Commentary by Alan Symons
As the COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out to senior communities, now is the time to upgrade your life and stop the STRESS. too many issues are going to pop up due to the fallout of the pandemic, from financial stress, to health care and political problems.
Now is the time to consider how to be happy and enjoy stress-free living. Many people are wondering, “Are senior living communities, including assisted living and independent living, safe?” Now that the vaccine is rolled out in most of the senior communities, the answer is a great big YES. The communities that have been vaccinated are the safest and most fulfilling places for an older adult to live. While moving into assisted or independent living during a pandemic could be perceived as a challenging decision, we believe now may be the smartest time to make that move.
If in doubt that you should move, just think about the lonely isolation winter will bring. Older adults have become more isolated as a result of precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with activities canceled, unease about being in public settings and favorite places closed. Senior living communities have invested in activities with opportunities for indoor exercise, gourmet dining, fitness, lifelong learning, indoor cinema and more, while doing so in a safe environment.
I have built senior independent living communities to the highest and safest standard and have learned a thing or two about how to make your life much more fulfilling and enjoyable — not to mention increase your longevity by as much as 43 percent.
Socialization: Communities are generally designed for people to get to know people of similar and different interests.
Wellness: Senior living communities offer a medical clinic on-site along with services like physical therapy, fitness centers and outdoor spaces to roam, garden, swim and take the dog for walks. Having health care and wellness services just for residents, fully integrated into the living community, with staff who take a whole-person approach to care, provides an extra layer of protection and reassurance for a much fuller and healthy life.
Financial knowledge that you are looked after forever: Today, with economic trouble from COVID-19 and uncertainty of the future, it is a good time to sell your home and put the money into an income-safe producing fund. The real estate market is hot in most areas of the country, and now is a good time to realize and lock in that value before something knocks it down. Use the cash from the home sale, income from investments, plus social security, plus other retirement funds, to pay a single monthly fee for a luxurious suite with a kitchen, living room, bedroom, large bath and walk-in closets. Or choose a two-bedroom suite. Stop worrying about being alone at home and facing a break in, roof leaks, shoveling a driveway, fixing a broken pipe. No more cable bills, no more tax bills, no more cooking and cleaning. Let the chef, chauffeur, activities director and housekeeper take over. No more exposure to the unknown.
Security and diet: With 24-hour staff seven days a week to look after you, the fear of trip and fall, or illness while all alone, is gone. Every person has an emergency button to the front desk. The building is designed to avoid injury. The chef is there to help you maintain a healthy home-cooked diet and will follow any dietary needs or desires you may have. Farm-to-table is practiced in good communities.
You want to know the four things to live up to 43 percent longer, don’t you? Well, here they are.
Reduced stress, social interaction, diet and fitness, even if just walking or swimming. You get all these and more living in a senior community.
While every community is different, look for these common threads:
- Ask to see the various options for suites.
- Ask to visit with several people now living in the community.
- Take a tour of the facilities and focus on what matters for you.
- Stay for a meal, try out the food. Is it so-so or is it very good? You will want to know that up front as you will be dining there for a long time to come.
- Look for the hair/barber salon, the fitness center. Does it have what you like? If not, ask if it can be included.
- Does the community have a chauffeur/driver and car to take you within a 15-mile radius for free?
- Check out several communities within your budget.
- The cost for good communities will be about $3,000 to $4,500 for a suite with a nice bedroom, a decent sized living kitchen bath and good closet space and about $4,000 to $6,000 for large two-bedroom suite. This one monthly rent should Include everything you need like gourmet meals, with a bistro for extra food when you want it, free TV, free driver, etc.
- Are the owner’s good operators? Just look at the search site for a rating above 4 out of 5.
- After your tour, ask yourself: Does it feel good to live there?
Alan Symons owns senior communities, including Sycamore Reserve Senior Living in Indianapolis.