What Are You Waiting For? Why It’s Better To Move Your Loved One To Senior Living Earlier

Dec 4, 2023 | Planning for Long Term Care

We know that when it comes to your parent, you want things to stay the same for just a little longer. And maybe you’re not quite sure that they’ll be happy in senior living. We know because we felt the same way. That’s why we founded Sundara – to create a senior living community that felt good enough for our own parents.

While moving a parent to senior living can be upsetting, it’s better to make the move sooner rather than later. Senior living offers older adults so many opportunities for an improved quality of life. If you think your parent could benefit from some daily help or a more active social life, or if they have dementia or are struggling with their activities of daily living (ADLs), it might be time for senior living.

Related: 8 Red Flags of Dementia To Look for When Visiting Aging Parents

Older Adults Become Less Frail After Making the Move To Senior Living

Earlier this year, research from NORC (National Opinion Research Center) at the University of Chicago found that older adults who had “heightened vulnerability to illness and impaired mobility” experienced an improvement after making the move to senior living. After living in senior living for a while, their frailty levels quickly plateaued and then declined.

NORC’s findings were based on a review of Medicare claims of residents from over 14,000 senior living properties. Using a frailty index developed by researchers at Harvard University, they found that residents experienced a 10% decline in frailty levels one year after moving into senior living.

Dianne Munevar, lead researcher at NORC says:

“Non-medical care and services like socialization, transportation, exercise, balanced nutrition, medication management and others have a positive impact on a resident’s health.”

Moving Older Adults To Senior Living Earlier Can Offset Hospitalization and Other Medical Costs

Older adults are at a high risk for illnesses, medical complications and falls and other injuries in the home. This leads to more hospitalizations, especially for individuals who live alone. 

Angela Stewart, vice president of clinical services with Touchmark, a Beaverton, Oregon-based senior living company says:

“Moving into assisted living earlier can offset higher costs associated with hospitalizations, one-to-one care or the decline that occurs when one doesn’t optimize their best health.”

Older Adults Are Safer in a Senior Living Community

If your parent lives alone, you’re probably worried about them more often than not. Medical emergencies, natural disasters, property damage and home invasions are things that we all worry about sometimes, but older adults living alone are especially vulnerable to them. Senior living communities typically provide a security team and other safety features, which can offer peace of mind for both you and your parent.

Senior Living Offers Older Adults Opportunities for Much-Needed Socialization

Socialization opportunities are probably the most beneficial aspect of a senior living community. Many older adults, especially those who live alone, don’t have access to many social opportunities. They may no longer have friends or family nearby or may be unable to leave their home alone due to limited mobility.

Loneliness and social isolation can have profound impacts on an individual’s mental and physical health. Studies have found that:

  • Social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity
  • Social isolation is associated with roughly a 50% increased risk of dementia
  • Poor social relationships are associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke
  • Loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide
  • Loneliness among heart failure patients is associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits

Socializationimproves mood, cognition, memory recall, and is associated with healthy behaviors, including exercise.”

It’s not just socialization that’s important – a sense of community also matters. Being part of a community is associated with “better health outcomes, higher levels of activity, and more positive moods for older adults” as well as “a sense of purpose and a support network.” That’s one of the reasons we so often see improved health in older adults after they move into a senior living community.

Older Adults With Dementia Have a Higher Quality of Life in Specialized Senior Living

Older adults with dementia benefit from senior living just like their peers, but they see the best results from senior living that’s specialized for them. Memory care is a type of senior living that is designed for older adults with dementia. 

Memory care communities offer all the features you’ll find at most senior care communities – private or semi-private rooms, furnished common areas, help with ADLs, meals and snacks – as well as safety and security features designed to prevent wandering and elopement. The ideal community will also offer activities designed to provide social opportunities and improve and maintain cognitive skills and overall wellness.

Senior Living for Dementia in Round Rock, Texas

At Sundara, we provide all of the above and more for our residents. We like to say “smaller is better” and research continues to prove that that’s true. Smaller settings minimize visual and aural overstimulation for individuals with dementia, as opposed to larger living spaces which provoke disorientation and higher levels of agitation. A smaller staff means more one-on-one time with each resident. It also means we can take the time to get to know each of our residents, which allows us to take care of their unique needs and wants.

Ready to see the Sundara Difference?

Schedule your visit today.