In the United States, senior citizens are a cohort that’s widely considered to be those over the age of 64, and sometimes even over the age of 59. However, 65 has been the traditional age for retirement, and it’s also long been associated with senior citizen age.
The term ‘senior citizen’ or ‘seniors’ is also synonymous with being elderly, and this marks the time in life when one begins to slow down. The majority of seniors in the U.S. have raised a family and have had a long career, and senior citizen age is considered to be the time for seniors to relax and enjoy the remainder of their lives. So the next question is where should seniors live out the remainder of their lives?
Aging in Place
By far, aging in place is the most beneficial living option for seniors who are able to do so. Aging in place refers to remaining in one’s own home, versus moving into a different location and being under the supervision (whether light or heavy) of others. However, simply aging in place isn’t the best option for seniors who aren’t able to do so. Successfully aging in place means that the senior can remain in their home safely and comfortably.
Benefits associated with aging in place include:
- Comfort and familiarity
- Independence is fostered
- Memory loss is slowed down
- Typically the most affordable option
Again, seniors can only experience these benefits if their home is safe for them. This means that certain home renovations (e.g., bathroom modifications, stairlifts, etc.) have to be made. Also, seniors must have some level of mobility and independence to be able to remain in their homes. Fortunately, home care services exist for seniors who may need some assistance, but are still able to remain mostly independent.
Retirement communities are usually made up of duplexes/quadruplexes, apartments, condos, or even homes, and they serve those aged 55 and over. This type of living arrangement is a combination of independent and assisted living, in that most residents of retirement communities are fully independent, but they may receive certain services, like laundry, cooking, cleaning, and transportation— depending on the community. Some of the benefits associated with living in a retirement community include:
- Ability to socialize with other seniors
- Being retired isn’t a requirement
- Emphasis on remaining physically active
- Possibility of maintenance-free living
- Support services are available
One reason a senior may choose to live in a retirement community is that their home may not be the safest place for them and home renovations are too expensive. Moving into a retirement community ensures that the home will be senior-friendly. Another reason may be that a senior doesn’t want to continue living in his or her home alone, as retirement communities allow seniors to socialize.
Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities provide more assistance and care than most retirement communities provide. Nursing homes are one of the most common types of assisted living facilities, and they usually provide round-the-clock medical care for seniors (and other patients) who have debilitating conditions that prevent them from living independently. Some of these conditions may include:
- Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
- Behavioral issues
- Other serious health issues
Assisted living facilities are usually the best option for seniors experiencing one or more of these conditions. Unfortunately, not all facilities provide the care that the patients need, with nursing home abuse and neglect being increasingly popular in the United States. There are some facilities in the U.S. that do provide quality care for their patients, but others who are victims of abuse and/or neglect should contact a nursing home abuse lawyer.
Of course, a senior’s health condition may change and they’ll have to live in different places at different times during their lives. The average life expectancy is anywhere from 75 to about 80 years, but many seniors (both men and women) live well beyond 80. As mobility naturally declines as we age, this can mean that a senior can start aging in place, but may need to switch to another living arrangement (such as assisted living) later on.
There are some facilities, known as continuing care communities, that provide a continuum of care for aging seniors based on what they need as they age. In these communities, seniors can start off living independently and receive assistance if they need it later on in life— or they can remain independent if they don’t need assistance as they age.
Socialization opportunities for seniors
Socialization opportunities provide seniors with the chance to interact with others and engage in meaningful activities that promote their overall well-being. These opportunities can take many forms, including group outings, community events, and senior centers.
Group outings allow seniors to explore new places and participate in activities that interest them. This could include visiting museums, attending concerts or plays, or going on nature walks. These outings not only provide entertainment but also help seniors stay physically active and mentally stimulated.
Community events offer another avenue for socialization. Local festivals, farmer’s markets, and other community gatherings provide a chance for seniors to meet new people and feel connected to their community.
Senior centers offer a variety of programs and activities designed specifically for older adults. These may include exercise classes, art classes, game nights, educational seminars, and more. Senior centers also provide a safe space for seniors to connect with others who share similar interests.
Senior citizens have a lot of living options to consider, and the best one for them depends on their specific needs. From assisted living centers to independent retirement communities and nursing homes, each option offers its own unique advantages that can help improve a senior’s health and well-being. Before making any decisions though, it is important to weigh all the pros and cons of each option in order to make an informed decision about which is right for you or your loved one.