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Why senior living communities are better

by Alan Symons

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes or long-term care facilities are generally institutionally owned by a church, hospital, municipalities or private owners. As a result, some nursing homes tend to look like hospitals, typically staffed by medical caregivers. In many cases, they suffer from poor funding and most house chronically ill people, which is one of the reasons for the large outbreak of serious health issues in nursing homes.

In the private ownership segment, there is a movement to build smaller POD type long-term care facilities with 10 to 20 beds and large dining and activity rooms staffed with several nurses.

Nursing homes usually receive payment from government health insurance like Medicaid and Medicare and in some cases the resident supplements with Social Security payments to cover living there. Food served in a nursing home is nutritious, but is institutional and usually not made to order.

Not all long-term care is dire. Some facilities are very nice and well run, but a few bad facilities ruin it for the ones who run great communities.

Senior Living Communities

Independent Living (IL) is mostly private pay and is suitable for people who don’t need a lot of help in day-to-day living. Assisted living (AL) is a good choice for seniors who need caregivers for basic needs, such as help with personal care needs, daily medication, etc. Memory care (MC) is a broader form of care that assists with more than just memory challenges, but also basic needs including help with feeding and daily life.

Some communities are multi-service or known as CCRC (continuing care retirement communities), where one begins in an independent living apartment, moves to a separate assisted living section with smaller rooms, separate dining and care and sometimes in to an isolated memory care area if needed.

Some people like the idea of a CCRC as they feel that they never truly have to “move” from one level of care to the next. The reality is that no matter where you will “move” when health conditions dictate - whether a separate section in the same community or across the street, you will move to different surroundings with different people. As a result, you will experience many of the same negative aspects of moving that you may be trying to avoid.

CCRC, Assisted Living and Memory Care, provide a great deal of medical care and are licensed under government mandates and oversight. In the current climate, if a memory care resident, for example, gets sick from the flu or virus, then the entire community may be ‘locked down’ and no residents will be allowed to leave their rooms.

Unfortunately, many independent and active seniors have been locked down for almost 8 weeks with no visitors and stuck in their rooms. The recent virus has hit a few such multi service communities, but mainly in Assisted and Memory Care where chronic illness makes them more vulnerable. These communities experience large volumes of medical caregivers where some might transmit the virus coming and going.

True Independent Senior Living Communities

True independent senior living communities (IL) are filled with active residents enjoying the fruits of their labor from many years of hard work. The communities offer lovely apartments and many amenities similar to a 5-star resort including: full service dining, driver to appointments and shopping, weekly housekeeping, activities, hobbies, fitness and wellness programs. Some have putting greens, swimming pools and other educational and travel activities.

True independent living has had virtually no exposure to the virus due primarily to the low volume of external caregivers transmitting the disease among residents. Most did not have to lock down at all, but did take great care to sanitize their communities, wear protective facemasks, and enforce temperature checks on both residents and staff. Sycamore Reserve practices full CDC compliance, and even installed a UV light system in the main air handlers.

The Benefits of Senior Living Communities

The reason it’s better to live in a senior living community of any type, is enjoying a longer, happier and healthier life! There are several studies that have shown that four things will increase one’s longevity by up to 43%:

  • Healthy Diet
  • Fitness / Exercise
  • Social Interaction
  • Happiness / Lack of Stress

Living alone usually fails to check all four of these boxes. There’s the risk of falling and getting hurt with no one to help. Seniors living alone tend to have a poor routine, including diet, lack of exercise and limited social interaction. Even grocery shopping is a risk which goes away when living in a senior community.

Living alone also carries a lot of stress for seniors. There are worries that the roof might fall in, a burglary could occur; even routine repairs and managing the house might be too much.

Moving into a good quality independent living community can benefit you with up to a 43% longer life and a great deal of fun! After 70 years or more on earth, it’s time for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

There is no real rating system for senior living communities, but pricing per square foot of living space is a good gauge, and touring the communities is a must!

The Cost Of Independent Living

The cost, which runs about $100 to $150 per day is less than it costs to live alone in a house or condominium. At Sycamore Reserve, it is about $100 per day. Four and five-star hotels charge between $400 and $450 per day for a comparably sized area! That doesn’t include all day gourmet food service.

At about $35,000 annually, on average, for a large living room, bedroom, bath, kitchen and closet, Sycamore Reserve or a similar community, also provides all your meals, ensuring a healthy, gourmet diet, activities and a driver to shopping and appointments.

The cost of living alone when the value of the home is around $350,000 costs about $48,000 annually broken down between mortgage or lost use of money ($15,000), taxes ($4,000), utilities ($3,800), cable ($3,000), food ($6,000), car ($4,000), repairs and maintenance ($10,000) and insurance ($3,000).

At CCRC or assisted living communities the costs go up as you add more services for health care. Some even charge a large buy-in fee, around $500,000 plus a monthly fee of $2,500 or more, just to be a resident. They do return around 80% to one’s estate, but some have gone bankrupt and the estate loses out.

The bottom line is, moving into senior living is a great thing to do at some point when it’s right for you. Over 95% say after moving in, ‘”I should have done this years ago.” I got into the business of building senior communities after encouraging my Mom to move out of my sister’s home. She was reluctant at first, but on Valentine’s Day 2011, she moved in and she fell in love. I had to make an appointment to visit her in Toronto due to her being so happily active with her friends.

I hope this helps take the mystery out of the various types of senior living and it helps explain why thousands have decided that moving into a senior living community is the right move!

Alan Symons
Owner, Sycamore Reserve
Independent Senior Living Community

Learn More

To find out how Sycamore Reserve can help you live a truly independent lifestyle, please contact Shawn Gann, Assistant Director and Director of Sales & Marketing at (317) 516-5200.

Tags: Sycamore Reserve, senior living, independent senior living, nursing homes