Assisted Living

11/6/2023 | By Terri L. Jones

Aging couples often fear separation if one of them needs assistance and care sooner than the other. Since people age at different rates, this is a valid concern. If your partner’s needs reach the point when you can no longer manage them on your own, but you want to remain under the same roof, moving to a community that can meet both people’s needs may be the ideal solution. Assisted living for couples comes to the rescue.

A look at assisted living for couples

Designed for seniors who need help with daily tasks like grooming, bathing, and medication management, assisted living offers you and your spouse apartment-style living with the added benefit of meals, social activities, transportation, etc. A variety of floorplans are available, including private rooms and two-bedroom, two-bath apartments, and may include a kitchenette or even a full kitchen for those who still want to cook. Some units come unfurnished, and you can make the space feel like home with your own furniture. Others are fully furnished, avoiding the hassle of moving furniture. In either case, you’ll be able to add your own personal touches.

More information on assisted living communities, from Seniors Guide

Weighing the costs

To keep costs down, you may be considering moving only your spouse to an assisted living community because personally you don’t need any help yet. However, notes Mary Sue Patchett, an executive vice president of Brookdale Senior Living, it may be cheaper for both to make the move. “Both [partners] living in the facility might be a reasonable expense versus one [remaining] at home.” By moving together, not only do you save the cost of your mortgage or rent (if you have one) as well as home maintenance, property taxes, and utilities, but you’ll probably also pay a much lower rate than your partner for your new residence. Typically, an independent partner would pay only a second-occupant or “sharing fee” per month (plus add-ons like housekeeping or transportation). And you both don’t pay for the services provided in assisted living; only the spouse who needs services pays for them.

Note, though, that if you each have your own separate room or apartment, you will likely pay the full price for both units.

Sharing each other’s lives but not space

A couple at home, one in wheelchair. By Nd3000. If one partner reaches the point of needing greater care but both want to remain together, assisted living for couples provides a solution.

When one person needs a higher level of care, such as memory care or skilled nursing, living in separate spaces may be a necessity. If you anticipate this possibility and want to remain in close proximity to one another, make sure that the assisted living community you choose offers these higher levels of care

Also, confirm that you’ll be able to spend lots of time with your significant other, enjoying meals and activities as well as private time. When the community supports residents’ relationships, your relationship can remain strong, despite the separate living arrangement.

The earlier, the better

Don’t wait until you or your spouse needs assisted living to start shopping communities. Waiting until the need is urgent can result in a hasty choice, which may leave one of you (typically the more able partner) dissatisfied. Conversely, beginning your search while you are both still healthy allows each of you to weigh in on the decision.

In fact, many couples who move to assisted living wish they’d made the move sooner, says Patchett. Of course, lightening the burden on the caregiver is the primary reason, but couples also find the activity and social interaction of this new living arrangement extremely beneficial. Not only do couples have each other, but they also have built-in companions and new friends with whom to enjoy meals, participate in activities, and share observations and experiences.

If you anticipate the need for help down the road, start checking out assisted living communities in your area now. Tour the apartments and common areas with your partner, meet the staff and residents, and experience the overall atmosphere of the place. And as you see the time growing nearer, get on waiting lists.

While taking this step may feel like rushing things, procrastinating won’t delay anything. Having all your ducks in a row will take some of the stress off the two of you and allow you to enjoy life to the fullest.

The Seniors Guide Care Assessment can help you determine what level of care is right for you or a loved one.

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over 10 years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones