Written by Joseph Newlan, LVN
Roommates are not only for college students or young people, seniors sometimes need roommates. Most assisted living facilities offer private and shared, or semi-private, accommodations. When considering moving into an assisted living facility, families should evaluate what is best for their loved ones. They will be asked by the facilities manager, if they prefer a private or shared room. Most seniors or their loved ones respond that they prefer a private room and only concede to being willing to share a space with another senior if their budget will not stretch to cover the cost of a private room. While we all enjoy our privacy, seniors and their family members should stop to consider some of the benefits of sharing a room with another senior.
My loved one will benefit from a roommate because:
Saving Money – The most obvious of the benefit of sharing a room is sharing the cost of accommodations. The cost savings, approximately 30-40% on average, add up significantly over many months. This is especially helpful if you anticipate other medical or care related expenses coming up in the future. It can also afford you the ability to live in a more desirable community than you would be able to afford paying for a private room.
Easy Transition– Having a roommate promotes more frequent socialization. At assisted living facilities, the onus is on the resident to socialize and build new relationships. Having a roommate can jump start the socialization process by providing the first person who you can get to know in a meaningful way. Your roommate would have already been integrated in the community setting, they can give you advice and you to better navigate within the community’s unique culture.
Fight Loneliness – Too much seclusion is not essentially a good thing. It is easy for loneliness to set for a senior who does not take advantage of the numerous activities offered by most assisted living facilities. While not encouraged by most communities, many seniors will stay in the rooms most of the day sleeping or watching television. As the months and years progress, this lack of socialization can sometimes contribute to loneliness and worse, depression. The daily presence of a roommate, or even a pet, can dramatically diminish the feeling of isolation and/or loneliness.
Additional Monitoring – If your senior parent or loved one is considering a move to an assisted living facility you might appreciate the additional monitoring that a roommate often provides. Because they see each other every day, roommates can be the first to notice changes that occur in the health or ability of a senior. Are they sleeping more? Do they seem more confused? Are they missing meals? Although, not an official role at assisted living facilities, roommates can let the staff, family and friends know if they have made any relevant observations regarding the well-being of their roommate. There is great value in noticing a pattern early that might otherwise go undetected for a longer period.
Longer Life Expectancy – A variety of social studies confirm that social relationships not only augment one’s quality of life, but, extend our life expectancy. Having a source of consistent companionship in the form of a roommate can increase mental and emotional stimulation and therefore contribute to overall health and longevity. More frequent conversation and stimulating thought can mean several additional years of life expectancy.
We are social creatures and even if you have the resources to afford a private space for your senior relative, sharing a room comes with several benefits. Assisted living facilities are great for many seniors who are still largely independent yet require, or anticipate requiring, assistance with one of more activities of daily living because of the additional benefits of socialization with their peers.
Excerpts from Starlight Homes Copyright 2115