A lovely couple in their early 90’s contacted me in September, about selling their house and moving into a senior community. They were both blessed with good health, but were finding it difficult to keep up with the house and yard. They were also finding themselves more and more isolated and wanted to meet new friends. The husband was in no hurry to move, but his wife was past ready! They had a very specific list of requirements, including an area for their two dogs, and a garage for his “baby” a classic BMW that he kept in immaculate condition. Finding a community that accepts dogs is easy, but the garage was a bit of a challenge. We visited two communities that they liked, but struck gold on the third community. It was a PERFECT match with a two car garage! The wife was delighted and ready to move in, but the husband became overwhelmed about all that needed to be done to sell their house and move.
Moving is stressful at any age, imagine if you are in your 90’s! No worries…I knew who to call, my friend and realtor extraordinaire, Tricia Spurrier with The Spurrier Group. Tricia has spent her career working with seniors and I knew that she would have the patience to hold their hand through this process. She answered all of their questions and put together a step by step plan to sell their home and ease their transition to their new senior community. I’m so excited for this couple, and I know they will love their retirement lifestyle. Searching for senior housing on your own is overwhelming and confusing. To ensure that you find a community that checks off everything on your list, it’s best to contact an expert. My service guides you through the seniorhousing maze to help you find the perfect community…and I can connect you with resources to help make your transition a piece of cake!
On our Podcast/YouTube show, “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Senior Living”, Gail Peacock and I have been focusing on today’s seniors and how they are redefining what “old age” looks like.
My grandparents seemed old, when they were in their 60’s, but seniors today in their 60’s, 70’s and beyond are enjoying active, vibrant lives. Of course, we have better health care, nutrition and exercise to thank, but there has also been a shift in mindset. Many of today’s seniors are rejecting the idea of spending their days in a rocking chair and choosing to travel, continue working, learn new skills, or even go kayaking!
Gail and I had the pleasure of interviewing Glenda Lansford, an incredible senior who exemplifies all of the above. Glenda lives in an Active 55+ Senior Living community, and one of the first things that she shared with us was that she wants to go kayaking. Yes, kayaking! It’s one of the activities offered by her community. In her 70’s, Glenda still works part-time, goes to water aerobics, social hours, out to dinner, etc. She is full of life and always on the go. The link to the full interview with Glenda is below. Be sure to watch it and see what “old age” redefined looks like.
You may have lived in your home for 30+ years, creating a lifetime of beautiful memories. Now, the kids have moved out, and you’re left with the upkeep of a house that’s too big for just you and your spouse. The thought of cleaning out closets and downsizing can be overwhelming, but maybe it’s time to simplify your life and consider moving to a senior living community?
Why Move to a Senior Living Community?
1. Freedom from yard work and home maintenance
If you’ve been in your home for many years, odds are you have a repair man on speed dial. Appliances break, roofs have to be replaced (thank you hail damage), yardwork needs to be done, and the list goes on. In a senior living community you will live a maintenance-free lifestyle. A/C goes out? Not your problem!
2. Pay ONE monthly price for most of your expenses
Owning your home is expensive…in addition to those pesky home maintenance expenses, take a minute to add up your monthly living expenses–utilities, cable and internet, plus your property taxes and insurance. Once you add up all your expenses, and compare it to the cost of senior housing, you may be surprised.
Depending on the type of senior living community you select, meals may also be included. You might even want to ditch your car since almost everything you need is located on-site and transportation services are available. Another way you save money.
3. Activities, Activities, Activities!
Do any of these appeal to you? Fitness classes, Movie night, Happy Hour with Professional Entertainment, Water Aerobics, Walking Club, Bible Study, Gardening, Painting class, Cooking demos, Poker, and the list goes on. In a senior living community you can choose to be involved in one or all of these activities…and they’re only steps away from your apartment door!
4. Make New Friends
Many seniors can become isolated when they remain in their own home. Perhaps they’ve been widowed, or dear friends have moved out of the area or passed away. As you become active in your new senior living community you will meet other seniors with common interests. They may even encourage you to try something new, like a country line dancing class…or an outing to the symphony.
5. Make the transition to Senior Living while you’re still healthy
Unfortunately, too many seniors wait until it’s too late to make a move. Many let the fear of the unknown keep them stuck in a unhealthy situation. No matter your age, you can still live an active lifestyle, engaging with new friends and learning new things. That’s what keeps us young!
Now you’re ready, but where do you start?
Easy! Let’s schedule a time to talk and find out what type of senior living community best fits your needs and budget. We will make an action plan together, including getting a realtor out to help get your house listed. I work with some excellent realtors who specialize in downsizing seniors. We will work as a team to help you transition into your stress-free lifestyle.
You likely hear these terms all of the time…senior living, 55+, active living, but what does it mean?? I can give you a list of amenities, but I’m visual and I would bet that most of you are too. My friend Gail Peacock and I host the YouTube/Podcast show “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Senior Living” and decided it would be both fun and educational to make a video of what life is like in a 55+ Active Living community. Check out the video…I hope you enjoy it! 🙂
I was interviewed for this article for Capital Senior Living (the Link is attached). Lots of great information.
For seniors, leaving the home they raised their children in or the dream house they built with a spouse may not be easy. Anywhere else may feel as though it will never measure up to the familiarity and comfort of their current setting. But if the time comes when you or your loved one has to seek another haven away from home, it’s important to know that comfort, familiarity and peace of mind can be found – sometimes in even greater capacities.
The Senior Living Misconception
Senior living is sometimes portrayed as dreary, cold and depressing with residents having no freedom. While that perception may have been the case 30 to 40 years ago, it couldn’t be further from the truth now. With those misconceptions overshadowing some of the empowering truths about senior living, many families and their older loved ones may be missing out on a period of genuine thriving.
Senior living expert Lori Williams of Lori Williams Senior Services, who has over a decade-long career in the industry, says that the main challenge surrounding the senior living climate is fear and that what the world needs is to be educated.
“When I talk to families, there’s a lot of education that goes into it,” Williams says. “They’ll call and say, ‘I need a nursing home for my mom,’ and there’s a lot of confusion there about what a nursing home is, what an assisted living community is and what senior living is as a whole.”
A more accurate understanding of Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care at communities across the U.S. could completely shake up the world’s views of senior living.
So, what truly is the difference between senior living at a community and in-home care?
Senior Living Options
The catalyst for making a move to a senior living community generally has to do with a person’s ability to accomplish activities in daily life – such as walking, bathing, dressing and eating – as well as instrumental activities of daily life including taking medications, managing personal finances, using a phone, shopping and meal preparation. Understanding the main types of care available in a senior living community will make the process much easier and more comprehensive.
Independent Living: This is exclusive housing for seniors 55 and older who do not require assistance with daily activities or 24/7 skilled nursing. Housing usually comes in the form of apartments, cottages, condominiums or single-family homes and have perks such as convenient services, a senior-friendly atmosphere and more opportunities for social interaction. Independent Living is like living on your own completely with nearby amenities for your convenience and safety.
Assisted Living: This type of community is where seniors live with a wide array of care options and services. Meals, transportation, socialization opportunities, medication management, housekeeping and more are offered amenities. Assisted Living is a much more practical and affordable way to get 24/7 care and supervision while still maintaining some freedoms and independence.
Memory Care: Designed specifically for seniors dealing with memory conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, these types of communities often come with additional care and supervision. From the dining options to the color of the carpet and walls of apartments, every detail is thought through for a Memory Care resident. It’s a decision meant for long-term care and requires a more hands-on approach medically and for activities of daily life.
Reality of In-Home Care
In-Home Care is when a caregiver is hired to watch over a senior in their own home, helping them with activities of daily living. It’s natural for many older adults to be reluctant to leave their home, making it a common occurrence for families to do everything they can to meet their loved one’s wish of staying there. Sometimes, this happens even when the level of care needed exceeds what they may be getting from an in-home caregiver.
“I run into this all the time, where everybody wants to stay at home,” says senior living expert Nancy Siegel of Senior Living Experts. Nancy has a 30-plus-year career that spans the nursing and healthcare industries. “No one ever wants to move into a community, but there are so many advantages to do so. They just need to be informed. Those who have children or family nearby, they’re constantly worried about them, having to check on them multiple times a day to make sure they’re OK. And the quality of care and caregiver reliability and loyalty are a lot more in question.”
Gail Peacock, another senior living specialist who works closely with Williams on their podcast Girlfriend’s Guide to Senior Living, agrees with Siegal in that happening upon the right caregiver can be a long and arduous process. “Finding talent isn’t easy,” Peacock says. “We, as specialists, have a hard time finding people wanting to work as caregivers who are loyal and won’t jump ship. It’s like ‘ghosting.’ You’re counting on this person to show up for your loved one, and anything could get in the way of that – their child is sick, they’re late, or simply a no-show. In a senior living community, however, if someone leaves, there is an entire staff to back you up.”
Another important factor to consider is socialization versus isolation. All three experts agree this is a priority.
“Socialization is so important, and they’re not getting that in their home,” Williams says. “These communities offer great opportunities to grow and take part in educational activities with peers.”
Peacock adds that it’s easy to become isolated at home, which means interaction fades and brain functioning slows a little, like a muscle not being exercised. Having the option to interact and take part in activities does wonders for mental, brain and emotional health.
Cost of Senior Living vs. In-Home Care
It’s another common misconception that in-home care saves money, while senior living is out of a budget. Senior living can actually alleviate many of the extra costs of daily life at home, ending up being more affordable than expected.
In-Home Care costs can include:
Hourly rate for the caregiver
Groceries and meal prepping
House expenses and upkeep
Personal care supplies
Rent, mortgage, property taxes
Home and yard maintenance
Utilities and water
“It all adds up,” says Siegel.
While amenities vary, most senior living communities provide basic cable and utilities, and costs associated with meals and transportation are included as part of monthly rent. Plus, financially preparing to move into a senior living community doesn’t have to be done alone, and neither does the actual move itself.
More Benefits of Senior Living
Here are a few more benefits to keep in mind while making this important decision:
Continuum of care: One of the benefits of senior living communities, especially at Capital Senior Living, is a continuum of care, meaning you can stay in the same community and transition from Independent Living to Assisted Living to Memory Care when appropriate. The level of care and number of services provided can be ramped up as needed because staff and resources already are in place.
Maintaining independence with convenient care nearby: “People think they’re going to lose their independence, but actually it makes them more independent,” Siegel says. In this way, seniors are no longer locked down to their house maintenance and money-pit expenses, nor are they stuck relying on themselves to be safe in transportation and even transferring across the house. Freeing up space in their minds for these worrisome factors allows room for creativity, freedom and thriving.
Family can focus on being family: No longer focused on scheduling appointments, hiring and managing caregivers, managing finances and obsessing over their senior loved one’s well-being, families can now focus on the relationship more than on the care needs. “Security, safety and peace of mind are really big,” Siegel says. “If something happens, there are people, nurses and staff who can come and help.”
How to Choose Your Care Wisely
Making this important choice of senior living vs. in-home care starts with laying out the specific needs of your senior. This is an ongoing, long-term decision that takes time to map out. Try to think through how much help you, your family and your neighbors can realistically provide and where that help may lack. You or your loved one may require more supervision or on-call assistance than what anyone nearby can provide on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis.
“For me, it’s about talking and having a conversation with the family on what the needs are,” says Peacock. “Is this decision need-based? Is it medical? Or is it just Independent Living where they need socialization? Find out what the needs are to qualify where they fit in the spectrum of care.”
Williams notes that every senior living community is not created equal, so some may have more activities that might interest your loved one than others. Perhaps one has more artistic activities while another has more exercise-based ones. It’s all about making the visit, asking the right questions, and, according to Peacock, going with your gut.
“People generally have a good gut, so trust it,” Peacock says. “If you walk into a place and you immediately feel certain vibes, follow that feeling. Do what I call ‘pulling under the porte cochere.’ Leave your car there, come in and put both feet on the floor. You’re going to be blown away by what you think is behind those doors versus what is really behind those doors. People are so scared of the unknown, but many are later blown away.”
Siegel adds that, in the end, most of the people she works with say they should’ve gone through this process sooner. You could start now. What is your gut telling you?
In senior housing the goal is to improve and enrich the quality of each seniors life. Sometimes we meet people working in senior communities who go above and beyond to ensure a senior is happy and thriving. In my opinion they are “Senior Angels” and should be recognized. This is the story about Jack and Honey, and the two angels that brought them together.
I was contacted in January by Jack’s son. At age 90, and living alone in Amarillo, the family was concerned for his well-being. A year earlier, Jack had lost his wife of 70 years, Patsy and was now alone in his house with the exception of his faithful canine companion, Maggie. Jack agreed to move to a retirement community closer to his son, but only if he could bring Maggie. Independent Living community Pinewood Hills in Flower Mound, Texas was a perfect match. Jack selected a first floor unit, with a backdoor opening to a lush and gorgeous greenbelt. A section of the yard could even be fenced in so Maggie had an area to play. Jack was packed up and ready to transition into his new life when tragedy struck…Maggie died the day before he was scheduled to move.
Through his sadness, Jack moved in to his new home. He did well for the first few weeks and even made a couple of new friends, but then Rhonda Bedrick, Resident Experience Coordinator noticed that he was regressing and no longer coming to the dining room for his meals. Rhonda visited with Jack to find out what was going on. She says “his face always lit up with every conversation about Maggie. I realized that the light was getting dimmer and he needed a dog.” For Rhonda, this isn’t so much a job as it is a calling. She had tears in her eyes as she shared “our goal is to prevent isolation and depression. We give our residents purpose, strength and belonging. When it’s all said and done, the residents bring me so much joy, and they give ME purpose, strength and belonging.”
Jack needed a dog, and the search was on. One of Jack’s new friends, Katie searched online, while Sales Leader, Debbie Welker posted on her Facebook page. Rhonda scoured community pages on Facebook, and her search quickly paid off when the Pelican Bay Animal Control Shelter posted a picture of a “perfect little dog for Jack.” Rhonda explained the situation to Bill at Pelican Bay and he agreed that this dog would be a great fit. After sharing the information with Jack’s son and getting his okay, Rhonda drove to Pelican Bay to pick up the dog. Bill waived all fees, and said that he would be on the lookout for dogs for future Pinewood Hills residents.
Jack was overjoyed when he was introduced to his new dog. He promptly named her Honey. When I asked him why he chose that name, he replied “because she’s a honey.” As Honey nestled onto Jack’s lap, he was all smiles as he said “She’s perfect for me. She sure is a blessing.”
The change in Jack was immediate. Debbie stated “he’s excited about life again, and coming to meals. The dog was the missing ingredient.” Rhonda says, “Jack needed a reason to get up every morning. Honey needs him to take care of her, and he has so much love to give her. Honey is the center of his attention and gives him a purpose.”
Rhonda and Debbie took the initiative to spend their personal time searching for the perfect dog for Jack. These two ladies have a heart and passion for seniors, which is why they are Senior Angels. Thank you both for bringing joy back into Jack’s life.
On a side note, Rhonda can now add “Dog Whisperer” to her resume. She is currently searching for dogs for three of her residents!
Lori Williams is the owner of the senior referral service, Lori Williams – Senior Services. She helps seniors and their families find senior communities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Lori has worked in senior living for over 12 years, and uses her extensive knowledge and resources to assist families as they transition into senior housing. This is a no-cost service.