How to Choose the Right Senior Living Community
Senior living communities aren’t just one-size-fits-all.
Perhaps you’re a retiree in your mid-60s looking to develop a support community with people at your age and stage that you can “age in place” with. Or maybe you require more advanced care, or specialized care depending on your specific health limitations. With the spectrum of options available today, there’s truly something for everyone. The challenge is finding what’s best for you and your future.
Understand Your Options
- Life Plan Communities: This is a comprehensive care option with many healthcare services and amenities. It accounts for a full spectrum of ages and needs, from those who want independent living to those who need to transition to more advanced health care (assisted living, skilled nursing, etc.). Most require an entry fee and monthly payments.
- Assisted Living Communities: Residents live in apartments and are mobile but receive help for meals, personal care, and medication. An assisted living facility does not provide as intense health care as nursing homes, but they can communicate with providers and establish a care plan.
- Memory Care Communities: These communities are specialized for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. They are staffed with trained medical professionals that can properly assist residents with their unique needs.
- Green House Homes: A residential community option that takes on institutional long-term care and post-acute care. It allows residents to work and lead social lives while still receiving care and access to proper health services.
Identify Your Needs and Requirements
Some senior living communities have an age restriction. Decide which ages you are most comfortable with and seek out communities that match up with your preferences. There are communities like Green House Homes that provide a good mix of care while allowing you to live in a residential setting and lead a fulfilled life. Also, find out if the community is pet-friendly as not all are. If that is important to you, make it a priority in your search.
Understanding your level of care is also vital to choosing a senior living community. Many assisted living centers are able to accommodate lower levels of care, but as diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s progress, higher levels of care may be the correct option.
Pricing is a major factor when it comes to researching senior living communities. Life Plan Communities are more expensive but provide a host of amenities and excellent care for all residents. Assisted Living Communities are lower priced but cannot accommodate all health needs. It is important to research communities and budget according to your needs.
Tour Potential Communities
Just as many high schoolers visit and tour potential colleges to find the right fit, those looking to find the right senior living community should plan tours to get eyes on the different options.
It is important to make the most out of your visit. Make sure to research facilities and find places that have either been referred or received good reviews. Then go on a screening visit. This will allow you to see a full day of activities and how care is handled.
Make sure to weigh the cleanliness of the community, staff friendliness, the quality of food, maintenance, amenities, and the living situation. If possible try to meet with a higher level staff member and ask questions about the community.
You should also ensure that the credentials of the community are valid. You can check this by reviewing the local AAA or Area Agency on Aging or the local geriatric care manager. Your care is the top priority; make sure the facility is equipped to treat it that way. Also, try to meet with a member of the resident’s council to find out if the community is run well and will be a good fit for you.
Research Costs and Packages
The rental housing cost and care of service packages account for the biggest part of the senior living price tag. Be wary of hidden fees, such as medication management fees. Also, ask about different amenities. Is housekeeping included in the cost? Cable television? Meals at all facilities? Enrichment classes?
Make sure the package you choose matches your level of care. You shouldn’t be paying for services you don’t need, but you also want to make sure that your package is comprehensive enough to cover the full scope of your needs. A good package should include emergency alert services and connections to local doctors and telemedicine. Don’t hesitate to negotiate the plan and ask questions. If anything merits a strong advocate, it’s your (or your loved one’s) health and wellness.
Trying to choose the best senior living community can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Make your list: properly research all options and weigh them against your current health and care needs. Then, make a budget plan that will provide for your care, including more advanced needs that may develop as you age.
Finally, don’t lose yourself in the transition. Make sure your needs and wants are taken care of and that your community allows social stimulation and activities. Aging requires far more than just great physical care. Your mental and cognitive health deserve top quality support, and so do your social needs. It’s not just about aging, it’s about aging exceptionally!