The Cost of In-Home Care Versus Senior Community Living

Posted by in Research.

Many seniors have waited years — and maybe even decades — to enjoy their retirement. Often, retirement brings people the joy learning new things, catching up with friends, more family time and taking time out for yourself.

For some, those joys mainly take place in their home, while others prefer enjoying their senior years in communities.

Although there are plenty of aspects that go into the decision of staying at home or moving to a senior living community, cost is perhaps one of the most important to compare. For those who prefer to stay in their house, the burden of paying the mortgage, maintaining the property, medical treatment, along with typical costs such as groceries and activities can start to take a financial toll. 

Due to these financial concerns as well as lifestyle preferences, some seniors may opt to leave their homes and move into a senior living community. While these communities allow residents to remain active, socialize, and get care in a safe environment, the cost structure and finances that go along with the move may be difficult to compare to the costs of living at home.  

To help those who are considering a senior living community for themselves or for a loved one, a breakdown of costs for each is summarized below. This guide is meant to help those comparing the finances between living at home, receiving in-home care, and community living.

Cost of Living at Home

AARP reports that nearly 90% of seniors want to stay in their homes for as long as they can. A person’s house offers familiarity and memories, but as we age, living at home might not be the best option, physically or financially.

For instance, taking care of a home and its surrounding property often requires physical work. Even for seniors who are relatively healthy and capable of living alone, doing yard work, regular cleaning, laundry, and home maintenance can become a burden. Often, these tasks become additional monthly expenses as caretakers are hired to perform them. On average, seniors can already be responsible for the following basic monthly costs when living at home:

  • Mortgage or Rent: The median mortgage payment in the U.S. is $1,030, according to the most recent American Housing Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. For those who opt to rent, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $955, according to research by Apartment List.
  • Home or Renter’s Insurance: The average monthly cost of home insurance is $90, according to Lending Tree, while renter’s insurance costs an average of $16 a month, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
  • Utilities: The monthly cost of utilities can range for seniors depending on their usage, the time of year and where they live. On average, seniors can expect to pay the following according to information compiled by Move.com:
    • Electricity: $183
    • Gas: $82
    • Trash and Recycling: $10-$40
    • Water: $40
  • Internet, Telephone and Cable: Seniors will pay about $165 a month for a landline phone, internet and cable package, according to research by Mintel.

These standard expenses to operate a home can cost seniors between $1,451 -$1,630 each month, before including other essentials such as food and transportation.

The monthly average for groceries, transportation and other necessities is as follows:

Adding these essentials, a senior’s cost of living at home increases to between $2,591 and $2,795 each month.

In addition to these typical home-owners expenses, seniors might also need the following services, depending on their health and the status of their home:

  • Maintenance and home repairs
  • Security system
  • Laundry services
  • Health and wellness
  • Emergency call service
  • Fitness club membership

Including these services can bring a senior’s monthly living expenses to over $3,000.

Cost of In-Home Care

The Pew Research Center found that 61% of adults surveyed over the age of 65 said they preferred to stay in their home and have someone care for them if they were no longer able to live on their own.

While having in-home care can allow seniors to remain in familiar surroundings, it can also be expensive. Seniors who opt for in-home care must consider the medical cost in addition to standard at-home living expenses. According to the Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Study, the cost of hiring a home health aide for eight hours a day is $4,195 per month. For seniors that need part time care, the average hourly cost of a home care aide worker range from $16 an hour to $27 an hour, depending upon the geographical location. At 20 hours a week (four hours a day), the cost of in-home care ranges from $2,660 to $4,680. 

Combined with the cost of living in and maintaining the home, in-home care may bring a senior’s total expense to more than $7,000 per month. Of course, these estimates are dependant on many factors such as location, health, size of home, etc. Depending on a person’s financial situation, receiving in-home care may or may not be feasible for everyone.

Cost of Community Living

As stated previously, senior living communities are another great housing option for retirees. Senior living communities offer many benefits including a variety of services,  well appointed amenities, dining, social programming, and depending on the type of community, levels of care if the need arises.These benefits are meant to replace some concerns of at-home living such as home maintenance or knowing care is always available. 

Often, the cost of senior living communities is confusing to navigate at first as there is a lot of information to take in. According to Genworth’s 2018 Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of an assisted living community was $4,000 per month. However, this price can vary based on many factors including the level of care needed and location. Many may not know that senior living communities may offer financial assistance programs to help with expenses as well.

One of the most important things to factor in when considering a senior living community is all the benefits, services, and amenities included in the monthly cost. In addition to covering housing, food, and health care, senior living communities also offer “add-ons” that can help seniors enjoy their retirement.

Standard features of senior housing include:

  • Housing
  • Restaurant-style dining 
  • Personalized care when you need it

Some amenities and programs at community living can include*:

  • Social and recreational events
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Fitness clubs
  • Pools and spas
  • Gardening
  • Cooking classes
  •  Art and music classes

*Each community has a variety of levels of care and programs offered. Connect with a community near you for specific services and amenities.

Budgeting For the Care You Need

Making the decision of where to live can be difficult for both seniors and their families. While the choice may come down to a person’s health and finances, other factors like taking care of a home, getting quality health care and remaining active can have an impact when comparing costs. If you’re considering what it would cost to join a senior living community, you can use our financial planning tool to figure out what fits your budget.

What is Affordable Senior Living?

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What is Affordable Senior Living?

Unfortunately, a lot of retirees have limited funds for their retirement years. For many, entering retirement means tightening the purse strings to make their nest egg or pension go as far as it can. Let’s take a look at the resources and choices available to seniors and your options for affordable senior living.

Affordable Senior Living Options

Affordable senior living can take many different shapes. From subsidized rent in a local apartment to programs that allow seniors to live independently in their personal homes, the following are senior housing resources that fall under the “affordable” umbrella.

Traditional Housing Options

You might not need to think about retirement communities just yet.

Many seniors may be able to find traditional housing or homes to meet their care and budgetary needs. Whether that means downsizing to fit your fixed income or relocating to a more central apartment that has access to public transportation, there are cost-effective housing solutions for retirement. You may find it useful to work with a rental realtor or property management company to find the perfect fit.

Low-Income Senior Apartments

Many cities and municipalities have formalized low-income housing for people in need. These apartments are usually centrally-located with close access to transportation services, and are privately owned or subsidized by the local government

There are traditionally income, age, or disability requirements for application, and the wait-lists can be lengthy. Check with local state or city agencies to see if there are low-income housing options near you.

HUD Housing Vouchers

If you would qualify for low-income housing, but discover a lack of openings in your area, you may be able to qualify for housing vouchers. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helps low-income families and seniors “lease or purchase safe, decent, and affordable privately-owned rental housing,” if they qualify for the program.

Cooperative Housing

Don’t mind sharing responsibilities or space? An emerging trend in senior housing is cooperative housing.

In these housing agreements, the residents jointly own the apartment building or property and share costs amongst each other; each resident pays their portion of the mortgage, property taxes, and utilities. In cooperative housing, residents govern their property through councils, and provide amenities like shared social spaces and gardens. While growing in popularity, especially in the Midwest, long wait lists for application can be an issue.  

State-by-State Resources

Depending on where you live, you may have more options available to you for affordable senior living. In Washington State, adult family homes provide personal care services and other amenities in smaller, more intimate settings.

In Illinois, there are supportive living communities that are designed and operated much like assisted living, but with subsidized costs and age requirements. You can work with local support services like your Area Agency on Aging to find out if your state offers specialized, affordable senior housing.

Respite Care

For those who aren’t ready for a longterm investment, respite care is a brief visit to a retirement community that provides the same personalized care and attention to medical that a long-term resident would expect. Respite care stays can be as short as a week, or more than three months, depending on the wants and needs of the respite care resident.

A good number of people opt for respite care during the winter months, so they can enjoy socializing and activities instead of enduring the harsh elements. Respite care offers a relief from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and a welcome change of scenery!

Private Affordable Options

Many seniors find that even traditional senior living may be more affordable than continuing to live at home.

Independent and Assisted Living communities can help residents consolidate their monthly costs into one monthly fee that includes rent, food, and utilities, while eliminating expensive items like property taxes, homeowners insurance, and house repairs. With the rising cost of at-home care, retirement communities’ inclusive pricing can make sense for seniors needing personal care or help with household chores.

Another factor to consider is that senior living pricing varies greatly depending on your location, and there are many communities with affordable payment plans and financial assistance available.  

While finding the right housing in retirement can be challenging, it is good to understand all of your options. Fortunately, there are many places you can turn to find respite care and affordable senior living options right for you.

 

For more information on retirement options that fit your budget and lifestyle needs, reach out to a Senior Lifestyle community near you.

Top 10 Reasons to Live In a Retirement Community

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top 10 reasons to live in move into a retirement community

Top 10 Reasons to Live In a Retirement Community

Isn’t retirement great?

You have total freedom, are spending tons of time with friends, and have been checking off that bucket list like nobody’s business. Or have you? If you are like many seniors, your retirement might not be as fulfilling as you once imagined.

Learn how a vibrant retirement community can liven up your lifestyle and help you enjoy the retirement of your dreams.

1. Low Maintenance Living

Even in retirement, the never-ending battle against laundry, grocery shopping, bills, and that lawn (that seems to grow twice as fast each year) gets more difficult. Your household responsibilities can get in the way of your bigger goals, like long-term travel or spontaneous road trips.

Choosing to move into a retirement community can provide the low-maintenance, worry-free lifestyle of your dreams.

2. Consolidation of Expenses

Another thing you didn’t lose with retirement? That tidy stack of bills in your mailbox every month.

Do you really know how much your current lifestyle is costing you? Between home repairs, property taxes, and home insurance, it can be a good financial exercise to compare the cost of a retirement community to your current cost of living.

Retirement communities can actually help you consolidate your expenses by combining rent, food, utilities, and entertainment all in one monthly lease.

3. Upscale Living

Do you own a pool? How about a poker table, or a putting green?

Living in a community tailored to creating the good life has its advantages. Many retirement communities have upscale amenities you would never dream of owning in your own home.

  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools
  • Putting greens
  • Jacuzzis, spas, and massage rooms
  • Fireside patios and kitchens
  • Tennis courts
  • Theater rooms
  • Poker tables
  • Billiards and darts
  • Walking paths
  • Exercise equipment
  • Business centers

4. A Vibrant Social Life

It’s always a challenge to make new friends, but it can become increasingly tricky in retirement. If you’re finding your schedule a little empty, but want an engaging social life, a retirement community may be the perfect fit.

  • Happy hours and morning brunches
  • Sports lounges with national games
  • Religious study groups
  • Fitness clubs
  • Book clubs
  • Cards and Mahjong clubs
  • Coffee meetups
  • Community advisory boards
  • Local volunteer groups

5. Keeping in Shape

Staying active as you age can help you maintain your independence longer and prevent falls or injury. If self-motivation is an issue, the fitness classes and outdoor activities offered in many retirement communities may appeal to you.

  • Yoga classes
  • Swimming and water aerobics
  • Walking clubs
  • Class-based fitness
  • Gyms and free weights
  • Golf outings
  • Local hikes and greenbelts

6. Eating Well

Sometimes it’s hard to go to the trouble of cooking a nutritious meal. It’s tempting, as one blogger put it, to “Bread. Wine. Cheese. Repeat.” Choosing a retirement community can help you opt back into daily meals that nourish the body and satisfy the soul.

7. Learning, Growing, and Traveling

Aging doesn’t put a stop for the need to grow and explore the world around us. Retirement communities can make it easier to get out and discover exciting new experiences through planned excursions and travel.

  • Museums, art, and theater excursions
  • Shopping trips
  • National and international travel
  • College courses
  • On-site gardening programs

8. Personal Care Services

As we age, there are daily tasks that just aren’t as easy as they once were. It’s not embarrassing or something to fear, it’s just the facts.

Whether you need help with housekeeping or personal hygiene now, or are cognizant that one day you might, retirement communities offer the opportunity to know when that transition happens, you will be in good hands.

9. Safety and Security

You may not need any help with your daily personal care, but that doesn’t mean that accidents don’t happen.

Household accidents and falls do occur, and if you live alone, the thought of not receiving the help you need can be daunting. In a retirement community, you can be sure there is always someone there to help!

10. Transportation

Between bumper-to-bumper traffic, new roads, and “that one guy” who is always in a hurry, driving can start to feel like a chore.

Retirement communities offer transportation to their residents to help them stay active in their local communities and beyond. You don’t necessarily have to give up your keys altogether, cruise around when you feel like it, and other times let someone else worry about the new roundabout.


Learn more about our vibrant, social Independent Living communities and discover if a Senior Lifestyle apartment home is right for you!

What to Look For in Senior Apartments

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

What to Look For in Senior Apartments

Searching for a senior apartment can be, in a word, intimidating. 

As you weed through a pile of shiny community brochures (which can look more or less the same), you may feel overwhelmed about making the right decision for yourself or a loved one. 

Thankfully, there are better ways to identify a senior living apartment than going through materials from marketers. Here are some quick tips for finding the perfect senior living community for you.

How to Find a Great Senior Living Community:

1. Read Reviews and Comments

The internet can be a tricky place when looking for helpful reviews.

It’s important to never take a star-rating at face value. Devote some time to reading the comments left by the reviewers on multiple review sites, as well as social media. Of course, don’t make your decision based on reviews alone. 

However, if you live in an area with several retirement community options, reviews are a great way to whittle down your list. 

Things to look for: 

  • Generally positive reviews
  • Staff appreciation stories and anecdotes
  • Resident success stories
  • Positive employee feedback

2. Schedule a Visit

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, we encourage you to schedule a visit to get a feel for the community

It’s absolutely essential that you take the time to visit communities, and it is better if you can visit multiple times. This allows you to form a more personalized opinion based on what you see, how you feel, and the people you meet.

Things to look for: 

  • Welcoming atmosphere
  • Lots of resident-to-resident interaction
  • Warm staff-to-resident interaction
  • Laughter and activity
  • Cleanliness and attention-to-detail

3. Connect with Families, Residents, and Staff

While you are at the community, take the time to connect with other residents, visiting family members, and staff.

If you are looking for yourself, consider staying for lunch and dining with residents to get a true picture about the community. If you are a family member of someone looking to move-in, find or ask to be connected with someone who has a loved one that is a similar age or care level as your parent or loved one. If possible, connect offsite for lunch, coffee, or a call. That way, you can be sure there will not be any reservations about telling you the whole story.

4. Get the Facts

To be an educated consumer you should know all the facts. With senior living apartments, it’s important to access any applicable state or national regulatory findings for the community. 

Ask about any community-wide awards or award-winning programs available on-site. Gather information from both the community and non-biased parties, like your Area Agency on Aging, to make an informed decision about your community of choice. 

What to look for: 

  • State surveys, and specifically deficiencies
  • National and local recognition and accreditations 
  • Community involvement
  • Programmatic excellence and innovation

Avoiding a Not-So-Great Community

1. Look for Patterns

Yes, the internet is full of biased reviews.

If paid or written in the heat of the moment, they might not be an accurate representation of the community. On the other hand, they might. If you see a pattern emerging in the review or comments, don’t ignore them. 

Instead, dig a little deeper. You need to consider how the reviews are. Do they have to do with a singular staff member, or the community as a whole? Educate yourself, and if you decide to visit, ask for clarification from the community about changes made to resolve the issues identified in the reviews.

2. Trust Your Instincts

Don’t let flashy sales pitches or shiny amenities distract you from your gut instincts about a community. Pay attention to the body language of the residents, the general feeling in the room, and the actions of staff not immediately interacting with you. You will know what feels right, and what doesn’t.

Asking the Right Questions

1. When in Doubt, Ask

In situations where lifestyle, safety, and care are at stake, there are no stupid or intrusive questions. 

Don’t understand the pricing structure? Ask. Don’t like or understand a staff interaction with a resident? Ask. You have a right to full transparency. A good community will be patient and answer any questions you may have about the retirement community.

2. Daily Life

When considering the questions to ask, think about you or your loved one’s daily routine. Do you have any questions about meals or nutrition? What type of activities do you have? What about laundry?

3. The Unexpected

Not every day will be perfect. From illness  to actual natural disasters, make sure you understand the processes and protocols for an unexpected situation in the community. 

When choosing a senior living community, it’s important to access all your resources, research multiple communities, and become an educated consumer to make the right decision. 
To learn more about Senior Lifestyle’s dedication to quality, service, and innovation in senior apartments, take a look at one of our outstanding communities near you today.

Top 10 Retirement Community Trends to Look Out For in 2019

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retirement community trends 2019

Top 10 Retirement Community Trends to Look Out For in 2019

The retirement communities of today are vibrant, social spaces filled with events, excursions, and learning opportunities. It has been exciting to witness the dynamic evolution of retirement communities in the last few decades, and the new trends emerging in the next few years will not disappoint. Here are the innovative services and amenities you can look forward to entering the senior living space in 2019.

1. A Focus on Location

Whether meeting a demand for shopping, culture, fine dining, or catering to residents hoping for a relaxing setting, today’s retirement communities are aligning their services and amenities to align with their resident location desires. From beautiful resort-style properties to comforting country apartment homes and exciting urban locales, finding a retirement community to fit your tastes is getting easier each year.

2. Days Made Simpler Through Technology

Smart devices such as tablets and apps are giving residents instant access to program scheduling, activity opt-ins, and daily menus all in one place. If you are concerned about your health and safety, you can seek options for integrated wearables that track vital statistics, or can provide one-touch calls for assistance. Although many seniors are just as tech savvy as the next person, communities are focused on creating user-friendly platforms that ensure the new technology enriches the resident experience.

3. Thoughtful Design and Architecture

Environment has a tremendous impact on mood, health, and overall happiness. Retirement communities are utilizing modern architecture and design principals to make their spaces more warm, welcoming, and functional. Our staff has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to tailoring our communities to the residents. You may be amazed at how much the details of a community’s exterior and interior can impact a resident’s experience.

Retirment communities have taken note of these trends, and have developed communities with more natural sunlight, open layouts, and green spaces for residents to enjoy. The design of apartment homes has also changed, with the focus on functionality, privacy, and personal touches that help create a home-like and safe space for each individual.

4. Access to Healthcare

Always focused on catering convenient services to their residents, communities are creating better access to the healthcare seniors often need. Many properties have implemented on-site healthcare clinics that provide routine exams and urgent care for daily health concerns. In addition, many communities offer physician visits and more accessible health care.

Podiatrists, dentists, and audiologists are common visitors at many retirement communities, along with primary care physicians. When it comes to healthcare concerns, a retirement community may be the best place to be.

5. Pet-Friendly Spaces

If you are someone who can’t imagine life without your pets, you are not alone. Although many communities are pet-friendly, some properties are going above and beyond to show their commitment to your furry companions by shaping the environment and programming to cater to your pet’s happiness. These new pet-friendly amenities include off-leash dog areas, walking trails, and daily social pet programs.

6. Sophisticated Dining

A remarkable development in retirement living is the fresh approach to dining. You’ll see less and less of the drab monotony of cafeteria-style cuisine, and more restaruant style dining options. Since an increasing amount of research indicates the importance of nutrition, more retirement communities are stepping up their dining options with retirement-style cuisine and alternative meals.

Moving away from the limiting “three-square meals” itinerary, many Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) are starting to implement bistros and cafes that serve healthy, satisfying options at any time of the day. Residents will have the convenience of an on-site snack option, making it easy to grab a bite to eat between meals or buy a pick-me-up espresso before their afternoon art class.

7. Outdoor and Boutique Fitness

For active Independent Living residents, traditional exercise programs often miss the mark. Program coordinators have taken advantage of the entrance of more youthful populations to embrace energetic, outdoor, and boutique fitness options like tai chi, yoga, and walking clubs. Depending on the location, you may be able to take advantage of hiking excursions, golf access, and tennis lessons.

8. Community Involvement and Volunteerism

Maintaining a feeling of meaning and fulfillment in your retirement years is vitally important. The cultivation of community activism and volunteer opportunities meets that need head-on. Communities have taken proactive steps to involve seniors in the broader community, create more diverse social opportunities (like dancing, gardening, happy hours, and beyond) and imbue a continued sense of purpose in their residents’ lives.

9. Trips of a Lifetime and Exciting Excursions

Many people perceive retirement as a time in their life filled with adventure and days crossing off their bucket lists.

Retirement communities have taken up the challenge of helping you maintain a sense of wonder by coordinating national and international travel opportunities throughout the year. If you would rather stay closer to home, other programs have focused on creating exciting local experiences like skydiving, kayaking, and balloon rides.

10. Personal Expression and Growth

Forward-thinking communities have implemented education and programming options that help you explore unrealized interests and untapped creative pursuits. From art centers and music lessons to college courses and book clubs, the possibilities are endless to discover new things about yourself and the world.


The senior living space is growing more exciting and adventurous each year. Senior Lifestyle is dedicated to providing these types of innovations and programs in our Independent Living communities.

For more information about the innovations in our our beautiful Independent Living communities, connect with a community near you today!

7 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

7 signs of caregiver burnout

7 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Does your spouse, partner, child, sister, brother, parent or friend require constant care? If so, you’re not alone. More than 65 million people care for a family member or friend. That’s almost a third of the American population.

As a caregiver, you may feel exhausted or frustrated. Over time, these feelings can get worse, and may lead to bigger problems for you and the one you care for.

Caring for your loved one takes constant effort, and it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. If the long-term stress of caregiving is taking a toll on your mental health and wellness, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.

What is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout is a state of stress related exhaustion associated with  the difficulties of caregiving. The exhaustion of caregiver burnout may be physical, mental, or emotional, and may lead to feelings of guilt. This condition is often confused with clinical depression, as caregiver burnout and depression share many of the same symptoms. Though these conditions are similar, caregiver burnout is unique to caregivers.

According to the AARP, 38% of caregivers describe their caregiving situations as “highly stressful,” and 22% of caregivers say their health has worsened due to caregiving. Family caregivers are more likely to have a chronic illness, and 34% rate their health as “fair” or “poor.” 70% of family caregivers show signs of depression, as the constant focus on caring for another can lead a caregiver to neglect their own health.

Here are seven signs that you might be experiencing caregiver burnout:

7 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

  1. Exhaustion

Caregivers often experience a combination of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. When you spend a lot of time and energy caring for a loved one, it’s easy to forget to care for yourself. If you constantly feel sluggish, and basic tasks feel unreasonably difficult, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.

2. Sleep problems

If you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or you sleep too much, caregiver burnout may be the cause. Family caregivers can become anxious about their loved one, and may spend the night worrying. Caregivers may have a hard time getting out of bed, or spend too much time sleeping. 76% of caregivers report low-quality sleep, which contributes to depression, fatigue, and anxiety.

3. Weight gain

During periods of high stress, the stress hormone cortisol rises, and can cause unhealthy cravings. Daily stress is a fact of life for millions of caregivers, and they are an at-risk group for weight gain and obesity. When caregivers are on a time-crunch, they may opt for fast food or a pizza delivery, as opposed to a healthy meal. If caregiving has impacted your nutrition, you may be living with caregiver burnout.

4. Feeling sad or hopeless

Millions of people provide care inside of their own home. This can make the task of caregiving feel inescapable, especially for long term care. Caregiving can feel futile, thankless, or bleak, and these feelings can really impact your perspective. Feeling constantly sad or hopeless  is a strong sign of caregiver burnout.

5. More frequent illnesses

Stress has an adverse effect on your immune system, and caregivers may get sick more frequently than other professionals. Getting sick can cause even more stress for the caregiver, and the one being cared for. This can develop a vicious cycle for caregivers, as more stress means more sickness, and more sickness means more stress.

6. Withdrawing from your friends and passions

Isolating is a common coping mechanism for overworked caregivers. Exhausted caregivers may not feel up to socializing, or working on their hobbies. Caregiving may take over the life of the caregiver, and there may not be room in their life for meaningful pastimes and relationships. If caring for your loved one feels like the only thing that you do, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.

7. Frustration with yourself or your loved one

Intense emotion is a common response to intense stress, and occasional frustration is inevitable in caregiving. You may feel like you’re at your breaking point, as stress, anxiety, and guilt mounts. When you begin to experience escalating frustration or anger, it may be time to remove yourself from the situation, and let someone else take over. If there are no close friends or family members who can step in, it may be time to consult a retirement community.

Finding a Retirement Community You Can Count On

Choosing a retirement community for your loved one can be a tremendous challenge. You may have preconceived notions of what these communities look like, and you may feel complicated emotions. Though relocating a loved one to a community is a difficult decision, it’s also an important one. If you feel burned out as a caregiver, it may be time to relocate your loved one to an Independent Living, Assisted Living, or Memory Care community.

At Senior Lifestyle, we connect with your loved one, and encourage meaningful connections with others. Giving your loved one the retirement he or she deserves, while providing a sense of community will give you both a sense of purpose and relief. If you think that it may be time for an Assisted Living community,  find a retirement community close to you.

Understanding Sundowners Syndrome in People with Dementia

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sundowners syndrome in people with dementia

Understanding Sundowners Syndrome in People with Dementia

Learn about the often-misunderstood effects of Sundowners syndrome, including symptoms and treatment options with Senior Lifestyle.

Sundowners syndrome can be a major source of stress for both the people who live with it, and those who care for them. The condition is still shrouded in mystery to much of the medical community and its specific causes are not yet fully understood. The medical uncertainty of sundowners syndrome makes treatment a challenge. With patience, understanding, and guidance, the effects of sundowners syndrome can be reduced.

What is Sundowners Syndrome?

Sundowners syndrome is a common symptom of dementia where confusion, frustration, and agitation becomes more acute in the evenings. Diminishing light in the evening can frighten or confuse people with dementia. Those who live with Sundowne’s syndrome generally experience symptoms around sunset, which is where the condition gets its name.

Sundowner’s syndrome (also known as Sundown syndrome or simply sundowning) is not a disease in its own right, but rather a distinct pattern of symptoms that accompany dementia.

Symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome

People living with Sundowners syndrome may experience a variety of symptoms and diagnosis can be difficult. If you think your loved one may have Sundowners syndrome, consult a medical professional. Symptoms of Sundowners syndrome may include any combination of the following symptoms after sunset, or in the evenings:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Delusional thinking
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Pacing
  • Wandering

If you see signs of Sundowners syndrome, consider consulting a medical professional or Memory Care community near you for guidance.

Potential Causes of Sundowners Syndrome to the embrace

Scientists have associated the symptoms of Sundowners syndrome with a disruption of circadian rhythm (your daily biological clock), along with various environmental and social factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, fatigue, low lighting, and increased shadows may exacerbate the effects of Sundowners syndrome.

Treatment Options for Sundowners Syndrome

There is no universal treatment for Sundowners syndrome. Since the causes of Sundowners syndrome are still uncertain, a comprehensive treatment has yet to be established. Despite the uncertain cause, small adjustments in daily behavior have been shown to ease the symptoms.

Here are a few ways you can reduce the symptoms in your loved ones.

  1. Maintain a regular schedule

A consistent routine keeps your circadian rhythm in check. Symptoms of Sundowners syndrome have been shown to decrease in people with a firm schedule.

2. Keep your loved one’s environment well-lit in the evenings

Light has a huge effect on mood, and a well-lit room has a lower chance of frightening or confusing someone with Sundowners syndrome.

3. Reduce caffeine intake

One of the most common causes of sleep irregularity is caffeine, especially  in the afternoons. Coffee, tea, and many soft drinks have high levels of caffeine. Caffeine can affect sleep quality or cause insomnia, which is shown to exacerbate Sundowners syndrome symptoms. Try replacing coffee with something caffeine-free and relaxing, like chamomile tea.

4. Encourage daytime activity

Activity and healthy stimulation is important for people living with dementia, and increased exertion promotes better sleep quality. Daytime activity promotes a healthy circadian rhythm and can reduce the severity of symptoms.

5. Discourage afternoon napping

A person who naps in the afternoon is more likely to have trouble falling asleep, or sleeping all the way through the night. Encourage your loved one to rise with the sun and sleep at night.

6. Encourage healthy eating habits

Diet and nutrition have a huge effect on mood and health overall. A healthy diet paired with a regular sleep schedule has been shown to reduce the effects of Sundowners syndrome. For inspiration on healthy diet choices for dementia, check out our guide to nutrition.

7. Prescription medication

Sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression can all contribute to Sundowners syndrome. In some cases, prescription medications can improve sleep quality, and reduce agitation, anxiety, and frustration. Sundowners syndrome is a complex condition with several contributing factors. Oftentimes, treating one aspect of Sundowners syndrome can have a rippling effect.

Until both dementia and Sundowners syndrome is better understood, caregivers are encouraged to communicate with doctors, nurses, and Memory Care providers. Pay attention to the specific sundowning triggers, and establish a strong system of support and communication.

Keep a record of any behaviors or triggers associated with Sundowners syndrome and know that you can always reach out for support if you need it.

Sundowners syndrome can be frightening for you and your loved one, but you always have resources available. For more information about Sundowners syndrome, and Memory Care community resources, reach out to a Senior Lifestyle community near you today.

 

What is Senior Isolation, and What Can You do to Help?

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

senior isolation

What is Senior Isolation, and What Can You do to Help?

Do you feel isolated in your own home? Do you feel removed from family and friends? Do you feel alone with your own thoughts, with no one to talk to and no opportunity to engage with your community? Unfortunately, for a large and growing number of seniors, the answer is yes.

Approximately 12.5 million older adults live in one-person households, representing 28% of people aged 65 or older. According to the Council on Contemporary Families, it only gets worse; by the time people reach age 85, about 40% live by themselves.

The thought of our aging parents, grandparents and loved ones living alone is sad enough, but the concern gets even worse when we look at what the research says about the effect of isolation and loneliness on seniors.

Facts About Senior Isolation and Loneliness

Isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in older adults

In 148 longitudinal studies with more than 300,000 participants, older individuals with strong social ties had a 50% greater likelihood of survival over the study period (average of 7.5 years) compared with those who report feeling isolated or lonely due to poor social networks and relationships. According to the authors of one study on senior isolation and mortality, “This effect is greater than that of other well-established risk factors for mortality such as physical inactivity and obesity, and comparable with cigarette smoking.”

Senior isolation can negatively impact physical and mental health

In a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London found that seniors who report feeling lonely and isolated are more likely to report having poor physical and/or mental health. Multiple studies have shown that individuals with poor social networks and relationships are more likely to suffer from hypertension, coronary artery disease or cardiac failure, and are more likely to experience psychological distress. Social isolation and loneliness in older adults has also been linked with a greater likelihood of unhealthy behaviors, such as inactivity and smoking.

Isolation may limit access to benefits and services

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the physical, cultural and geographical barriers that isolate seniors from their peers and communities “can prevent them from receiving benefits and services that can improve their economic security and their ability to live healthy, independent lives.” By not taking advantage of such benefits and services, seniors may become even more disconnected to their family, friends and communities as their financial situation worsens or as their physical/mental health declines.

How to Help Lonely or Isolated Seniors Reconnect

Address health issues that may contribute to isolation

Seniors can become withdrawn and isolated for several reasons, including undiagnosed or untreated health issues. Seniors who experience incontinence, for example, may be hesitant to leave their homes, or seniors hearing difficulties or deteriorating vision may avoid social situations out of embarrassment or frustration. Talk with your loved one about their health and address any issues that may be limiting their social life. You may need to speak with your loved one’s caregivers or health providers for a clearer picture of their overall health.

Encourage self-esteem and self-confidence

Body image doesn’t get as much attention as other aging concerns, but it can be a major contributing factor to senior isolation. Older adults may become self-conscious about their appearance to the point that they avoid social interactions entirely. Compliments and positive comments about your loved one’s appearance can go a long way and may even provide a boost of self-esteem and self-confidence that helps your loved one get out and reconnect with the world. Researchers have also found that boosting self-esteem can buffer potential health threats in seniors.

Give your loved one a pet

Taking care of an animal can combat senior isolation and loneliness in many ways. For seniors who are healthy enough to engage in physical activity, having a dog means going on walks and visiting dog parks—in other words, getting out of the house. Pets also serve as a social icebreaker and can make it easier for seniors to strike up conversations with strangers. If your loved one is not capable or willing to care for a pet on their own, check to see if there are any volunteer organizations in your city that match therapy animals with homebound seniors for weekly visits, such as Therapy Dogs International and Caregiver Canines. Animal companionship alone may be enough to help ward off feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Make transportation easier

An analysis of data from the National Household Travel Survey found that among adults 65 and older who reported not leaving home in the past week, more than half reported that they would like to get out more often. Lack of transportation is one reason why seniors may not get out as much or as often as they would like. Offer rides to older loved ones or introduce them to rideshare services like Lyft and Uber to make it easier for them to get out of the house.

Notify neighbors, friends and caregivers

If you’re concerned that an aging parent, grandparent or loved one is isolated and lonely, notify other people in their lives who can help make a difference. If a loved one is aging in place, for example, reach out to their neighbors and explain your concerns. Caregivers and health providers should also be notified if you are worried that a loved one is not getting as much social interaction as they want or need.

Socially-Focused Senior Living

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that social wellness may be more difficult to attain for seniors, especially those who are limited by health problems or who don’t live near family and friends. That’s why we provide activities and events designed specifically to increase social interactions and enrich the lives of those we serve. Learn more about how we help seniors socialize in comfortable, welcoming environments.

 

Moving Elderly Parents When They Don’t Want To

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

moving aging parents who don't want to

Moving elderly parents when they don’t want to

Moving isn’t fun, change can be difficult, and home is … well, it’s home. The best time to have the conversation with aging parents is before a crisis happens.

We’ve got some tips that might make the conversation easier.

How to start the conversation about senior living

Sometimes talking to your parents about community living starts with a simple question like, “What are your biggest daily struggles?” Ask them how you can help.

Most of us don’t respond well when someone starts a tough conversation by saying, “You need to …” or “You should ….” As you approach the idea of senior living with your parents, remember that they still see themselves as your parent; you are their child, no matter how old you are.

While you may be able to continue discussing options from there, you may also want to leave the initial conversation at that. Unless there is an immediate need or you are concerned that your parents are not safe, you might want to take a slower approach to moving them from their house into a senior living community.

How to take the conversation to the next step

Ask your parents if they’ve thought about selling their home and using the equity to move into a place that might be more comfortable and lower maintenance.

Would they mind if you look at home estimates on websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com? Put together a list of home-related expenses such as utilities, property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs; compare that list with the cost of senior living, which covers all those expenses and more. It’s hard to argue with data; if you can show your parents that selling their home and moving into a full-service senior living community will, ultimately, save them money, that may help ease their anxieties.

You might also gather estimates for renovations to their owned home, such as installing:

  • Non-skid flooring and removing slippery rugs
  • Grab bars in bathrooms
  • Medical alert or security alarms
  • Outside ramps, if stairs become difficult to navigate
  • Handrails along stairs, hallways
  • Motion-activated, bright lighting in hallways, closets and stairwells
  • Wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers
  • Stair climbers
  • Walk-in bathtub/non-slip shower
  • Security cameras

Get professional advice for your parents

If your parents are in any danger of falling or if you have serious concerns about their abilities to care for themselves or each other, you might enlist the help of third-party professionals.

An accountant or financial advisor can help them understand the costs and expenses associated with aging in place versus selling their home and using the equity to enjoy the rest of their lives in a senior living community.

Your parents’ healthcare professionals might be able to talk to your parents about their long-term needs and what to expect if they have medical conditions that may come with mobility or memory issues. Your parents may be more open to hearing about their options from professionals.

If you have friends whose parents have sold their homes and moved to senior living communities, invite them to share their stories. Ask if you and your parents can visit them. Sometimes hearing someone else’s story about making such a big change so late in life can be comforting.

Schedule tours of senior living communities

Sometimes, persuading your parents that moving into a senior lifestyle community is as simple as visiting a community in your area. These visits will allow you and your loved one to explore the many options that are available.

Schedule tours at several communities. Arrange to go during active times, such as meals or when there is a social event. Some senior communities will allow potential residents to join meals and mingle with other residents.

Go to each tour with a list of questions and a checklist of features to evaluate.  Talk to the community’s staff about costs and what the living fees include. Your parents may be pleasantly surprised at all the amenities and perks that come with senior living.

Create an aging plan with your parents

If, after all the facts, conversations, and professional advice, your parents still refuse to sell the house and move, then tell them you want to make an aging plan so that when and if something does happen, and they need care, you’ve got a plan in place.

The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) suggests a five-point strategy for an aging plan:

  1. Get a medical alert system. Look for a system that has a fall alert sensor. You might also explore options with smart speakers from Amazon Echo, Apple Homepod and Google Home. These devices have apps that can help seniors with things like medication reminders, daily routines, turning off and on lights and calling friends and family.  
  2. List all medications. Write down all medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, including dosages, prescribing doctor and frequency and put the list in a place where your parents and you can easily access it.
  3. Note allergies. Along with the list of medications, including any food, medication or other allergies, such as to latex or adhesives.
  4. Write and display a community DNR. What’s a community DNR? If your parents have a do-not-resuscitate order, does it also apply to medical emergencies that happen in the community, outside a hospital or healthcare setting? If not, make sure it does.

Schedule — and make — a daily check-in call. Ask your parents to agree to make or receive a daily check-in call. Listen for abnormalities in their speech. Have a pla

Seeking guardianship over your parents

Guardianship gives you the legal right to make decisions for your parents. While we at Senior Lifestyle are not legal advisers, we do recommend you work with your family attorney to help you understand the process for taking legal guardianship over a parent or loved one.

According to Findlaw, the guardianship process can take a long time and be expensive. Your family attorney can help you understand your state’s requirements for guardianship, but they will likely involve some form of these steps:

  1. Filing a petition to the court explaining why you seek guardianship
  2. Informing the elderly person and other family members
  3. Investigation by the court
  4. A hearing where a judge makes a decision

Talk to a senior living professional

Use our interactive map to find senior living communities in your parents’ area. Browse the photos, read the descriptions, and bookmark your favorites. Look at the floorplans, read the testimonials from other residents, and explore the communities’ programs. Schedule an appointment to meet with the staff and talk through your parents’ concerns.  

 

 

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?

Posted by in Research.

How much does assisted living cost

How much does assisted living cost?

Assisted living is for adults who want to live independently but may want help from time to time with daily activities such as housekeeping, getting to medical appointments, preparing meals, and managing medications.

Think of assisted living as “care that’s always there.” Look for assisted living communities that are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week year-round and offer the services and amenities that you want and need!

The short answer to the cost of assisted living is, “It depends.” Assisted living costs depend on a number of factors, such as level of care required, location, size, and miscellaneous amenities, which we’ll cover in the rest of this article. We’ll unpack the costs in this article, so you can understand what you get for the money at Senior Lifestyle’s assisted living communities.

Levels of care at assisted living

Typically an assisted living community will begin by meeting with you to understand your needs and create a plan to make sure your needs (and preferences) are met.

For example, Senior Lifestyle assisted living communities begin with a Personalized Service Plan. You meet with a nurse who helps you determine the services and care you need. The plan is adjusted based on your needs as they change.

Some examples of the types of services that go into plans:

  • Medication management: Making sure you take your prescriptions on time, and you get them refilled and updated as your doctor prescribes.
  • Dressing and bathing: Our professionally trained team can help you with activities of daily living such as getting dressed and basic grooming.
  • Housekeeping and maintenance: The staff at assisted living facilities maintains common areas and buildings. If you prefer to have your home professionally cleaned, that will go into your Personalized Service Plan.
  • Dining and dietary management: When you move into assisted living, you’re joining a community, and mealtime tends to be a favorite time among residents who live at Senior Lifestyle communities. Your Personal Service Plan will communicate to the executive chef any dietary limitations or goals.

As you schedule tours to visit assisted living communities, ask about the staff-to-resident ratio. You want a well-staffed community, so it’s important to understand what you get for the price, especially the number of licensed professionals who are on staff, such as nurses and other healthcare providers.

Location affects cost of living

What is the mantra among real estate agents? It’s all about location, location, location. It’s true for assisted living communities.

The average annual cost of assisted living in the United States is $48,000, according to Genworth’s Annual Cost of Care Report. The table below shows average annual costs for assisted living in states with Senior Lifestyle assisted living communities.

Within each state, as you know, costs of living vary — urban areas tend to cost more than rural areas, and costs of living are affected by housing costs, transportation costs, education, access to medical care, and costs of consumer goods such as food and clothing.

This table will give you an idea of how much your home state compares to other states. If you ever have questions or concerns about the costs of assisted living, you can find a representative by locating the Senior Lifestyle community nearest you.

State Average annual cost for a one-bedroom assisted living home Average monthly cost
Alabama $39,252 $3,271
Alaska $75,600 $6,300
Arizona $45,600 $3,800
California $54,000 $4,500
Colorado $48,000 $4,000
Connecticut $56,400 $4.700
Delaware $64,200 $5,350
District of Columbia $111,195 $9,266
Florida $42,000 $3,500
Georgia $37,200 $3,100
Hawaii $66,000 $5,500
Idaho $41,700 $3,475
Illinois $48,360 $4,030
Indiana $52,620 $4,385
Iowa $46,158 $3,847
Kansas $54,675 $4,556
Kentucky $42,240 $3,520
Louisiana $42,600 $3,550
Maine $59,400 $4,950
Maryland $56,070 $4,672
Massachusetts $65,940 $5,495
Michigan $46,200 $3,850
Minnesota $48,000 $4,000
Mississippi $41,910 $3,493
Missouri $34,128 $2,844
Montana $47,028 $3,919
Nebraska $46,131 $3,844
Nevada $42,000 $3,500
New Hampshire $56,100 $4,675
New Jersey $72,780 $6,065
New Mexico $51,000 $4,250
New York $50,220 $4,185
North Carolina $44,318 $3,693
North Dakota $39,780 $3,315
Ohio $51,336 $4,278
Oklahoma $39,900 $3,325
Oregon $55,110 $4,592
Pennsylvania $45,000 $3,750
Rhode Island $52,200 $4,350
South Carolina $42,000 $3,500
South Dakota $42,000 $3,500
Tennessee $47,040 $3,920
Texas $45,540 $3,795
Utah $40,200 $3,350
Vermont $54,000 $4,500
Virginia $53,415 $4,451
Washington $61,620 $5,135
West Virginia $43,425 $3,619
Wisconsin $51,600 $4,300
Wyoming $50,820 $4,235

Source: Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Survey

Use this calculator to compare the cost of assisted living with the cost of owning your own home. When you look at the cost of assisted living, keep in mind that your monthly cost covers:

  • Telephone
  • Cable
  • Utilities
  • Association fees
  • Lawn care and maintenance
  • Housekeeping
  • Home maintenance and repairs
  • 24-hour security
  • Food
  • Social, recreational and cultural activities
  • Health and fitness activities
  • Daily life enrichment programs

So, total how much you currently pay for your independent living life — your gym membership, landscaper, cable TV bill, and utilities. Those are all included when you live in a Senior Lifestyle community.

Size and amenities that affect assisted living costs

Just like any house, apartment or condo, the size of the floor plan will affect the cost; the more square footage, the higher the cost. Most assisted living communities offer one- and two-bedroom options, and a few even offer Studio options.  

Amenities are what makes senior living fun, and we at Senior Lifestyle love to talk about the amenities we offer for our residents.

  • Meals are prepared daily by an executive chef and served restaurant-style by a professional service staff.
  • Snacks are available all day, at your convenience and in line with dietary restrictions that you might have.
  • Transportation services will take you to local shopping, medical appointments and local entertainment venues like the theater and museums.

Life Enrichment Programs are a hallmark of Senior Lifestyle communities. These programs are designed to exercise and entertain your mind and body, so you can live the best life possible. Examples of Life Enrichment include gardening, Brain Health University, technology classes and a good old-fashion happy hour.

Assisted living next steps

You may be considering several options for this next chapter of your life. Explore our assisted living options, and don’t hesitate to schedule a visit of a Senior Lifestyle property. Our team looks forward to meeting you, and they love to talk about our wonderful assisted living properties.