You parents promised to be with each other in sickness and in health. Now your mom has Alzheimer’s and needs memory care, but your dad, who is still playing golf every Wednesday, doesn’t want to leave her side.
Fortunately, there is a growing movement among assisted living and memory care communities to cater to couples who have opposing senior care needs, says Lindsay Redin, executive director or the Ivy at Ellington.
Senior Housing Options for Couples
The Ivy at Ellington offers the same options to couples as it does to every other resident. If one spouse needs the extra support that the Reflections Memory Care Community offers, the couple can live in a one- or two-bedroom apartment in the Reflections neighborhood, but they can move freely throughout the community, participating in the traditional activities program, eating with their fellow residents, and going on excursions.
Making the move to a senior living community is always a major life change, but when a couple can make that move together, the transition becomes a little easier, Redin says.
“By moving in as a couple, you establish a very similar routine in your new household as there was before, creating a more seamless transition,” she says. “Additionally, it is so important both partners become established in the community. Then, if down the road one passes, the remaining spouse is already established in the community and feels that connection with other residents who live there, which makes the grieving process a bit easier.”
Benefits of Assisted Living for Couples
There are a lot of benefits of assisted living. From elegant dining rooms, pubs, and outdoor porches to wellness clinics, afternoon yoga, and excursions, assisted living facilities provide convenience, happiness, and improved quality of life.
For couples with opposing senior care needs, the benefits of assisted living are even greater.
“More often than not, we see couples in distress,” Redin says. “One spouse is lacking the full spectrum of support that they need, while the other spouse is suffering from caregiver fatigue caused by trying to provide for their spouse in need. Having both partners here takes the stress away from the partner who was playing the role of caregiver.
“By coming here, both spouses physical and mental needs are met,” she continues. “Our staff can ensure the spouse in need has all of their care needs met while allowing the spouse to go back to just being the spouse, not the primary caregiver. It is a big stress relief to the spouse who is the caregiver when they can start participating in their life again.”
Why You Should be Proactive, Not Reactive
Finding appropriate care for a couple with differing needs is largely a balancing act, and it helps to start the search early, Redin says.
“When folks are ‘reactive’ in choosing an assisted living, such as after a fall or an illness, they are usually a bit more limited in what they can participate in, and it makes becoming established in the community a bit harder,” she says.
“On the other hand, being proactive in moving to assisted living ensures you have the ability to thrive in your community. In a healthy mind and physical space, you have the flexibility to engage in activities that give you sense of purpose and to create friendships with others who live there and share the same interests.”
The thought of living apart after 50 years or more of marriage would be heartbreaking for any couple. If your parents can no longer live on their own, an assisting living community can be an excellent fit for both.