Today, it’s not uncommon for many senior couples to be celebrating 50 years of marriage- sometimes even more year than that! According to recent census data, about 6% of couples living in the United States have been married for more than 50 years. At 65 years old, these couples can expect to live an average of another 19.3 years, so it’s important for them to consider each other’s health needs, now and in the future.
When individual needs begin to changes, the healthier spouse often becomes the primary caregiver to the less healthy spouse. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 80% of home health care is provided by an unpaid caregiver, who will spend an average of 20 hours each week on caregiving duties.
As the baby boomer generation ages, older married couples are starting to realize the benefits of downsizing their current homes and looking into other senior housing options. Many senior living communities offer a continuum of care, which gives seniors and their loved ones the peace of mind that as their needs change, the services and level of care provided at these communities changes along with them.
Couples can start by looking at independent living options, like garden homes or independent living apartments. These types of communities allow seniors to come and go as they please, but also provide maintenance-free living and additional services and amenities, like scheduled transportation and social events. If one spouse’s health begins to decline, the healthier spouse can choose to remain living independently, while the other may be placed in assisted living, a memory care neighborhood or a skilled nursing facility. This relieves the healthier spouse of any caregiving duties, but keeps him or her close to the other, spending time together on a daily basis.
It’s important for couples to have a conversation about the future while they are both still active and independent. Knowing your options and having a plan will allow you to enjoy your retirement to the fullest extent, plus ease the worry your loved ones may have about your future needs. Start researching communities in your area, taking time to consider all the senior housing options available and how they match your lifestyle.