who don’t need assistance. It’s ideal for seniors seeking a vibrant social environment.
- Assisted living Personalized help with activities of daily living. This can range from a little help getting out of bed and getting dressed in the morning to medication administration and management.
- Skilled nursing Short-term and/or long-term care for complex medical conditions, which may also include rehabilitation and therapy after surgery or illness.
- Memory care Specialized care for individuals affected by cognitive loss and dementias such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
When a couple can move together to a Life Plan Community, it makes the initial decision and subsequent transitions much easier.
Seven Benefits of Senior Living for Couples
When health conditions dictate a couple live separately in a Life Plan Community, partners are still able to visit as often as they want, as they’re only a short distance away. They can participate in activities and dine together, but one has respite in their residence, while the other gets the high level of care they need.
With their partner receiving appropriate care, the other half of the couple can focus on their own health and build a supportive social network. They’re surrounded by staff and neighbors who care about them and will look out for them.
Communities usually offer a discount when two people occupy a residence. This “second-person fee” lowers the cost of independent living, making it much more affordable for couples.
- Maintenance-free lifestyle
A senior living residence is smaller and easier to manage than a large house with a yard. Services such as housework, lawn maintenance and appliance repair are included in the monthly fee.
It can be challenging for couples to prepare nutritious meals, especially if one of them has dietary restrictions. Dining services in a senior living community support individual choices for healthy eating at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Less stress
Decluttering, selling a home, and moving to senior living for couples only needs to happen once. It’s easier to settle in and make friends knowing a future disruptive move isn’t necessary.
Independent living is activity focused, not healthcare focused. For couples where one partner only needs a little help, amenities such as a fitness center and pool and the calendar of social activities offer opportunities for the other to nurture their quality of life.
It can be challenging to choose the right type of senior living option for one person, let alone a couple. But the goal is to avoid being separated, and to minimize costly and stressful transitions to higher levels of care. By keeping partners together, and providing the right care for their individual well-being, senior living for couples supports their lifetime of love.
Where You Live Matters is powered by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a respected voice in the senior housing industry. ASHA primarily focuses on legislative and regulatory advocacy, research, and educational opportunities and networking for senior living executives, so they can better understand the needs of older adults across the country.