People are living longer. Most Americans retire at roughly 63, but there are still many more years of life beyond that retirement age. An aging population brings both benefits and challenges. The type of services and systems needed to cater to an aging population are numerous. Housing demands will change as older populations seek smaller dwellings or move in to assisted living or retirement communities catering to independent living. A recent Harvard University study noted that the number of older people living alone will most likely rise and that this in turn will drive increased demand for in-home healthcare and supportive services.
Most (almost three quarters) of all assisted living residents in the United States are women and at least three-fourths of those living in such assisted living facilities have common chronic conditions such as high blood pressure. Dementia, Alzheimer’s and similar conditions are also common. Close to 40% of those living in assisted living options have had to have help with daily activities including dressing and bathing.
The benefits of assisted living centers and communities are the 24-hour supervision provided, the provision of three full meals every day as well as snacks, and a number of services such as medication management, social services, laundry services, and housekeeping that improve quality of life and encourage independence.
One of the other senior living options is to move into an independent living retirement community. Research shows that seniors ins much communities try new things an make new friends and on the whole find the experience much more positive than anticipated. For most seniors (55%), the fear of being a burden to family as a result of long-term illness is the greatest worry. It is such a worry that it is even five times more of a concern than death. Good health is listed as the most important ingredient for happiness in retirement by over 80% of those surveyed, and just less than half of retirees report being happier than expected after they retire.
Having a community where you can engage in activities, socialize and make connections is a vital part of retirement and can make the difference between a miserable retirement and a joyous one. Participation in three to four regular activities results in the happiest retirees, while those who do only one or two are the least happy. Retirees and their families should weigh up the senior living options to determine the best fit for their needs.
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