Today, more Americans are living longer, meaning that more couples are going through the aging process together. If you and your spouse are considering options for assisted living, here are a few areas to research while planning.
Does the community meet our needs as a couple?
Not all assisted living communities are prepared to support a couple's needs. In the past, the vast majority of people living in senior communities were single individuals, so it's necessary to find out how each community has adapted to serving couples. For instance, some facilities offer shared rooms or suites, whereas other living situations might require couples with different medical conditions to live in different wings. Consider your dynamic as a couple and decide what living arrangement is a priority for you.
Does the community meet our needs as individuals?
Often, one partner is less healthy than the other or needs more involved medical care. Perhaps one spouse needs constant help with daily tasks, while the other is able-bodied and interested in an active lifestyle. It's imperative to find out how the community is suited to these needs. Does the social life of the community appeal to both of you as individuals? Is the more active partner comfortable with leaving their spouse in the care of the medical staff?
Also, look ahead a few years and find out how any future health developments will be handled. You will want to be aware of possible adjustments ahead of time, such as the cost of outside services or requirements for changing facilities. In light of your different medical conditions, consider how the community's policies may impact you and your spouse. Make educated plans for eventualities such as moving into separate facilities when one partner's medical conditions change.
What are our financial options?
Assisted living can be expensive, so it's best to make plans as early as possible. Research which type of assisted living will be best for you and your spouse: continuing care retirement communities offer many phases of senior living in one location, family care homes have a small number of residents in a home setting, and skilled nursing facilities offer specialized care options. Depending on which arrangement you choose, you may have the possibility of tiered pricing packages designed to reflect the differing types of care provided for each person.
Here are three tips to making the transition as a couple a little easier:
- Make a downsizing plan. Most living arrangements will be smaller than the homes many couples own together
- Prepare to make the new home as welcoming as possible! Creating a comfortable and functional space, including familiar household items, will help ease the transition.
- Understand the community's intimacy policies. Take the time to make arrangements with the community, particularly if one or both partners require memory care or if medical treatment compromises privacy. Maintaining intimacy as a couple is essential, no matter what our age.
- Talk to each other about your social plans. If your significant other wants to live in a community with a lot of social activity and you don't, it's important to communicate how you will accommodate each of your needs without conflict.
Keep these ideas in mind as you and your partner approach your transition to the next stage of life. While the move to assisted living is a big step, having a plan in place will help everything go smoothly and prevent the need to make huge decisions during a crisis. Keep your needs in mind, both as a couple and as individuals with unique medical needs and social interests. With a plan in place for approaching this critical phase, the transition to assisted living can be an excellent step forward in a couple's journey together.