JCS thanks North Oaks for providing the information below for members of our community looking for senior living options for themselves or their loved ones.
By Sue Chrissley, Executive Director, North Oaks
Choosing a senior living community is a big decision. The more informed you are, the more satisfied you’ll be with your decision. For those learning about senior community living for the first time, there can be confusion and a lot of “hearsay” out there. We want to allay your fears and set the record straight about what senior living communities are – and are not. Here are some common myths: busted.
Myth #1: Senior living is going to be depressing
The number one fear that experts say adults have when thinking about senior living is that it will be depressing. Some have memories of their grandparents being in dark, disinfectant-smelling nursing homes. Others remember cramped, small rooms in overcrowded apartment towers.
Not so today! Many senior living options include single-residence homes, condos and apartments with modern stylings and amenities and plenty of space. You can furnish your home with your own personal items and furniture, and spend your time as you wish. Many even allow you to bring your own pet.
As for the “campus” itself, modern independent living communities can resemble a tightly knit small town or high-end resort spa and are often situated within view of mountains, forested areas, oceans, and other nature settings. Communities often include large central gathering places and bright inviting rooms for socializing with family and guests.
Myth #2: Moving to senior living means losing independence
Not true at all. Research actually suggests that older adults who live in senior living communities are happier and healthier than those who don’t. There are a variety of senior living community types out there offering a range of lifestyles and living accommodations.
Today’s senior living communities are bountiful with social gatherings and activities both on-and off-campus that address a wide range of senior interests and abilities. There are opportunities to choose from a variety of on-site fitness, arts and crafts, outdoor activities, social gatherings, and outings to nearby locales.
Myth #3: Moving to a retirement community is expensive
While the majority of homeowners have likely paid off their mortgages by the time they consider a senior living community or need long-term care, there are many other costs and concerns associated with homeownership, such as home and yard maintenance, utilities, insurance and taxes. There are also transportation and health care needs to consider as you age.
Within an independent living or assisted living community, you can enjoy your own, private space in either a single-residence, such as a house or condo, or apartment-style living. The benefit to both independent living and assisted living is that you can choose to relieve yourself of the burden and costs of home maintenance, meals, entertainment, therapies, and medical care when needed.
If you are in independent living and want to keep your own car, you can. Or if you prefer to use the community’s public transportation offerings and free yourself of the costs and upkeep of a car, you can choose to do so. In fact, seniors in independent living and assisted living communities find they have more time to socialize and enjoy themselves while home maintenance, housekeeping, and meals are all handled by staff.
Myth #4: The food in retirement homes isn’t as good as at home
This one is so very far from the truth! Senior living communities work hard to provide meals that are delicious and meet the unique nutritional needs of seniors. Most offer several different types of dining venues, from formal, to casual sit-down, to cafe′, and even take-out options.
At North Oaks, for example, meals are planned and prepared by an executive chef and team with options that rotate weekly and seasonally. The goal is to help you live a longer, healthier life while providing places to socialize and enjoy your meals. There may be flexible dining times and menu selections and customized food plans for those who request it.
Myth #5: I won’t see my family and friends anymore
Within today’s independent living spaces residents can host friends and family for dinner as well as have house guests overnight. Whether you cook for yourself or eat in onsite restaurants, hosting family for meals is easy. If you usually eat in community dining rooms, most offer a guest meal payment option.
Social gatherings with family and friends are also encouraged. Residents typically have access to common areas and meeting/gathering rooms of varying sizes for occasions. Like hosting Christmas dinner for 20 to throwing a milestone birthday or anniversary party!
Lastly, residents of senior communities are always encouraged to invite their loved ones to join them in arts activities, social outings and more. You are encouraged to keep living as independently as possible while enjoying the same social events and hobbies as you do now.
Look for a community that has experienced staff who are dedicated to helping seniors live a vibrant, engaged life. From fitness classes, nutrition assistance, and community activities to scheduled group outings, personal transportation, and more, seniors can age in place with caring, professional staff, numerous amenities and activities, and assistance every step of the way.
North Oaks is a full-service senior retirement community that has been the home of active, independent seniors in the Pikesville/Owings Mills area for over 25 years. Visit https://northoakslcs.com or call 410.921.2742 for more information.
Sue Chrissley is Executive Director of North Oaks.