As life expectancies increase and people live longer in the United States, it is becoming more common for couples to age together longer. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau states that the percentage of those aged 60 and over who reported being married has increased over the past several decades, while the number reporting widowhood has decreased. With this increased number of aging married couples, many are finding they want to spend their golden years after retirement together. However, this presents a challenge when partners need different levels of care from each other and how families go about making this decision for the pair.
When the time comes and couples begin to consider living options, it is important to consider communities and facilities that meet the needs of both people, for now and in the future. What many couples can do first is conduct a needs assessment that will tell them if they have different levels of functionality, and therefore may require different levels of care from the assisted living community. Visiting a geriatrician or primary care doctor for a full assessment is a great way to learn what services each person requires.
If it is determined that there are different need levels between partners, there is still the option to keep you and your spouse or your parents together because many communities offer a variety of care levels in the same facility. The different levels of care that can be offered range from Assisted Living Services (independent housing and support services), Memory Care Support (often 24-hour care for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia), and Skilled Nursing (24-hour medical supervision and assistance offered, which is usually a temporary arrangement).
WSL offers assistance with daily activities as well as memory care throughout our entire community. Care looks different for everyone, for example, one couple could be living in Assisted Living with no care needs. In contrast, a different couple might need some additional care with one spouse on our All Points Program receiving memory support. What makes WSL stand out is the relief it gives couples who are aging with different needs. We support residents individually and that is what gives couples the opportunity to live successfully together.
Benefits of Staying Together in Assisted Living
For many couples, they would appreciate the ability to age together as long as possible. In fact, there are many benefits that encourage couples to stay together, even if one spouse starts to need a higher level of care. The first benefit is familiarity, as living with your significant other in assisted living brings about a great level of comfort as they transition into the next chapter of life together. Having your companion by your side allows you to stay close with someone who understands you best and increases the quality of life in couples.
Another great benefit is being able to increase or decrease the level of care needed as couples age even more. As residents at WSL, they are able to stay in their apartment even when their care needs increase – no need to move to a different wing or even to a nursing home. Just as they continue to be there for each other, the continuum of care changes.
Another benefit for couples is the ability to participate in activities side-by-side and have a life in the community together. They no longer have to worry about day-to-day hassles (like making meals for each other or bringing each other to appointments) and many aspects of life are taken care of. For example, WSL has specialists that come in to see residents based on the couple’s schedule. This can give a partner who has been caring for their spouse a chance to participate in outings or have some personal time, since they can count on their loved one being in good hands without them there. Stepping back from being a caregiver can be a huge relief and really add to a couple’s well-being.
Having both partners live in the same community also allows family members peace of mind about their safety, support, and well-being. Knowing they live and are cared for together creates a potential for less stress on the family since they are secure and comfortable in each other’s company.
Transitioning to Assisted Living
A great way to ease this transition into long-term care is to start the conversation early, especially before health care concerns make it an emergency situation. With people living and staying healthier longer, there’s an increased chance of couples growing old together. By thinking about their options and making a plan about what both partners want ahead of time, couples can make sure they end up in the best situation despite what scenarios may occur. Including all family members in this conversation can also make sure everyone is on the same page about the needs and wants of the couple.
Additionally, having a financial plan in place will help prepare for the senior living expenses and ensure they’re supported how they are needed without worrying about choosing a community strictly based on costs. Lastly, it is important to learn which communities provide a wide range of services for varying needs; this information ahead of time will help minimize stress long-term and make sure the couple is ready to adapt for any changes that may occur.
Deciding to move into a community with another person can be less of a challenge than you think. The way that senior communities, WSL especially, approach this big change is personalized to the couple. We make sure each individual resident is safe, cared for, and is living an enriched life. Couples thrive at WSL because we see them as a team, but also each with their own interests, experiences, and desires. If you or a loved one are interested in learning about WSL’s accommodations for couples, contact us to learn more!