The prospect of helping a loved one out of their home and into a senior living community can be one of the most difficult decisions an individual or family can make. There’s the actual decision, which is daunting enough – but there’s also the tough process of sorting through different senior living options and trying to pinpoint which one suits your needs.
A logical place to begin your search is with location. Do you or your loved one prefer to stay near the community where they currently reside, with access to their friends, activities, and hobbies, or does moving closer to an adult child and grandchildren make more sense? Once you have narrowed down the location, determining the level of care you or your loved one needs or may need in the future will help you select the types of communities to consider.
Taking into account the health and mobility changes that can come with aging, a community that offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care gives you the widest array of options. Regardless, it’s wise to focus your search to communities offering both Independent and Assisted (not all offer Memory Care), since they offer the services most likely to be needed both now and down the road.
Once you’ve identified a list of properties in your target geographical area, it’s time to visit! It is recommended to schedule tours in at least three different communities so that you can compare levels of service, amenities, and pricing. Here are six tips that can help you get a full picture of what each community can offer you or your loved one on your next tour:
- Observe the layout and tone of the community. How big or small are the common areas and apartments? Do its features accommodate changes in health and mobility? Is the building itself clean and well-maintained? The answers to these core questions can help you assess whether or not this community is ideal for you or your loved one. If you are visiting in-person, rely on your five senses throughout the visit. Try to look past the surface and into the details of the building, the colors, furniture, and finishes. Does it fit you or your loved one’s preferences?
- Remember to prioritize safety and security. While it can be easy to get wrapped up in how beautiful these communities can be, it’s important to focus on the safety features of the building as well. This is especially true for seniors who may experience symptoms of dementia and are likely to wander. How is the community secured? What are the staffing ratios, patterns, and hours? When is medical help available? Are there extra safety measurements in place for memory care residents? These questions are vital to ensuring the safety of you or loved one in their new home.
- Assess the community staff. When you join a senior living community, it should feel like you are joining a family that includes the residents and the associates working there. Try to observe one-on-one interactions between residents and staff members. Be sure to ask about staff trainings and certifications as well as their approach to care and any accreditations the staff or community may have.
- Get to know the community’s social offerings, daily activities, and residents. While it is important to observe interactions between residents and staff members, it is equally as important to pay attention to how residents respond to one another. Are they friendly and welcoming? Do they have good things to say about each other and their community? If possible, try to join in on the daily offerings happening during the tour and enjoy a meal in the dining room for the full experience.
- Consider next steps should your care needs increase. Most seniors would prefer to age in place, which is why so many are hesitant to join a senior living community in the first place. It is necessary to think about you or your loved one’s future throughout your visit. Would this community be able to accommodate evolving care needs? Do they offer Assisted Living or Memory Care should you need it? In the event that the community would not be able to continue care in the future, what is the process of transitioning elsewhere? And more importantly, ask yourself if another move is something you would even consider.
- Let your instincts guide you. At the end of the day, you know yourself or your loved one best, and you will know when you’ve found the place to call home. Trust your gut and enjoy the experience!
For more helpful information on how to evaluate senior living communities, send us your queries here.