‘Senior Living?’ — Don’t Get Caught Up in Labels

My closet holds clothes ranging over 4 different sizes. They all fit me. One brand’s “Medium” is another brand’s “XL.” This is why fitting rooms were invented. It takes some time to be sure you’ve got the right fit.

The same is true for the home you choose in your third life — the one after childhood and childrearing. When you look around your house, your neighborhood, or even your town, you may recognize what you have doesn’t fit your current needs or future desires. It’s time for change.

As with clothing, there are myriad options out there and there’s little consistency in labeling. Choices for senior living are almost endless and exist along a continuum, beginning at a single family home with no amenities and ending with full-care in a skilled nursing facility.

Here’s the confusing part: many of the amenities, care options, and services you could receive in one environment are also available in any of the others. For instance, you don’t have to live in an assisted living building in order to get some help with housekeeping, meal prep, or even bathing and dressing!

So, how do you choose what’s right for you? First, consider your current needs and wants, then consider your expected future. No one has a crystal ball, of course, but make an educated guess. Finally, begin your discovery process by paying attention to what’s actually on offer rather than how something is described.

Here are some key considerations:

  • Budget — considering my wants/needs, what can I afford — and for how long? Could I be comfortable and safe with some support now, adding more care as my needs increase in the future?
  • Ability — will I want/be able to maintain my current situation, especially regarding cooking, cleaning, driving, maintenance, and financial management?
  • Lifestyle — how important is it that I can interact with others, continue learning, or attend events? Do I want to be surrounded only by people my own age? Single family, communal, or multifamily?
  • Location — how close do/will I want to be to family and friends, shopping, healthcare, religious services, etc?

Once you’ve identified your wants and needs, you can seek out your best fit. Ask questions. And don’t be fooled by the label!

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