They say life is all about options and if you’ve decided to begin looking at senior living communities you certainly know how true that is!
Senior living has evolved in a wonderful way; shifting from a purely clinical focus to one of engagement and care for the whole person. And because of this active, convenient and worry-free lifestyle, people are moving to these communities sooner than ever; even while perfectly healthy! But all that choice comes with the task of determining which options — and senior living community — are best for you or your loved one. We admit, that can be a challenge until you learn these tips.
Types of Senior Living Communities
In order to choose the senior living community that best fits your needs, you must first get an understanding of the types of communities available.
Retirement living communities typically offer:
- Accommodations that range from condominiums and apartments to free-standing cottages
- Worry-free living with restaurant-style dining, housekeeping, laundry services and transportation
- Full social calendar as well as activities, clubs and outings
- Amenities that include concierge services, a pool, fitness center, library and beauty/barber salon
Assisted living communities typically offer:
- Assistance with activities such as bathing, dressing and medication as well as onsite medical care customized to just the right amount of support
- A homelike setting without the worry of home upkeep, cooking, cleaning and yard maintenance
- Spacious accommodations, 24-hour supervision and security plus transportation and amenities such as a pool, fitness center and onsite beauty salon
- Daily social opportunities, activities and outings
Memory care communities typically offer:
- Staff specially trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care
- 24-hour support and a soothing, easy to navigate building design
- Therapy, structured activities and programs that encourage purpose as well as social engagement
- Comfortable private or semi-private rooms, housekeeping and laundry service as well as emergency call systems and health monitoring
Nursing care communities typically offer:
- Comfortable private or semi-private rooms with round-the-clock care and assistance with daily activities
- An ideal environment for those with chronic health conditions, incontinence, who require intravenous medications and/or are recovering from surgery or hospitalization
- Wellness programs, social opportunities and activities
- Housekeeping, laundry services, three daily meals, onsite beauty salon and transportation
Keep in mind that while some communities stand alone as retirement living, assisted living, memory care or nursing care, there are communities, like ours, that offer this full continuum of care all on one campus. The benefit is that rather than having to move from place to place as health needs evolve, you can enjoy the comfort of familiar surroundings and friends plus have continuity in care for added peace of mind and convenience.
Comparing Senior Living Communities
Now that you have a better understanding of the types of senior living communities, it’s time to do your due diligence to find the best fit for you or your loved one. These four tips can help make it easier.
Take some time to honestly assess where things stand for you or your loved one right now and consider:
- Current health concerns
- Social wellbeing and isolation concerns
- Whether you can or want to keep up with home maintenance
- Any difficulties in performing daily activities and tasks
Create a list of your must-have and nice-to-have features as well as location preferences and budget.
Ask around. Check with family members, friends, neighbors and trusted advisors such as your attorney, financial planner or clergy as well as local professionals who may work with senior living communities to get their recommendations and/or feedback. Even checking review websites can give you additional perspective.
Tour, tour tour. Yes, we said that three times because ideally you should visit this number of senior living communities for comparison. But before stepping on the property, have what you need to look for in mind or written on a list. This keeps you focused and less likely to be overwhelmed once you’re there and also helps you evaluate the same criteria for each. Here’s a list to get you started:
- What is the community’s reputation and/or rating?
- What is the associate to resident ratio?
- What level(s) of care is offered?
- What training and qualifications do associates have?
- Does the community feel welcoming; are associates friendly?
- How has communication with the associates been so far?
- What types of activities and amenities are offered?
- Is there a daily schedule?
- What is the dining program like? Are dietary restrictions followed?
- What fitness and wellness options are there?
- Is transportation offered?
- Are pets allowed?
- Are there ample social opportunities?
- Are the residents friendly and welcoming?
- How secure is the community?
- What types of accommodations are offered?
- Is the occupancy high or low?
- Can residents personalize their space?
- Is the community clean and well-maintained?
- Is the location convenient?
- What is the price? Is it a rental model like ours or do you have a buy-in fee?
- What’s included in the price? What services are add-ons?
- What are the payment options?
Lastly, keep in mind that nothing beats firsthand experience so talk with the residents about their daily life in the community as well.