Can the benefits of senior living help you stay independent longer?
You see the terms often: senior independent living, how to stay independent, keeping seniors independent longer. There’s no doubt that senior independence is on the minds of a growing part of our population. As people continue to live longer, we want as much of our time as possible to be spent living independently, making decisions for ourselves and enjoying life by maintaining independence as older adults. Relatives and loved ones are also interested in older adults maintaining their independence.
What’s the best way to achieve this? The answer depends on a number of variables, including one’s personal preferences and commitment to living healthy long before the senior years arrive.
How to stay independent longer — the research.
Having good genes and leading a healthy lifestyle may be a senior’s best chance of staying independent and lowering the likelihood of needing assistance over time. Remaining physically active and/or living with a loving partner are no doubt also contributing factors.
A study at Sweden’s Uppsala University tried to determine which aspects of a healthy lifestyle predict independent living late in life. Researchers followed the health of 1,100 men over a 16-year period as they lived into their 80s.
To qualify as independent, the men had to be able to bathe, toilet and dress themselves, and walk alone outdoors until age 87. They also had to pass a mental state examination and could not be institutionalized or have dementia. In the end, 369 men completed the final study — 276 counted as independent agers, while 93 lived co-dependent lifestyles.
Three traits associated with independent aging emerged from the study: never having smoked, having a waistline measurement under 40 inches, and closely following a Mediterranean-like diet.
Can you attain senior independence by staying in your home?
Not everyone will possess the three traits found in the Swedish study. At some point, it becomes clear that you’ll eventually need to change your living arrangement. Some have the option of living with family. Others choose independent living in a senior living community, and still others elect to remain right where they are, with some modifications to their home and outside assistance. This is often called “aging in place.”
In each scenario, no one wants to sacrifice their freedom, and everyone hopes to maintain independence as an older adult. For many of us, leaving our home for any reason can feel like losing independence. The feeling is: home equals independence.
But author, senior living expert, and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Brad Breeding doesn’t necessarily agree. He wonders at what point “independent living” is not really living independently? He suggests asking and answering certain questions before deciding to remain in your home indefinitely as you grow older. Here are just a few:
- Will my home need to be modified if I should develop mobility challenges?
- How will I maintain my home and yard when daily physical activity becomes more challenging?
- How will I maintain purpose and remain socially active when my mobility and independence decline?
- How will I get to doctors’ appointments and other necessary errands if I can no longer drive safely?
- If I experience mental decline, who will manage my household and finances?
- What if I need assistance with routine daily tasks?
Answering each of these questions requires serious reflection and the potential for considerable expense. The family conversation can continue for quite some time before finding solutions that are acceptable to everyone.
Senior living benefits.
Having the specially tailored support of a senior living community around them actually enables seniors to live independently for longer. Communities offer residents the amenities and services they need to care for themselves for as long as possible. And some places, like Hamlet at Chagrin Falls, also provide a continuum of care on-site, starting with independent senior living and continuing through assisted living. Communities like Hamlet at Chagrin Falls also alleviate the stress that comes with caregiving for an aging family member, giving seniors and their adult children the freedom to simply enjoy their visits together, creating meaningful, quality time.
Beyond this, residents of senior living communities in the United States and in the U.K. generally report that they’re more active, experience less loneliness, have greater security, and just enjoy life more once they move into a community. Basic questions that need honest answers when you’re considering your long-term living options include:
- How easy is it for me to maintain my current home?
- Is it difficult for me to connect with friends and family?
- How challenging is it for me to get around?
- How’s my health (and the health of my spouse)?
At Hamlet at Chagrin Falls, we can help you find answers. And we can help expand your view of independent senior living. Why not take a moment now to explore what independent living is all about here at Hamlet at Chagrin Falls?