When is the optimal stage of aging to move into a senior residence?

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There are some physical concerns but no imminent need for special care. The family home has been sold and the senior is now comfortably in an independent apartment. The senior has a serious hearing impairment.

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Since the house has been sold and the apartment moved into, your question reflects future moves. Things to consider, how much help are you now providing and what is your loved one's ability to fend for him/herself? What type of socialization is the person able to have in the new residence? What are the needs? There are some types of senior housing that offer transportation services, should that be an issue. Others, have on-site medical help, home health aides as needed, meals, etc. Keep your eyes open for changes. In the meantime, you can research places in your area that might be suitable. As Jeanne says, it may never be time!
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Maybe never.

Is this senior functioning well independently? Is the hearing impairment as bad as it is going to get? Is he or she coping with it well?

Lots and lots of things could happen next. There could be sudden death from a heart attack. There could be a terminal illness like cancer. The senior could develop dementia. There could some increased impariments that require assistance with cooking, bathing, other activities of daily living -- and the assistance could be provided in the current apartment or in ALF.

When/if to move into "senior" housing, and what kind, is a case-by-case decision. It is not inevitable, and there is no hard-and-fast guideline. I think it is "optimal" to make a move as soon as it is clear that it is the best choice. That may be as soon as impairments increase or it may be never.
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