Senior Living Game Plan: How to Avoid Choosing in a Crisis

Senior Living Game Plan: How to Avoid Choosing in a Crisis

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 

blog-family-decision-guide

 

Americans can out-plan just about anyone when we set our minds to it. In fact, NASA plans to land an astronaut on Mars in about 15 years, and preparations are already well under way. Food, fuel, and mental stimulation: Everything is being planned in meticulous detail for the 140-million-mile journey through space.

The general population, though, has proven less enthusiastic than our rocket scientists when it comes to peering ahead into the future. In fact, one in three people do not have any retirement money set aside. More than half don’t have a will. Needless to say, few people give early thought to their future housing needs before it’s time to make an important decision.

Download The Complete Guide to Choosing Between Senior Living Options

That’s a critical error, the kind of mistake that would botch a space mission before it ever left the ground. When people don’t plan for senior living, decisions get made in a hurry, usually after one’s physical or mental health takes a turn for the worse. Families go into crisis mode and make choices without adequate forethought or insight.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Rather than seeming like a chore to tame, early planning gives a family a stress-free opportunity to make decisions around an adult’s living situation. Adult children get a chance to learn about mom or dad’s lifestyle, interests, passions, and concerns. The older adult in turn gets to explore options thoughtfully, without the pressure of a discharge deadline or some other artificial timeline hanging over their heads.

This planning phase can be a moment of enrichment for all involved, as well as a golden opportunity to organize and prioritize, all with an eye toward setting up a loved one for the best possible housing experience going forward. Not all senior living options are the same: It’s a broad and varied market with the possibility of meeting a wide array of personal needs. However, finding the right fit takes care and forethought.

Older adults and their families will want to consider a range of factors when planning in advance for senior housing alternatives. Here are some of the biggest priorities that take some time and planning.

What Can You Afford?

Finances are, of course, a primary consideration. As with any housing choice, the conversation may well begin with the question: How much can I afford? This will be a calculation encompassing retirement savings, the sale of a home, and other sources of income. Online calculators and other services, including the skills of a CPA or other financial professional, can help a family get a handle on the numbers.

The flip side of that coin: How much does it cost? It pays to do one’s homework here, as the cost of senior housing is a widely variable factor. Different types of housing—assisted living, nursing home, memory care—have different financial models. Costs may vary even among similar-seeming communities. Staying at home and receiving in-home care isn’t necessarily less expensive either. It pays to do research while you are planning ahead.

Type of Community

Community is a major consideration as well. A vibrant, engaged community, one where residents have ample opportunities to express themselves, discover new interests, and engage with others, is ideal. Not all senior housing options are cast in this mold. 

A little research will uncover a big difference between nursing homes and assisted living, for example. Assisted living residents generally enjoy a far higher level of autonomy; they can engage in not just the basic functions of daily living, but also a wide range of other activities. Even within assisted living though, not all communities are the same. Many of these communities sell out and only accept reservations, so early planning is essential for those seeking a vibrant, energetic environment for Mom or Dad.

Location, Location, Location

You must consider location as well, and here, early planning is key again. If parents are going to relocate to be closer to their children, a head start helps make that complex transition go smoothly. Older adults also may want housing close to a particular medical provider or near cities or sites of particular personal interest. Either way, if a move is in the cards, early planning helps make the adjustment easier because you can ensure a location will be available near you.

Making a Rushed Decision

Those who wait to consider these questions until the last minute are often put in an uncomfortable situation. When families wait until a crisis arises to make their senior housing choices, emotions can get in the way and it can be difficult to make the right choice.

A hurried decision can lead to financial mistakes. Older adults find their choices constrained by the lack of advance planning, especially if they are unaware of the costs associated with housing. Those who don’t know the financial side typically have difficulty allocating their resources appropriately. Putting off the “money conversation” as uncomfortable or inconvenient inevitably leads to fewer options down the road. 

Likewise, those who don’t think through the different housing types may find themselves unprepared to address the complex senior living landscape. As a result, a rushed choice may land Mom in a community that simply doesn’t fit—a place that does not respond to her lifestyle needs, her personality, her intentions. Forethought helps ensure a fit between the individual and the place they will be calling home.

As in most major life decisions, a hurried choice typically yields lukewarm results at best.

Planning Early Is Crucial

Finances, housing type, and location: These three key considerations inform the choice of senior housing, and the sooner you and your loved ones begin exploring the options, the better. Those who fail to act, who end up making the call while standing on one foot, often regret not having acted sooner. Early planning is more than just smart: It’s essential for those who wish to take what some find to be a trying task and turn it into a moment of joyful exploration, an enriching experience for all involved.

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