Canadians are living much longer lives than ever before, and they’re staying active and healthy for many years longer too. There will come a time, though, that many Canadians will need to seek assisted living because they are no longer able to care for themselves.
Many Canadians, and their families, worry that once their family member goes into assisted living their quality of life and lifespan will decline quickly.
Many times families will come to visit their loved one, but what happens while you aren’t around? What is your loves one’s quality of life like every day? Here’s what you need to know about life expectancy in assisted living as you begin to age.
Factors Affecting Life Expectancy
In order to understand why life expectancy may change when someone enters assisted living, it’s important to understand the factors that can have a positive or negative effect on life expectancy to begin with.
Poor Overall Health
As people age, their access to good nutrition and health care can decrease. This happens for a number of reasons: people can’t get access to medications, they may not be able to afford the necessary medications or they potentially can’t get to the grocery store all the time to get nutritious foods.
These issues can be made much more complicated if the elderly person has cancer, depression, diabetes or other mental health issues. These factors can be better managed with the help of assisted living staff and family members who visit them.
The priority for these people is to give seniors the best quality of life possible and make sure all of their needs are met.
Many seniors grew up smoking and it’s a habit that can be difficult to quit. Smoking is very unhealthy for anyone, and years of it can lead to medical conditions that are hard to manage.
When in assisted living, seniors are able to get the treatment needed for these medical conditions and staff can watch them closely to make sure they stay as healthy as possible.
Some assisted living facilities will not allow for residents to smoke at all – even outside – so when choosing one you may want to ask about their policies, if this is important for your loved one.
This may not have been an issue for previous generations, but many Canadians are living with obesity. Being obese can mean an early onset of a variety of other health conditions.
While severe obesity can mean that some people have a decreased life expectancy, it is still an issue among the elderly as their mobility decreases and they are less active due to their own restrictions.
While being in assisted living, there are programs residents can participate in to keep them active to help keep them healthy.
Additionally, obesity can increase the occurrence of diabetes and high blood pressure. These are common health risks for the elderly and they need to be well looked after to keep people as healthy as possible. Assisted living ensures seniors with these conditions are well looked after.
Living alone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can put seniors at risk for injuring themselves or forgetting to take important medications.
Family members can’t always be present to take care of their loved ones, so assisted living can help make sure their family member is properly cared for.
There are assisted living facilities that specialize in providing care for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and they know specifically what patients living with these illnesses need.
There are many factors that can affect the health and well being of the elderly, especially when they are away from their family and don’t have much social support.
Benefits of Assisted Living
When you first talk to your loved one about moving out of their home and into assisted living, they might feel as though you’re deserting them or don’t want to be around them anymore. There are a number of benefits to knowing your loved one is in assisted living.
Better Living Conditions
While many seniors have saved their entire working lives to prepare for their senior years, living is becoming so expensive they may not be able to afford the same standard of living they had when they were working.
This can mean they are living in low-income housing, or they are not meeting other needs to ensure they can keep a roof over their head. Being in assisted living, means your loved one is staying in a clean place where it’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Give yourself peace of mind knowing that your loved one isn’t suffering and they are comfortable in their living conditions.
Daily Activities and Social Support
When seniors are living on their own, they can often feel isolated from their friends and family especially if they have accessibility or mobility issues.
When in assisted living, there will be organized daily activities of all kinds so your family member is sure to find something they enjoy doing. Additionally, they’re surrounded by many other people who in the same stage of life of them and likely enjoy many of the same hobbies and activities.
Assisted living centres organize special festivities for holidays and other special days – they often even get over excited about it to give the residents the feeling of being at home, surrounded by loved ones.
Access to Medication
If your loved one has a medical condition and you’re worried that they may not be taking the appropriate medication at the right time, this is one of the biggest benefits to being in assisted living.
The staff at the centre will make sure your family member gets the medication needed to help their medication condition, and that they take the right amount at the right time.
Additionally, there are on staff doctors who will check on your loved one and make sure they’re as healthy as possible. We know that as you age, health concerns can become urgent very quickly so having easy access to a doctor ensures they are well looked after when you can’t be there to get them to a doctor.
What is the life expectancy of being in assisted living?
Knowing that there are many benefits to being in assisted living as your loved one ages, you likely want to know exactly how much better their life will be and how much longer you will have them around for.
Ultimately, this depends on a variety of things that are unique to your loved one. You can definitely increase their life expectancy and their quality of life by doing a couple different things.
It was already mentioned that being in assisted living means your family member will be surrounded by many people they share interests and hobbies with. That isn’t enough, though, for everyone.
Even though being in assisted living means they are not directly with their family, many seniors greatly benefit when their family members come to visit them frequently.
One of the biggest fears of seniors being put into assisted living is that their family is just handing them off to someone else and will forget about them. Now that doesn’t mean you have to be there every single day but frequent visits are shown to boost the mood of your loved one, and can greatly increase their life expectancy.
Suitable Social Activities
While most assisted living facilities do offer a variety of activities, some of them have ones better suited to others depending on what your loved one enjoys doing.
If there are activities happening that your loved one gets excited about and looks forever to doing then they are likely to feel better about being there and not like they’re being abandoned.
You want to make sure your loved one is healthy and well cared for as much as possible. That can sometimes mean that they cannot live on their own anymore because they just need help to take care of themselves.
Having this conversation with your family member can be difficult: they want to stay in their home for as long as possible because they want to feel independent and don’t want to feel like they’re relying on anyone.
You may want to take your family member to look at the options they have, and let them choose where they want to live. If they feel like they can still have some control over their life they will be more open to moving into an assisted living facility, which will then increase their quality of life and life expectancy.
There used to be a stigma around seniors living in a home, thinking that their families just forgot about them and left them there alone.
Senior care in Canada has come a long way and many homes have a very high standard of living for residents. Your loved one will enjoy social activities with friends and you can visit them to make sure they are well cared for.
To make sure your senior family member gets the best out of their life, and is well cared for, consider assisted living for them!