For aging adults, the move to an assisted living facility is a major life change, but even more so for a couple who has lived together for many years. It is comforting for families to know that while the selection process is still challenging in this situation, there are a growing number of facilities offering accommodations for couples.
For a couple whose health needs are very different (i.e., one is in excellent health and the other is experiencing cognitive decline), you as the caregiver may be able to find a facility well able to accommodate the needs of both individuals. However, because their needs are vastly different, some facilities may house one in a particular area suitable for them, and then do the same for the spouse. In situations like this, while the couple does not live in the same room, they are still able to visit with one another often and share meals and other activities. This is often quite beneficial for the spouse in better health, because while their spouse’s health needs are too great for them to handle, they can still live and socialize under the same roof.
When both spouses are experiencing similar levels of health challenges, arranging for common living space is much easier. For these couples, privacy may become a major hurdle and developing social relationships with others in the assisted living facility can become more difficult (as it becomes much easier to simply keep to themselves). The rule of thumb, though, for the caregiver and assisted living staff, is to focus your selection options on the spouse whose health needs are greater (or the spouse who is older). Discuss this with your loved one’s healthcare professionals before coming to a final decision.
Living together in an assisted living facility can come with tremendous cost benefits as well. Generally speaking, in situations where one spouse is very healthy and the other requires higher level care, the spouse with good health simply pays for room and boarding expenses, while an additional fee is assessed for the care of the other spouse. In short, they are paying for only one room. Many assisted living facilities offer a pricing tier, with the lowest care needs at the bottom of the tier, while others provide services using a la carte, fee-for-service or all-inclusive pricing packages.
The truth is, cohabitation with a loving spouse or partner translates into increased happiness and overall better health generally. These benefits would most certainly apply if the couple moves together into an assisted living facility. It may, in fact, strengthen the bond each has with the other, because in this type of environment, each individual’s needs are met in a friendly, healthy manner. Therefore, this gives the couple the freedom to reconnect with one another in a manner often lost over the years in the midst of health problems and other concerns.
By consulting the staff, touring the facility and discussing your loved one’s health needs, you as a caregiver will certainly be capable of supporting your loved ones’ housing choices…together.