How to Research Your Senior Living Options

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When considering joining a senior living community, there’s a lot to learn before making a decision. Even with friends already living in a senior community, it’s important to recognize that everyone’s needs are different, and understanding those needs and the suitable options available, will help steer the decision-making process to the right choice. To begin researching, take a look at the basic senior living options available:

Independent Living – Offering the lowest level of assistance, independent living is for those who truly are independent. If the goal is to remain independent and spend more time enjoying life with fewer time-consuming chores, senior independent living might be the best choice. Among the many advantages of a senior living community are privacy, increased social interaction with new friends, entertaining activities onsite and off, and a feeling of “community” often lacking when living alone at home. Independent living options include apartments, condos or villas that help downsize living space, upsize life and embrace lock-and-go freedom. Services include onsite dining, transportation, cleaning and laundry, maintenance, and 24-hour on-call personal care. Independent living offers the freedom to continue to pursue those retirement bucket list items without all the homeowner worries!

Assisted Living – When more care is required, assisted living is a great alternative to living at home. Senior assisted living relieves family members of the need to manage caregiving schedules, while providing a private apartment, and community spaces like common rooms, patios and dining rooms. Services include help with daily personal care like dressing and bathing, as well as assistance with daily medications. 

Like independent living, assisted living offers daily activities including physical fitness, art, music, and crafts; religious services onsite; movies; and outings to local places of interest. Many also offer onsite beauty/barber salons and ample opportunities for family and friends to join the fun. Most important of all is the sense of safety and security, which is monitored 24/7.

Memory Care – If memory is an issue, there’s no better place to live than in a memory care community where knowledgeable and compassionate professionals are there to guide and care for residents 24 hours a day. Because memory loss can range from occasionally misplacing a phone or car keys to mild cognitive impairment to dementia, such as that caused by Alzheimer’s disease, it’s best to base your decision on the recommendations of a physician concerning the level of care needed now, and into the future. Then, search for a community that can accommodate these specific needs and also enhances daily life. Look for a senior memory care community that provides personal assistance and healthy meals, but also provisions for maintaining cognitive health, such as ongoing assessments and activities designed to help residents on every level — physical, emotional and spiritual. Also notable is the security of memory care, which is difficult to achieve at home. It can literally be a lifesaver for those inclined to wander, a symptom that is associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Next, look into the costs and financing options for the level of care required. Keep in mind that costs go up as needs increase. Before comparing costs in the desired area, make a list of things that are mandatory, like help with personal care and medications; things that would be nice to have, like yoga classes; and things that may not be necessary, like pet-friendly communities. Then list all financial assets that can be used to pay for senior community life, including veteran’s benefits, pensions, long-term care insurance, and other resources available.

Now it’s time to talk. Start with family and enlist their help researching available options that will fulfill all the necessary requirements now and over time. Also talk to friends who already live in senior communities and ask their opinions, as well as the pros and cons of their communities. Be sure to keep notes that can be used during the decision-making process…

To help make the research manageable, download our “Family Decision Guide” that contains everything to know about finding the senior living community that’s a perfect fit. It contains helpful checklists, cost comparisons and other financial information, advice on talking to family, and much more. When the research is completed, schedule a tour of a 12 Oaks Senior Living community that meets your wants and needs, and get ready for a great new way of life!

download our family decision guide

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