5 Reasons Why Elderly Couples Should Consider Moving to a CCRC
When a couple ties the knot, they vow to stand by one another in sickness and in health. But what happens when one spouse later develops a chronic disease and needs more intensive support than can be provided at home?
Fortunately, there is a viable solution for elderly couples who find themselves in this situation. A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is a senior living community with multiple levels of care. CCRCs provide accommodations for independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, allowing each spouse to receive the support they need while still living together.
Keep reading to learn more about why you and your better half should consider transitioning to a CCRC like Havenwood Heritage Heights.
#1. CCRCs Accommodate Couples With Different Care Needs
Consider this scenario: Jane and her husband, Tom, moved to an independent living community three years ago. Since then, Jane has started to exhibit signs of dementia. She needs memory care but Tom is still in good health. What happens next?
When faced with this problem, most couples would be forced to live apart. But at a CCRC, Jane can receive the memory care she needs while Tom continues to live independently. Though the two won’t reside in the same apartment home, they will live on the same campus. Meaning, Tom can visit Jane in the memory care facility whenever he likes.
For many seniors, this is the primary advantage of a CCRC. Couples enter the community as independent residents but can easily transition to different levels of care as needed. One spouse may need short-term rehabilitation after surgery or both may need to later transition to assisted living. No matter how their health changes, both will be provided with appropriate care.
#2. CCRCs Provide a Variety of Layout Options
When couples say “I do” they assume they will share a bed forever. But as we age, we tend to sleep less soundly, often requiring noisy CPAP machines to manage chronic conditions. These nighttime troubles drive many couples to sleep in separate bedrooms.
Though sleeping separately isn’t a problem in a spacious bungalow, it can become an issue when a couple downsizes to a senior living community. Fortunately, CCRCs are very accommodating of elderly couples who require alone time.
At Havenwood Heritage Heights, for example, we offer a variety of floorplans. Couples can choose from one- and two-bedroom cottages, some with garages, basements and carports. This extra elbow room ensures that each spouse can get the most out of their retirement while still enjoying one another’s company.
#3. CCRCs Cater to Couples With Different Interests
What if you like water aerobics but your husband prefers birdwatching? At a CCRC, you can both enjoy your respective hobbies without compromise. Most CCRCs offer an activity calendar that appeals to residents with different interests. At Havenwood Heritage Heights, residents kayak, write poetry, craft and dance.
Before choosing a CCRC to call home, review the programs offered there. If you love hiking, be sure to ask about nearby trails during your tour. Or, if your husband loves theater, ask about performance groups and trips to local playhouses.
Programming may seem negligible relative to, say, the healthcare services provided by a CCRC, but engaging in activities you enjoy is key to remaining healthy. Hobbies prevent cognitive decline and keep the body moving. Maintaining your individual passions will also strengthen the relationship you have with your spouse.
#4. CCRCs Allow Couples to Remain Intimate
Talking about intimacy may be a faux pas, but it’s important nonetheless. Many elderly couples worry that transitioning to a CCRC will spell trouble for their sex lives, especially if one spouse will be receiving care in assisted living and the other in independent living.
However, most CCRCs have established guidelines that allow couples to remain intimate. Though this can be an embarrassing topic to bridge, talk privately with a community director while touring a CCRC. Inquire about what policies are in place and how these policies apply to couples receiving different levels of care.
At Havenwood Heritage Heights, we understand the health benefits of physical affection. Being able to hold hands with your loved one or snuggle while watching a movie can reduce stress hormones like cortisol and even lower blood pressure. That’s why we make every effort to ensure that couples can remain intimate.
#5. CCRCs Protect Spouses From Caregiver Burnout
Let’s return to our initial scenario with Jane and Tom but say that the couple never transitioned to a senior living community. Instead, they chose to age in place. Three years into their retirement, Jane begins to exhibit signs of dementia. She is wandering away at night and leaving the stove on. She also needs help with daily activities like dressing and bathing.
Tom wants to remain with his wife for as long as possible, so he assumes the role of caregiver. Unfortunately, however, this role can be physically and emotionally taxing, especially for an aging adult. Tom is at risk of developing caregiver burnout, a state of complete exhaustion that can contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes and even premature death.
Fortunately, CCRCs protect spouses from caregiver burnout. If Jane and Tom had transitioned to a CCRC, Jane would receive the memory care she needs while Tom could continue living independently. Though watching your spouse struggle with dementia isn’t easy in either situation, knowing that your loved one is receiving high-quality care provides immense peace of mind.
When Should Couples Begin Looking for a CCRC?
Sadly, many couples wait until one spouse’s health declines to make a decision about senior living. This makes it challenging to find a senior living option that caters to both spouses’ needs. As a result, elderly couples often have to live separately.
Instead, couples should begin exploring senior living when they are both still well. This is especially important for CCRCs since all individuals enter the community as independent living residents. Are you having trouble deciding when you should begin looking for a CCRC? If so, consider these common signs that now is better than later:
- You and your spouse are struggling to keep up with the responsibilities of owning a home
- You or your spouse need access to regular medical care
- You and your spouse are interested in a maintenance-free lifestyle
- You and your spouse feel isolated or lonely
- You worry that a medical condition may force you and your spouse to live separately
Receive the Appropriate Care You & Your Spouse Deserve
At Havenwood Heritage Heights, we understand how difficult it can be for some elderly couples to navigate their golden years. The husband may need assistance with activities of daily living while the wife is still in good health. Unfortunately, most independent living communities would require that the husband seek care elsewhere.
However, at a CCRC, you and your spouse can continue living on the same campus even if your needs change. As one of just three accredited CCRCs in New Hampshire, Havenwood Heritage Heights is committed to helping elderly couples cherish one another in both sickness and in health.