One of the biggest decisions to make in retirement is where to live. More and more seniors are embracing senior living communities that offer independent living as well as the opportunity to transition to assisted living or memory care if necessary. When researching senior living communities, keep the following factors in mind as you compare and contrast options available.
1. Know what you need
Senior living communities often offer different levels of care from basics like dining options in independent living to help with personal care in assisted living to more secure memory care. If you aren’t sure what each level of care provides, our blog, “How to Research Senior Living Options” is a great place to begin.
2. Compare apples to apples
Once the level of care required is known, take a closer look at senior communities offering that care. Comparing communities across levels of care that aren’t appropriate will only make the decision more difficult.
- Independent living communities offer a range of benefits but among the most important things to consider are preferred location, lifestyle, housing options, and amenities including transportation, laundry and cleaning services, and accessibility. For an itemized list of things to ask about, SeniorAdvisor.com offers a printable “Independent Living Checklist” to help.
- Assisted living communities offer hands-on help that is essential for many seniors to retain their independence and live safely. But all are not created equal. To learn more about what assisted living communities offer and what to be aware of, check out “Choosing an Assisted Living Residence: A Consumer’s Guide” from the American Health Care Association’s National Center for Assisted Living.
- Memory care provides a high level of care for those experiencing dementia or similar memory problems so it’s important to choose a facility that can provide the care needed now and going forward. Moving from one memory care community to another can be difficult for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease so making the right choice the first time can help avoid anxiety and stress. Again, memory care facilities can vary in services so find out what options are available in the Alzheimer’s Associations’ blog “Residential Care.”
3. Lifestyle and culture
A senior living community that fits physical needs is great, but it’s also important to consider cultural, spiritual and lifestyle needs when choosing a community. Top of mind should be questions like:
- What types of activities are offered?
- Are worship services offered and how often?
- Are there opportunities to go out into the local community for shopping and entertainment?
- Is there help available to attend activities if needed?
- Are pets welcome?
- Are meals healthy and inviting?
- Are visits from family and friends welcomed?
Moving to a senior community can be an enlightening and engaging experience offering new perspectives and new friends — when you’re in the right place!
4. Gather all the information available
As the list of appropriate and desirable senior communities gets shorter, don’t forget to thoroughly browse the websites of each. Look for information to download that further describes each community, checkout activity calendars, and view images of facilities and floorplans. Also, don’t forget to read testimonials from residents and family members that can truly reflect the culture and level of care provided. If you have questions, chat online or call to get the answers you need now.
Also essential is cost information; Beware of senior communities that aren’t transparent about cost options. Once you are in the decision-making process, be sure to request cost information, which should be readily available. Choosing a senior community that considers trust a must is a good beginning.
5. Take a tour before you decide.
Finally, set up appointments to tour the finalist senior living communities. Try to arrange appointments for early in the day while you are fresh and ask a friend or family member to join you. Pay attention to details such as:
- Is the facility clean everywhere you look?
- Are staff and residents smiling and welcoming?
- Are living space options adequate?
- Are engaging activities taking place?
Take notes and before leaving, ask for any informational brochures that can help in the decision-making process.
Just like buying a new home or taking a new job, moving to a senior living community is a life-changing decision that requires research. To help keep it all straight from start to finish, 12 Oaks Senior Living has compiled the “Family Decision Toolkit: How to choose the right senior living community.” Download a copy today!