Assisted Living: The challenges of spouses separated by assisted living care.
With over one million individuals in assisted living communities in the United States, over time an assisted living community will see residents with instances of nearly every family dynamic you can imagine. In some instances, Melrose Gardens has been residence to individuals who have spouses who live alone at home, or with other family members. There are a variety of scenarios in which this kind of living arrangement makes sense for everyone. For older couples, one spouse may require assistance while the other spouse doesn’t, but for issues of practicality, safety, and quality of life, the other spouse is unable to provide adequate care. In these cases, the spouse needing assistance may choose to live in an assisted living community while the other spouse continues living alone at home, or perhaps with other family. This arrangement may be in the best interest of both spouse’s long term well being, but it’s helpful for everyone involved to be considerate of the emotional challenges created by this living arrangement.
Long established relationships.
From the earliest of times each one of us depend on a selected set of established relationships in order to achieve a sense of caring and security. These relationships are made from early childhood throughout a person’s life span. A vast amount of studies have been conducted on the effects of relationships and the nature of such relationships on the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals, especially on elderly population and how they are impacted.
Over time, an elder has gone through a large number of relationships, be it friends, acquaintances or family. One of the most important relationships an individual can have is the relationship with his or her spouse. According to a large number of studies, it has been demonstrated that social engagement can benefit the elderly population to a great extent. One study that was conducted between 838 individuals to observe their social life engagement, associated members in their social circles and how they felt towards those in their social circles. A linear regression model was created to analyze the data collected. According to the results of this study, the elders who showed positive relationships and were content with their social circles showed improved cognitive function when compared with those who were not happy with the relationships and social circles that they were in. Another study conducted by the University of Michigan HRS showed substantial relationships between the mental state and social circles of an elder. This study was carried out among 26000 Americans who were more than 50 years in age.
According to early studies conducted by Cummings and Henry on age differences and social circles, it was found that the elderly population had smaller social circles. The reason for this condition is quite obvious. During the latter part of one’s life, it is inevitable to lose the people that a person loves. This can be due to various reasons such as friends becoming deceased, abandonment by children and becoming widowed. Since these social circles become increasingly smaller, elders face great risks on emotional health as they have to deal with losing people they care about. One of the most important relationships an individual can have is among his/her spouse. When a spouse is moved to a social care facility, both the husband and wife will feel a huge loss and loneliness. The intimate relationship that is shares is brought to an abrupt halt when this occurs and the emotional state this brings can be very damaging.
Therefore it is important to allow them to see each other often and share their time together. This fact has been recognized in the world and most health care and assisted living institutes facilitate loved ones to come and visit the people that they care about regardless of visiting hours. Enabling elders to freely interact with the people they love will ensure that they have the best state of mind and that both assisted living elders and their loved ones get the time to be with each other.
Learn More About Our Assisted Living Program and Tour Our Community
If you’re the spouse of an individual who may benefit from long term care in an assisted living community, or you’re the family of an older couple and you think it might be in the best long term interest of everyone involved for a certain individual to consider assisted living, please contact our community for more information about our assisted living program in Los Angeles, or schedule a tour.
Reinhard SC, Given B, Petlick NH, et al. Supporting Family Caregivers in Providing Care. In: Hughes RG, editor. Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2008 Apr. Chapter 14. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2665/
Krueger, K. R., Wilson, R. S., Kamenetsky, J. M., Barnes, L. L., Bienias, J. L., & Bennett, D. A. (2009). SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION IN OLD AGE. Experimental Aging Research, 35(1), 45–60. http://doi.org/10.1080/03610730802545028
Lee, S. H., & Kim, Y. B. (2016). Which type of social activities may reduce cognitive decline in the elderly?: a longitudinal population-based study. BMC Geriatrics, 16, 165. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-016-0343-x