Talking about assisted living with your parents or other elderly relatives can be incredibly challenging.
It can feel to them as though you are trying to take away their independence or that you are saying that they can no longer be trusted to look after themselves. This is a painful change in dynamic for a person who has worked for their whole life and who is used to holding a position of authority within the family.
The aim of an independent living community is in the name! Rather than taking away independence, they aim to allow people to maintain their independence and autonomy for as long as possible while ensuring that their other needs are met, too.
A huge benefit of living in an assisted living community is the sense of community that they can provide. As people get older, it can become more and more difficult to maintain connections with other people because traveling to social events may become more difficult. In independent living communities, residents are encouraged to participate in social activities and make new connections.
A sense of community is important for maintaining a feeling of wellbeing as we get older and for keeping loneliness at bay. Studies have also shown that mobility tends to be increased among elderly people with good social connections and that they are more likely to pay attention to their health needs, for example, by getting recommended checkups.
Social activity is also thought to help prevent cognitive decline and is even thought to help keep our physical mobility at a higher level for longer. Feeling as though you are part of a community gives people a sense of purpose, which is important for preventing depression and Alzheimer’s.
As people age and lose some of their mobility, it can be very easy for them to find themselves inside watching television every day. An independent living community will actively encourage its residents to keep having fun.
It’s very important that we continue to have fun as we get older, and not just because fun is well… fun! It’s actually an important part of good health, too. Having fun floods our bodies with endorphins, which mean that we enjoy ourselves and feel significant benefits to our physical and mental health.
Fun lowers stress and prevents disease long term. It also helps to boost creativity and helps to keep our brains healthy. People who have more fun are likely to maintain good cognitive function for longer, and they are likely to enjoy higher levels of creativity and productivity, too.
Independence and autonomy
Feeling as though you are independent and have autonomy over your life ties into the idea of having a sense of purpose. After all, how could you have a sense of purpose if someone else is telling you how to live?
This is why independent living communities such as those offered by Frontier Management put such a strong emphasis on facilitating their residents to maintain their sense of independence and autonomy over their own lives.
This means that residents continue to feel engaged with their lives, which, as we’ve touched on, is essential for maintaining good cognition and both physical and mental health. It also means that the idea of having a little extra support will be easier to accept, as loss of independence is often a chief worry among older people.
Many families consider an independent living community for their loved ones because of the support that it can provide.
With the best will in the world, it’s not always possible for family members to provide the care that an older relative needs because they simply can’t be around all the time.
If you are worried that your loved one may need some extra support, there are a few warning signs to look out for:
- Weight loss. This can be a symptom of a medical issue, but if there is no underlying cause, it may indicate that your loved one is struggling to shop and cook for themselves.
- A decline in personal hygiene. If your loved one struggles to bathe and dress themselves, this is a sign that they could do with some extra assistance.
- Bruises and wounds. This may signify that your relative has fallen or injured themselves, possibly due to a problem with their coordination.
- A decline in the cleanliness of their home. As people get older, they can start to struggle with the demands of looking after a home, and so jobs like cleaning and tidying can start not to get done.
- Agitation and anger. This can be a sign of a mental issue, or sometimes a physical one.
It can be painful to admit that your parents are no longer able to take care of themselves, but it can be detrimental to their health and wellbeing to not be getting support when they need it. An independent living community means that your loved one maintains their independence, but that there are always people on hand to provide extra support when it’s needed.
Solutions to long term care needs
If your loved one has been diagnosed with a long term health condition such as Alzheimer’s or cancer, then it can be a great source of comfort to know that they are in the hands of professionals who know how their illness can progress, how to delay the onset of symptoms, and how best to cope with them when they do.
Independent living communities will be staffed with trained medical professionals, who can monitor the health of your loved one to ensure that they are always getting the right level of care and that a holistic approach is taken to keeping them healthy in both body and mind.
Quality of life
Ultimately, an independent 55+ living community aims to improve the quality of life for your loved one. They will be surrounded by a community of like-minded people their own age, be given a sense of purpose, and they will have trained staff on hand to ensure that their health needs are being met.
These are all things that would be very difficult to provide in the home.