Long-term romantic relationships are known to have a significant positive effect on our mental and emotional wellbeing, but they can also impact our health as well. Research demonstrates that our relationships can even help stave off the risk of chronic diseases and health problems. A study found that when compared to single or divorced adults, married couples reported experiencing fewer mobility limitations, reduced stress, and fewer chronic health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
Maintaining a loving, long-term bond only gets better over time, helping to increase a couple’s overall quality of life as they get older. According to recent census data, around 58% percent of older adults over the age of 65 are married. After being in a happy, loving relationship for years, it’s no surprise that many couples want to continue living together when it’s time to look for a senior living community.
However, since everyone ages differently, it’s not uncommon for couples to have different care needs as they grow older. For example, one spouse may need little or no help with daily tasks, while the other needs assistance with things like medication management or mobility. Even if one partner is in good health, it can be overwhelming for them to care for their spouse on their own.
This is where senior living comes in. To meet the needs of today’s senior couples, modern senior living communities are coming up with solutions for couples who want to live together in the same community, even if they require different levels of care.
If you’re thinking about downsizing to a senior living community with your spouse, or if you’re helping your parents look for a community, here are a few tips that will make the transition to senior living a little bit easier:
Research communities that cater to couples
While many senior living facilities allow couples to live together, every community has different options and regulations. When it comes to independent living, floor plans may range in size from one to two or even three-bedroom condos or cottages. Assisted living spaces are usually one-bedroom apartments or suites, and couples may have the option to live in the same apartment together. However, in some cases, couples may prefer to live in separate but adjoining rooms or units. It’s always best to do your research and visit several communities before making a decision.
Consider the benefits of a continuing care community
A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is an ideal, long-term option for couples hoping to remain close as they grow older. CCRCs offer every stage of senior living–independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, and memory care–all on the same campus. For couples, living at a CCRC makes it possible to stay within the same community, even if one spouse experiences age-related health changes at a different rate. Couples in CCRCs rest assured knowing that if they eventually require a different level of care than their spouse, they will be able to live close by and visit for meals, activities, and socialization without ever leaving the comfort of their community.
Look for a community that offers a variety of activities
Everyone has his or her own interests, so it’s important to find a community that offers a variety of leisure and social activities for both members of the couple to enjoy–whether separately or together. When touring different senior living communities, ask about the activities, hobbies, programs, clubs, classes, and outings that are offered or arranged by the community, and make sure they are appealing and engaging to both parties.
Plan ahead and make the move early
Moving to a senior living community enables older adults to live a more relaxing, laidback lifestyle. Instead of worrying about household chores, couples can focus on their relationship and take advantage of all the perks of community living, including increased social interaction, fun activities, and chef-prepared meals. For this reason, it’s best for couples to plan ahead for the transition to senior living–before they need higher levels of care.
Downsizing and moving in early–while each partner is still in good health–allows couples to more fully enjoy the benefits of a senior living community. Additionally, planning ahead gives couples the chance to tour nearby communities, compare the different options and make an informed decision together, on their own time.