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Forward Thinking: Let’s resolve 5 misconceptions associated with senior living

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The Heritage at Brentwood

Residents enjoy a mini golf course at The Heritage at Brentwood.

It’s not unusual for people to have misconceptions about what living in a senior living community is like, especially if your experience with one was years ago. 

That’s why we’ve compiled five of the most common misconceptions, and some facts that just might change the way you view your retirement living options.

Misconception No. 1: A senior living community will limit my freedom, independence and choices.

The reality: You’re free to do — or not do — exactly what you want.

Most communities offer independent-living apartments or homes with full kitchens. Want to cook or bake? By all means, do so. 

Although now temporarily limited because of COVID-19 restrictions, you’ll have a host of classes, activities and programs from which to choose, not to mention restaurant-style dining rooms. The hassles of maintenance, yardwork, repairs and even housekeeping are gone. You can replace them with more meaningful activities, such as volunteering, cultural events, travel and more.

Misconception No. 2: I’ll be surrounded by old, frail people.

The reality: Today’s senior living communities are full of accomplished, active people.

Talk to nearly anyone who lives in a community and the first thing they’ll tell you is that they live among interesting, lively and entertaining people. Consider the fact that it’s easier to make friends, socialize and do fun and fascinating things together. 

And at the end of the day, you can be as social as you want or keep to yourself. It’s entirely up to you.

Also, many communities employ students and young adults as servers in the dining room and residents often form close relationships with them. 

There also are a lot of other staff members of varying ages who help a community function. And you’ll often hear residents and staff talk about how they feel like one big family. 

Misconception No. 3: My mortgage is paid off, so a move doesn’t make financial sense.

The reality: Your home expenses may be higher than you think.

When you add up all the normal, monthly home maintenance costs, they’re often higher than you might imagine. And when you factor in the unexpected expenses homeowners face, the costs of maintaining a home become even higher. 

Houses are a wonderful reflection of our lives, but they don’t adapt as easily to our changing needs as we might like. In fact, a Harvard study found that only about 1% of existing houses are suitable for successful aging in place.

Misconception No. 4: If I need help or health care, I’ll get it at home.

The reality: Long-term health care costs could devastate you financially.

Without a plan in place for future care, the financial strength you’ve spent years creating could be destroyed in no time. If you remain in your house and an accident or illness forces you to seek long-term care, you or your family may have to make a quick decision, and you’ll pay current market rates for your care. Meanwhile, you’ll still have costs associated with maintaining your house.

A senior living community makes everyone’s life easier. If you select a continuing care community — one with independent living, assisted living, rehabilitation services and skilled nursing on one campus — you’ll be in the same place, which is so valuable, especially for singles without extended families and couples who want to live on the same campus even if one of the pair’s level of care needs change.

Misconception No. 5: I’ll make the move if I need to.

The reality: You can wait too long.

The biggest regret of most residents is that they waited too long to move in. With so much to do and so many people to meet, residents discover that senior living is immensely more rewarding and active than they imagined, and they wish they hadn’t stayed so long in their home. 

Another thing to consider is if you wait too long, you may not be considered healthy enough to enjoy independent living and will only be able to move into assisted living or a higher level of care.

A final reality: Living alone is bad for your health.

Studies show that social isolation — especially among seniors — can be as devastating to your health as smoking and other unhealthy habits. And even if isolation is only half as bad as they suspect, it still takes a physical and mental toll on people of all ages. 

The companionship that comes so easily to residents is more than an emotional boost. It improves physical well-being, too. 

Why wait and risk making your health worse?

Forward Thinking is sponsored by The Heritage at Brentwood. For more information, call 615-507-2686 or visit www.theheritagelcs.com. If you have an idea for a future column topic, email sleathers@theheritagelcs.com

Forward Thinking is sponsored by The Heritage at Brentwood. For more information, call 615-507-2686 or visit www.theheritagelcs.com.  If you have an idea for a future column topic, email sleathers@theheritagelcs.com.

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