Old-Age Homes & Senior Living Homes are poles apart
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the lives of countless members of the general population. During the pandemic, elderly people who are above 55 years have been facing a lot of issues such as isolation, loneliness, inactivity, safety and security issues, troubles in getting the household activities done, and the fear of getting infected from coronavirus. This situation has pushed the necessity for looking out for a community that could help them in solving all their everyday issues. Even their family and dear ones who are staying apart are also concerned.
In such a scenario, this senior community would like to move into a community that could support them in leading an active lifestyle, living a safe and secure life, having a similar age group around to socialize, leading a hassle-free life with the household chores being taken care by maintenance staff, while having age-friendly amenities around.
The number of senior citizens in India is growing fast with increasing life expectancy and improved medical facilities. Studies calculate that people over 60 years will constitute nearly 20% of the country’s population by 2050.
We can expect many changes in the coming years considering the scenario that senior citizens are physically and mentally fit than ever before. Them being indispensable assets to an organisation till much later, this may even include increasing the official retirement age. Senior citizens who are 55 plus are taking retirement at a positive pace where their body may have aged but the mind is still lively and ready to go on new adventures and take on new challenges. With improved mobility and higher quality of life, senior citizens today are looking for the perfect retirement homes to spend the golden years of their life.
Many changes in lifestyle that have happened over the years are now reasons for seniors to choose retirement homes over their own homes. In the traditional model of care for senior citizens, it was the joint family structure along with the support of helpers that the elderly used to be cared for. However, with the breakdown of joint family structure and corporate jobs for most couples that too in distant places, the elderly in a nuclear family has only the support of the helpers or medically trained attendants. And these include the facts like architecture and facilities are age-friendly at senior homes, and they also provide companionship and independence. Retirement plans are nowadays inclusive of pension, savings, and future living situations where elders are happily choosing senior living homes where they can reclaim their independence and pursue passions and hobbies. However, there is still plenty of misconceptions, stigma, and myths about the senior living concept in the country.
Breaking the Myth around Senior Living Homes and Old Age Homes
What do you think is the only common factor in these two – it’s just that elders live in these homes. The terms senior living and old-age homes are often used interchangeably out of ignorance, and this has led to misleading information about the retirement living concept for seniors in India.
Our idea about Old Age Homes
The conventional old-age homes are often seen as places of loneliness and gloom. Spending one’s retirement years in these establishments doesn’t sound interesting as we are clearly aware of its limitations and bare minimum facilities provided. Most of the taboos and fears around retirement living options origins from old-age homes.
Fortunately, major changes are coming and for that, we are thankful for the arrival of the exceptional concept of senior living homes.
Do we have a clear picture about Senior Living Homes?
Senior living is simply about living in a community. Senior living refers to housing for people above the age of 55, who are still independent and lead an active life. These establishments offer convenient services, senior-friendly design features, and access to social activities. Many of these also offer medical support and holistic healthcare. Senior living is also further diversified into independent living and assisted living. Independent living refers to housing and communities for active seniors who are healthy and independent, while assisted living is for seniors who require varying levels of medical support, such as caregivers and nursing. Independence is a major highlight promoted by Senior living homes. Their daily routines and lifestyle are self-decided, not by anyone else. Unlike old age homes, there is no compulsive routine or restriction forced on them.
Also, known as retirement villages, these communities have independent living units as well as various other facilities like landscaped grounds, community halls, recreational, wellness centres, medical facilities, and more. Such residential hubs are fast emerging as the leading option for senior citizens. We have many eminent builders and health care enthusiasts who are sincerely working towards achieving the dream of senior retirement homes a reality.
Continuous Care Retirement communities are senior living communities that provide extra medical care and assistance to seniors as they grow older. As you age, you may require additional in-HomeServices like – physiotherapy, bathing, medicated dressing, feeding, grooming and more.
Senior Living homes are also a platform to help seniors reinvent their innate talents, hobbies, and passions. In these communities, seniors get a chance to engage in learning and improving on various skills. With various social, mental, and physical activities, seniors live a fulfilling and stimulating lifestyle, leading to improvement in their health and wellness.
Let us have a detailed look into the key features of both Old Age Homes and Senior Living Homes
Retirement communities are made up of independent living units designed for seniors. They will provide all the facilities that you can find in a regular residential apartment complex, with special features to aid seniors.
All apartments are self-contained home units with master bedrooms, guest bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, balconies, kitchens, and dining rooms. You are in full control of your apartment, and you have the space to live independently, while the opportunities to mingle and engage with other seniors living in similar residential apartments in the community.
However, since senior living communities are designed for seniors, most apartments contain several accessibility features like gentle slopes, anti-skid floors, chamfered wall edges, easy-reach light switches, night switches in the bedrooms, grab rails in the bathrooms, emergency response system, and more.
At the same time, we are aware that old-age homes offer the bare minimum facilities. Seniors can expect it to be like an institution where they can spend their sunset years, free from household chores and tasks. But, beyond that, old-age homes lack major facilities. You will be provided rooms for sleeping, mostly dormitories or shared with a couple of other seniors, a common dining hall, a lounge to receive visitors, and common bathrooms.
Retirement homes are designed from the beginning to cater to the comfort and convenience of seniors, and this reflects in the infrastructure. Open grounds with manicured lawns, ample recreational facilities like gyms, indoor and outdoor games, common community halls, restaurant-style cafeterias are some of the common infrastructures you can see at paid senior citizen living homes in a retirement village.
Old-age homes provide only the barebones infrastructure for seniors. Individual space is minimal, and most seniors are provided with a bed, a cupboard to hold their clothing and belongings, where they won’t be given individual rooms or bathrooms.
3. Health Care
A major highlight of senior living communities is that they have trained medical staff who live on the campus and can provide first-aid and immediate medical attention in case of emergencies. Moreover, all retirement villages have tie-ups with leading hospitals, where residents can go in for regular medical check-ups and treatments. For the check-ups, you also have the freedom to drive yourself to places or can request a drop-off by the staff.
Most senior living providers also facilitate extra medical care and assistance when needed. Additional in-home services like – physiotherapy, bathing, medicated dressing, feeding, grooming is also provided to seniors who have restricted mobility and require extra care.
Old-age homes may have trained medical staff at the premises. Most old-age homes provide their inmates with treatments at a nearby hospital, in case of illness or emergencies.
4. Food and Nutrition
In a retirement home, you can enjoy restaurant-style meals that are fresh, delicious, and customised to your special dietary requirements. With a break from cooking, you no longer must bother with grocery shopping, meal planning, and spending hours in the kitchen.
In old-age homes, food is served in a mess-style cafeteria. You can choose between veg or non-veg food depending on your dietary preferences. And mostly, the resident has no say regarding the choice of menu.
5. Welcoming Family and Friends
You are the owner of your apartment in a retirement village, and you can continue receiving and hosting your children, grandchildren, extended family, and friends as always– as you do in your regular home.
But old-age homes have fixed visiting hours and inmates can receive their friends and family only during these hours. And your children and grandchildren won’t be allowed to stay with you.
6. Recreation and Entertainment
Senior living communities provide you with all the wonderful opportunities to make your inner self happy like never. You will have a wide range of activities available on campus to help you make the best of your golden years.
Yoga, swimming, gym and fitness centres, indoor game halls, and meditation areas – senior living communities provide you with a wide range of recreational activities and hobbies to spend your time engagingly.
The best part – you become a part of a like-minded community of friends and neighbours, who become family. The emotional support system provided by senior communities helps you enjoy a long, healthy, and happy life, even post-retirement.
Most old-age homes don’t have much recreation and entertainment to keep inmates occupied, apart from common TV viewing halls.
7. Safety and Security
Safety and security are good for Both old-age homes and senior living communities. They have security staff on campus, monitoring the premises and providing immediate help to seniors in case of emergencies. Senior living homes are monitored by trained staff, and you can find CCTV cameras at all vantage points with round-the-clock surveillance.
Most senior living communities offer an emergency response system in each apartment. On-call doctors, ambulances on alert, and 24 x 7 emergency care, you no longer must worry about your safety and health care in a senior living community.
8. Lifestyle and Emotional Support System
The biggest challenges seniors face after 55 are dull social life with no peers nearby, and loneliness, which gradually affects their emotional well-being. In a retirement village, you have several peers in your age group living in the complex. And, thanks to the wide array of engaging activities and entertainment options, you can build your social network and make like-minded friends. Retirement villages are vibrant communities, where you get to enjoy your second season in the best of company and emotional support.
Though old-age homes have several seniors living nearby, they feel like they are living in a very restricted institution. They don’t have the space or facilities to engage in an active and vibrant social life.
Make the best decision for yourself
With premium amenities, meticulous infrastructure, trained staff who take care of the medical and other needs of senior citizens – senior living communities today in India are in balance with what’s offered around the world. When you’ve worked hard all your life, you absolutely deserve those remarkable post-retirement years. A memorable season two will be like a true reward for all the sacrifices and hardships you’ve endured through those hectic working years.
Choosing the right place for your post-retirement years is certainly a big decision. But instead of postponing and panicking, try to visit all the available options, get reviews and opinions which will help you make a decision. Some of the retirement homes even provide trial stays – have small staycations at your shortlisted places and help yourself to the right decision.
May you be able to find your favourite home where you can set yourself free to enjoy the best possible year in your second season of life.