When does someone become a senior citizen? Most of us think of our grandparents and other elderly relatives and friends as seniors. They have gray hair, their skin is more wrinkled, and they don’t do most of the things that you do. As the years go by, you grow older and the number of people older than you decreases. At what point do you look in the mirror and realize that you’ve become a senior citizen too?
What Makes a Senior a Senior?
Graying hair, wrinkled skin, declined energy, and problems getting around are some of the physical characteristics we associate with seniors. But they only occur after a person reaches a certain age. All people become elderly at about the same time, but they develop the signs of aging differently and at different times. Still, a senior is someone who has started the last phase of their life.
There is no single age that determines when a person becomes a senior citizen. The title occurs at different times according to who is making the determination. The government considers people seniors when they are old enough to retire and draw their social security benefits. Even that number changes, depending on the year you were born.
When you shop at local restaurants, department stores, or groceries, you might qualify for a “senior citizen discount.” Some might extend a discount to customers aged 55 and older. Others only give them to people aged 60 years and above.
Most of us have a mental idea of what we consider a senior. We’ve watched our parents and grandparents grow older and slow down. We base our interpretation of seniors on watching others around us go through the later stages of life.
As a result of our culture, we think of a senior citizen as someone who no longer works. Their own children are grown and leading adult lives. They no longer participate in the same number or type of activities they used to. They don’t walk as fast and they have impaired vision and hearing. Seeing an elderly person with a walker or cane is something we think of as normal. Seeing someone younger using the same supportive devices might make you wonder what happened to them. We’re conditioned to recognize who should act like a senior and who shouldn’t.
Even when seniors age normally, they often need more help from other people. Those with chronic pain and health conditions need more specialized care. As a result, they often turn to outside sources for aid.
“Perks” for Senior Citizens
You probably haven’t found a lot of advantages to getting older. One of the few perks seniors enjoy is the senior citizen discounts many businesses offer. Like so many things in life, they differ in method and approach. Some require you to “sign up” and may have one day per month when seniors receive a special discount. You might get discounts for almost everything you buy or services you receive. Sometimes businesses apply senior discounts less formally than others. The person making the sale might judge by appearance alone that you’re a senior and give you the discount. Others require you to meet the terms and show an ID.
Why do so many businesses offer senior citizens a discount? Many seniors are thrifty spenders. They live on a fixed income and have little money for extras. As middle class working adults, they might not have received a lot of extra income to put toward their retirement. These senior discounts help them get essentials and non-essentials they might not otherwise be able to afford. They allow them to go places and do things they enjoy and get more of what they need.
The Debate on Seniors Living at Home
You might have heard your parents or grandparents say they wanted to live out their lives at home. Sometimes adults worry that their loved ones will place them in a nursing home once they get older. If you have reached your senior years, you might have worried about the same thing.
Some people want to live at home because it’s where they raised their families. They enjoy cooking in the same kitchen that they’ve cooked in for years. More often, their home represents freedom and independence. They fear that living in a nursing home will take away their control over their own life.
Sometimes getting support from others allows seniors to stay in their homes longer. People who have the ability to live alone require only minimal outside support. They might prepare their meals, take care of paying bills, and drive where they need to go. Although their health might not be perfect, medication keeps their health conditions under control. They still go out with friends and might even work at their job. These seniors might have a relative who stays with them part-time or full-time. Others hire a professional caregiver or nurse to provide care when they need it.
It is important to distinguish between caregivers and nurses. Caregivers help with personal tasks like bathing, preparing meals, doing laundry, or providing medication reminders. A nurse provides medical care such as administering medications and monitoring the patient’s vitals. Depending on a senior’s abilities, either or both a caregiver and nurse might stay with them from several hours daily up to round-the-clock care.
Senior Citizen Communities
Not all seniors choose to stay at home alone. Some are unable to take care of themselves. Others don’t feel safe alone in their house. For many, moving to a senior community provides a better alternative. The growing number of seniors in this country has led to a greater diversity of communities designed to meet a range of needs. Many have areas of specialty that focus on people aged 55 and older.
One of the biggest advantages of moving to a senior community is the availability of specialized services. Residents receive the level of supportive services they need while keeping their independence. Golfing, luxury, and religion are popular specialized areas. But there are also those that focus on LGBTQ, military veteran, and others.
Senior communities provide senior citizens with the services they need to live happy, healthy lives. They might provide medical services and caregiver services on-site to those who need it.
Seniors who are no longer able to prepare healthy meals can have their food prepared for them. They always have access to healthy meals, which they need to support good health. Regular exercise classes and activities they enjoy will encourage them to stay active. They can participate in regular exercise to stay healthy in a safe and secure environment.
Options can be limited for seniors who go into a nursing home. These facilities provide a necessary service to seniors who can’t live at home alone. Seniors who are no longer able to enjoy an active lifestyle might find the type of care they need in a nursing home.
Retirement communities often include both an assisted living facility and a nursing home. They meet the needs of seniors at every ability level. If you can’t handle daily activities or take care of yourself independently, a retirement community provides caregiver services during the time you need them. If your needs change to include medical care, it’s available to you 24/7.
How Do Senior Citizens on a Fixed Income Afford Senior Living?
The majority of senior citizens who move to a senior community have already reached retirement age. A growing number of seniors are living longer and healthier, resulting in longer careers or more active lives after retirement. Those who haven’t prepared financially for retirement are more likely to keep working.
Some people begin saving for retirement as soon as they become working adults. They have a solid savings plan in place to ensure they live comfortably once they retire. If you took this approach to planning for your retirement, you’ll have more options for hiring support services in your home. You’ll also have the choice of moving into a luxury senior community that meets all of your needs.
Even if you are on a fixed income, living at a retirement community is an option. In many cases, the costs of retirement living are more affordable than the upkeep of your home combined with your living expenses and caregiver support. Your budget depends on the benefits you receive, your retirement savings, and your expenses. Talk with a retirement community about your needs and learn more about how to afford the cost of living in a retirement community.
All seniors who reach the required age of 65 can obtain Medicare health insurance. You have seven months to enroll, beginning three months before your 65th birthday.
Seniors also receive Social Security benefits. Although these benefits help a great deal with your expenses, they might not be enough. You must also pay for your Medicare coverage in addition to uncovered medical expenses. You must look at the cost of living in your home with paid care in comparison to other living options.
The Importance of Independence for Seniors
Maintaining their independence is important to seniors in several ways. They take pride in being able to do things for themselves. It gives them a sense of worth and a better feeling of well-being. Once you become a senior citizen, you’ll understand how important keeping control of your own life is to you.
Independence isn’t just about living in your own home and providing your own care. It’s about making decisions about where you live, what you do, and what you eat.
When to Consider Moving to a Retirement Home
Although people become senior citizens at about the same age, they don’t all have the same immediate needs. If you are still healthy and active, you might be considering a retirement community for the future. You still want to live at home but want to learn more “just in case” your situation changes. But there are still some good reasons for moving to a retirement community while you still have some of your best years ahead of you.
- A Sense of Community – Seniors often have families who live far away. You might have limited opportunities to participate in activities that you still enjoy in your neighborhood. A retirement community consists of many residents just like you. They enjoy walking their dogs, playing cards, or talking about the weather. It’s a great way to socialize and get support from others in the same stage of life as you.
- Security for Peace of Mind – Security is an important issue for senior citizens and their families. Living alone comes with risks both inside and outside the home. In a retirement community, you are never alone or unprotected. The grounds are secure, and help is available immediately after a fall or other medical emergency. You never have to worry about being left vulnerable in your home.
- A Care-Free Lifestyle – Seniors no longer have the burden of keeping their homes clean, washing their clothes, or cooking their meals. Seniors who are cooking for themselves often resort to eating unhealthy food rather than investing their time and energy into a balanced diet, especially if they aren’t cooking for others too. A retirement community takes care of the work for you so you can enjoy doing the things you enjoy.
- Exercising Your Mind – Dementia is an unfortunate reality for many seniors. Experts recommend exercising your mind to help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. There’s always something new to learn at the retirement community. Engaging in activities like gardening and golfing, arts and crafts, music, book clubs, and other activities helps to keep your mind strong.
- Getting the Healthcare You Need– The healthiest seniors need some degree of healthcare as part of a preventive wellness plan. Those who enter the retirement community with existing conditions want to know they’ll have access to the appropriate care. Having medical care available on-site makes it easier to get the care you need. When something changes or causes you concern, you can get it addressed without the hassle of finding a doctor and driving to an appointment. Seniors gain a lot of comfort from knowing that healthcare is readily available whenever they need it.
- Added Benefits You Didn’t Know You Wanted – Going into the retirement community, you might think that you will never make use of some of the amenities. Maybe you can’t imagine picking up tennis or learning to do water aerobics. Once you settle in, you’ll find that more and more of what is available to you becomes interesting.
Why Choose Park Terrace Living?
The perfect retirement living community offers you the chance to do the things you’ve always done, and the things you’ve always wanted to try. It’s a place to be the person you’ve always been, and it’s a chance to add something new to your list of interests or skills.
Park Terrace is the ideal destination for anyone who wants to live life to its fullest during their golden years. We offer a diversity of programs and activities to keep you entertained, fit, and healthy. There are also some impressive local attractions for seniors who like to venture out from time to time. Play a round of golf at the Cave Creek Golf Course. Catch a baseball game at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field. There’s always something to do that you’ll enjoy.
We offer a choice of independent living and assisted living services to meet your individual needs. Once your need for support or medical care changes, we’re here to help you make the transition. Whatever level of care you require, we make every day feel like a vacation. We’ve even streamlined everything into a single payment to make paying your costs easier.
If you’re a senior citizen, it’s a good time to start planning your golden years. Contact Park Terrace Senior Living to schedule a tour and coffee.