To match the rapidly growing senior population there are a large number of assisted living communities to accommodate elderly loved ones. While this is great for many reasons, one effect of having so many different communities to choose from means that picking the right place can be difficult. How do you pick the right community for your loved one?
If you think that you want to look at assisted living communities, which provide more independence for seniors than nursing homes but have more care than senior living communities, then there are a few things that you should consider before making a final decision.
The first thing to start thinking about is where you want to look. While some new retirees might want to live someplace warm with other people their age, many older seniors either want live near their family so they can still see them regularly or in an area that is familiar to them.
Also consider what the assisted living community is near. If your loved one is still mobile and enjoys walks, are they near parks or nice sidewalks where they can go out independently or with family and friends? If they like going shopping, is there a center nearby that they can arrange trips to? Thinking about these questions will help you narrow down where to begin looking in your search.
It can be easy to forget about the details of a community while looking at location and costs, but remember that this is going to be home for your loved one, and if they don’t like the interior design, layout, or amenities then they won’t be happy living there.
Take into account what your senior family member wants from their community experience, and go over what benefits there are in the communities that you are deciding between. Some things to think about:
- Are the grounds nice?
- Is there outdoor entertainment such as putting greens or walking paths?
- Does the interior agree with your loved one's style and tastes?
- Are there in-house amenities like pools or cafes?
- Are pets allowed?
- Is there noise from nearby traffic?
- Do apartments come furnished or can someone bring their own furniture?
- How much privacy is there in shared suites?Are the rooms too big or too small?
All these questions and more will put you in the right frame of mind to start critically thinking about the little details. The most important thing to continually ask yourself is whether or not our loved one will enjoy living there.
Levels of Care
Most assisted living communities offer mobility care for seniors who have trouble getting around and some memory care to help keep track of medications and food. But many offer more beyond that, and have adjusted to provide a continuum of care for growing senior populations.
Some assisted living communities can offer more skilled nursing care for seniors who need a constant level of specialized care from healthcare professionals. While this is a service traditionally provided by nursing homes, assisted living communities often will work with residents to provide the care that they need.
Some communities will provide even more types of care, such as hospice or other end-of-life care services. Each community is different, so research what care services are offered at the specific communities you are deciding between.
A major factor in picking the right community is the cost. While ideally each of our loved ones would be in the most lavish resort-style community, realistically that can’t happen. We can sometimes blind ourselves to what our loved ones can afford by thinking only of what we want them to have, and not what it will cost them.
While there are many ways to pay for assisted living, there is a strong possibility that the majority of it will come out of savings. If you are handling or assisting in your loved one’s finances, then you need to ensure that there is enough saved so that they can afford monthly rent for many years, along with planning for other expenses like medical bills later on down the road.
The best solution to ensure that your loved one is happily living in an affordable community is finding the right balance between needs, wants, and a reasonable cost.
Finally, consider the makeup of the community itself. What are the people like? Is there a high level of community engagement? Does the community plan plenty of activities for seniors, or are they left to their own devices? Are the community members enjoying active and fun lifestyles? Are they friendly and welcoming?
Touring and visiting different assisted living communities can help you find the answers to these questions as you see in person each community and what lifestyles they promote for their seniors.
Every assisted living community is different, and finding the right place for your loved one is likely going to involve a lot of research and visits. But knowing that your family member is going to be happy in the community you find together is well worth the effort.