There are a wide range of options for those individuals over 55 considering a senior living community. Over 55 communities offer a comradery with like individuals and a setting for increased social interaction. Independent Living and Assisted living offer the same environment as an over 55 community with the addition of services and supports such as meal plans, laundry services, housekeeping, life enrichment and in the case of Assisted Living, assistance with bathing, grooming and other activities of daily living (referred to as ADL’s within the senior care community). Nursing Homes or Skilled Nursing Centers offer increased services and supports to seniors with chronic medical conditions who need around the clock monitoring and support by Nurses and regular contact with a physician.
Over the past three months we have all heard how Covid-19 is striking our most vulnerable populations, including senior citizens especially those within congregate living communities. So why would anyone want to consider a senior community now? In actuality, there are many reasons why Covid-19 is a good reason to consider moving to a senior living community NOW, which brings us to our topic for today.
Before the onset of Covid-19 seniors considered moving to community setting for a variety of reasons. Add the concern over Covid-19 to the mix and the appeal of moving to a senior living community increases:
• Socialization - One of the top reasons that seniors consider moving to a congregate living situation is to increase their socialization. Many individuals of retirement age remain in situations where they grow increasingly isolated which leads to both physical and mental or psychological problems. Humans are social animals and it is not healthy to be alone for extended periods of time. Currently at The Park Danforth, our residents are able to leave their apartments and with social distancing while wearing a mask are able to enjoy interactions with their neighbors and the staff. At the very least, each interested resident receives a daily meal delivery by a friendly staff person.
• Convenience- Many retirees choose to live in a senior living community due to the convenience of having support and services easily available. Especially now, the convenience of having everything you need under one roof makes senior living community increasingly appealing. Since Covid-19 became prevalent in our area, residents of The Park Danforth have had access to volunteer shoppers, mail and package delivery, and meal delivery service.
• Financial - Living in a senior community is more affordable than you think. Once you have added up your monthly mortgage or rent payment, utilities, home & yard maintenance it is easy to see why a senior living community can be a better deal. There are also senior living options which are subsidized by the government and based on your income. Here at The Park Danforth we offer over 70 subsidized apartments.
• Support Services - Many people consider senior living due to the services available. Living on your own, scheduling and organizing services to come to your home can be a challenge. Living in a senior community can eliminate much of the stress related to putting these services in place. At The Park Danforth we have services available to those who need them. These services and amenities range from housekeeping and laundry services to amenities such our wellness center, theater & bistro.
• Home Maintenance - How does “Maintenance Free Living” sound to you? I know it sounds great to me as it does to many people. Maintaining your private home can be a daunting task from shoveling snow & raking leaves to interior & exterior painting. And for those seniors who are unable to complete these chores themselves, there is the additional cost of hiring outside help and brining strangers into you home.
• Location - At The Park Danforth we have seen a recent increase in inquiries and many of them are due to families becoming aware of their parents need for support and wanting to be closer to them. Many of my associates report the same type of activity. It appears with the increased isolation all of us are experiencing, the need for support is becoming more apparent with more seniors. Being located closer to family and support systems is another reason why people consider senior living.
• Safety & Security – Lastly and perhaps most importantly, especially during this time of Covid-19, is the safety and security that the right senior community can provide. Covid-19 is an insidious virus and there is no guarantee that any of us will not be infected. Living within a senior community with the correct protocols and procedures is one way to fend off any kind of safety hazard. Perhaps the best way to communicate this is by considering two different but typical scenarios; Sara who lives in her private home and Gwen who is living in a senior community:
Sara is living in the same home that she and her deceased husband, Larry, lived in for 40 years. Larry and Sara brought up their two daughters in that house and Sara has resisted selling it because of all the memories her home contains. Both of her daughters were living away when Covid-19 caused the local government to establish a stay at home order. Sara is able to get her own groceries but being in public for any reason causes her concern. She is good about wearing a facial cover but Sara sees many people not wearing masks when she does her grocery shopping. Sara tried to order grocery delivery online but many of the items were unavailable. Something happened to Sara’s furnace last week which meant a stranger coming into her house. Sara’s daughters are unable to visit but she can talk to them on the phone. She would like to see them on the computer but she has a hard time with her computer.
Gwen decided to sell her home when the challenge of maintaining her home became too much. Living in her independent living apartment has changed since social isolation became a reality last spring but she thanks her lucky stars every day that she made the decision to move into her new apartment. Though she still needs to socially isolate, Gwen is able to arrange for support and services without ever leaving her apartment. The life enrichment team has arranged for Gwen to receive groceries weekly with a volunteer shopper. Gwen is an avid reader and she receives books and newsletters on a regular basis. She is even able to video call her grandson with some help from the staff. Her meals are delivered to her door everyday and they are delicious, though she does look forward to meeting her friends in the dining room for meals when it reopens. Gwen takes comfort in the fact that there is an experienced team of staff in her senior community. Help is just the push of a button away.
Though Gwen & Sara and their situations are fictitious, they are typical. These two scenarios provide a great summary to our discussion today. Despite the reports of outbreaks in congregate living communities, these represent a minority when compared to the total number of senior living communities. Moving into a senior living community brings with it years of experience. At The Park Danforth, we have been providing a secure home to seniors since 1881. When faced with a crisis situation, an experienced team has the knowledge to develop the procedures necessary to keep their residents safe. That being said, Covid-19 is a sneaky virus and there have been outbreaks in secure environments. Senior Living Communities, such as The Park Danforth, are a viable option for people over sixty who are looking for the supports, amenities and peace of mind that an experienced, knowledgeable team, such as you find at The Park Danforth, can provide.