Most often when we talk about the benefits of assisted living, it usually goes along these lines: Assisted Living offers a solution for seniors who are isolated or unsafe living at home alone and provides peace of mind for their adult children who are worried sick about them. Of course, that is true, but there is a whole other side to this “benefits” analysis, and it’s much more positive and fun!
From my personal experience working in assisted living marketing for over 20 years, and as the mother of two college-aged daughters, I see a lot of similarities between moving to assisted living and heading off to college (read my previous post on how the assisted living search mirrors the college search.)
Here’s what I really want to say to seniors who are considering, or resisting, moving to an assisted living community: Assisted Living is just like college! Want a new social life? Expand your mind? Meet a bunch of new friends and hang out in the dining room together? Walk down your hallway and know all the kids on the floor? Join some clubs, talk about critical issues of the day, feel a sense of purpose? Maybe even strike up a new romance?!
I don’t want to sugarcoat aging. As a 56-year old baby boomer I get it. And my 83-year old Mom says, “Just wait.” We all know an aging body (and sometimes the mind) slows down. And, let’s be honest, residents in assisted living communities most often do need some assistance with everyday activities, like managing medications or help with dressing and showering. Some of them became isolated at home unable to get out to see friends and family, or even shop so they could cook nutritious meals, when they stopped driving. This negative backdrop is often the catalyst that moves them to seek or be pushed by their adult children into assisted living.
BUT moving to an assisted living community doesn’t mean you’ve given into defeat. It’s quite the opposite. A colleague of mine says, “Assisted Living isn’t a step down; it’s a step up.” How true. Over 20 years I am still constantly amazed at how our communities do such good for people, how we open up a whole new world for older adults, just like college does for younger adults. I have seen first hand the tentative and nervous newcomer blossom into the confident resident with active interests and friends surrounding them. It’s very similar to the transformation of a college freshman.
Here’s what I want to say to seniors who insist on staying in their house lonely, bored and maybe scared, with the television as their constant companion: What are you waiting for?! Who wouldn’t want to go back to college? I bet you actually told your own college-bound kids years ago, “It’s the best four years of your life.” So why not take a deep breath, plunge into an assisted living community, give it all you’ve got, and see if you agree with me?!