There are a lot of reasons families hesitate moving their elder loved one to assisted living, or an elderly person resists this change. Some of the reasons for this hesitation are valid, but many times the perception seniors and families have about assisted living are not completely accurate.
Here are some common misconceptions.
1. Assisted living is not affordable.
Yes, in San Diego County the cost of senior living is high compared to many cities in the country. But when all factors are considered, the cost of assisted living may not be entirely out of range.
The average cost for a one bedroom apartment in a San Diego County assisted living community is between $3000-$4000 a month. Some are as low as $2500 and a some as high as $5000, depending upon where in the county they are located. This is the rate for a single person, a couple will pay a bit more.
Is this cheap? No, but when you factor in all a senior’s household expenses, it may be close to the same.
Remember that assisted living includes meals, housekeeping, transportation and basic utilities. Plus, bills a senior pays in their home for all household maintenance, yard care, insurance and property tax are no longer a factor. And with the value of real estate here, selling a senior’s home in San Diego to use the equity to pay for a senior community is always a possibility.
If the senior is a veteran, there may be help from a VA benefit. And if your elder has been paying for a long term care insurance policy, now is the time to take advantage of that. Senior living in San Diego may be more affordable than it seems.
2. A senior will feel alone or abandoned if they move to assisted living.
While it’s true that some seniors move to assisted living and isolate, not engaging with the other residents, the vast majority thrive in the social, stimulating environment a senior community provides. This can be especially true for an elder who has lost some mobility. In assisted living caregivers are available to help those seniors move from place to place so they can engage in activities and conversation with other residents. With so many activities available, assisted living has been shown to alleviate boredom, lessen depression and increase feelings of well being.
3. Living in a San Diego assisted living community means giving up independence.
For a senior who is truly not ready for assisted living, there is some truth to this statement. But for a senior who can benefit from a care community, the opposite is more likely to be the case. I hear time and time again from concerned families that mom or dad is struggling to prepare meals and take care of their house, yet they don’t want to give up their independence.
Elderly who grew up during the depression and the war years may have a harder time asking for and accepting help. But for these seniors, moving to assisted living can free them up to enjoy more of their lives without the burden of day to day tasks. Less time spent on basic chores means more time to independently pursue socializing, hobbies and other interests.
In addition to the social aspect of a senior community, having care giving support available every day often leads to improved health and outlook on life, and with it greater independence, not less independence.
4. Seniors in retirement communities do not control their daily lives.
An apartment in a senior community is very much the same as any other apartment. Everything in that apartment belongs to the senior and how they spend their time is up to the senior. Meals are held in a dining room, but a senior can chose to eat in their room if they prefer. However, eating in their apartment is not encouraged since socialization is an important part of the day.
Seniors in retirement communities are free to come and go as much as they would like. And this is true whether the community is an assisted living facility or an independent living facility in San Diego. Checking in and out is required for safety. If an elder still drives, they can even bring their car.
If and when care is needed, the days and hours a caregiver comes into the elder’s apartment will be scheduled with the senior and family so those visits are helpful, not an intrusion into their daily lives.
5. Employees at assisted living communities do not care about their residents.
As in any industry where people are providing a service, there will always be those who are not right for their type of job. This may be especially true in an assisted living facilities where the people are the elderly with needs greater than the general population.
But the clear majority of assisted living communities are nothing like that. They are run and staffed by dedicated caregivers whose goal it is to improve an elder’s quality of life and provide a warm, inviting, vibrant community.
When you visit any assisted living community, an important question to ask if how long staff has been working there. Longevity is a good thing. And notice as you tour the facility how the residents are treated and if they are addressed by name and with a caring manner.
6. You can only live in assisted living if you are very infirm.
An assisted living community is not a nursing home. There is a big difference. Independent living communities and assisted living communities are designed to enhance quality of life. They are places where a senior can thrive and remain capable for as long as possible while getting the amount of help they need. But they are also places where an elder can age in place as they become more frail and near the end of their life. In assisted living you will see both ends of the spectrum.
We hope this is helpful if you’re thinking about moving your elder into a San Diego retirement community. Please call us at 619-538-9155 if we can answer any questions or help in your journey.