Senior Adults: Expectations vs. Reality
Is spending your sunset years on your porch watching the sunset something that crosses your mind often? Or perhaps you’re more concerned about the age-related illnesses that creep in as you grow older. The fact of the matter is, there’s a lot you don’t know about growing old until you get to those years. Most of your expectations may be far from reality, and some may be true. So, let’s demystify the expectations vs. the reality of senior adults.
There are lots of expectations associated with growing old. Some like difficulty in movement and compromised balance are expected. However, the interpretation of old is where most people draw the line. Some feel old in their 50 and others well into their 70s.
Like everything else in life, most people have high expectations as they grow old. Lots of rest, time to spend with the family and grandchildren, hanging out with friends, and possibly a long time before age catches up with you.
The reality is, you never notice age creeping in on you. It happens fast and unexpectedly. Although you may be lucky to spend time with your family, almost everyone is busy with their lives in most instances. Seeing them becomes harder, mainly because you get a step slower in your movement.
Although your mind still feels 20 years old, your body constantly reminds you of the past years. Your skin, body shape, hair, and weight all change drastically. But despite the challenges that come with age, you still have reasons to celebrate. You have more time to yourself, you have a new appreciation for things you took for granted in your younger years, like taking a walk or catching up with a friend, and the world is a little bit slower and calmer.
As you get older, you start dealing with physical challenges, and in some seniors, health issues, some chronic also set in. Some seniors expect that their adult children will take care of them or that they can live independently for as long as they are alive.
Some seniors rarely think about assisted living as an elder care option. They have children and they expect that they will take care of them, take them to their doctor’s appointments, make sure they get their prescription refills on time, and keep an eye on them. For some, this works out as they had imagined. But this is usually a tiny percentage.
The sad reality is that most of your children have families, jobs, and children. While they would love to take care of their elderly parents, the pressures of life are usually too much. Seniors are usually surprised when the family members they thought would take care of them begin discussing assisted living.
There are many incorrect perceptions about assisted living facilities, which is why seniors feel abandoned and betrayed by their families when assisted living is discussed. But the expectations and realities are quite different.
Expectation: Living in assisted living is like living in an “institution.”
Some senior community members think of assisted living as a nursing home. Images of cold, sterile buildings with no life or fun where people sit for hours without attention flood their minds.
Reality: It’s like a second home.
Assisted living has come a long way. Most facilities have different living quarters for members with additional needs. For independent living apartments, you get to keep your pictures on the walls, use your furniture and treasured mementos to furnish the space, and some even allow dogs and cats.
For seniors going into assisted living, it’s an opportunity to meet new people in the same age group, engage in new activities and live in an environment where your health is closely monitored. You don’t have to worry about doing things like cooking or cleaning.
Expectation: You lose your freedom.
The biggest concern seniors have about assisted living is losing their freedom. They can’t come and go as they wish and can’t do most of the things they love.
Reality: You have less control but all your freedom.
In assisted living, you have fewer household obligations and there’s less stress about finding something to do. The facility has plenty of activities you can engage in, and you’re free to pick the ones you like most. No one will tell you how to spend your time or impose rules on what you do.
However, the facility might have timelines on when to do certain things like meals, take medication, and so on. It is a slight downside compared to the comfort of knowing there are trained and capable people ready to take care of all your needs.
How to Prepare for Senior Life
You can make the most of your senior life when you prepare well for it. You can do a few things to stay in good health and enjoy your later years. Great places to start include eating healthy, exercising, and getting regular checkups and screenings as recommended by your physician. You should also;
- Adapt your home – As you grow older, going up a flight of stairs will get harder. Ensure you do a safety review of your stairs, baths, and kitchens because they can present safety hazards.
- Consider your housing options – If you can’t continue living alone, it’s best to research alternatives where you will feel more comfortable staying. Options available include naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs), independent living apartments, and assisted living. When considering the various options, factor in your age and any help you need, like meal preparation, house cleaning, and paying bills.
- Plan for emergencies – If you live far from immediate family members, ensure you have someone who can check in on you regularly. Keep emergency contacts close to you at all times and on speed dials on every phone. If possible, carry a cellphone with you at all times.
- Have written care directives – You can also have advance care directives that include the type of medical care you want if you’re too sick.
There’s a lot about growing old that won’t go as expected. Preparing beforehand gives you the best chances of living out your golden years as you had planned. While you may have a loving family that may be willing to take care of you, it’s recommended to consider staying in assisted living especially if you have health challenges and require constant medical supervision. Assisted living is an opportunity to meet new people, create new bonds, and live in an environment designed to help you thrive.
This is what Stonegate is about – supporting all areas of quality senior living. Contact us for more information about our living options and what works best for you.