The prospect of helping parents 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.
Location is a logical place to begin your search. Do you or your parent 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 parent 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, schedule tours in at least three communities so that you can compare levels of service. Ask specific questions about apartment options and restrictions; which services are included and which are a la carte, and how they are billed; what medical care is accessible on site; their enrichment program and Engagement Director. Do daily activities seem formulaic and stale, or are they reflective of a broad and dynamic array of interests? And while staff members are key in your discernment process, it’s critical you get the perspective of residents and their families if possible. Ask community members about their experience there – how long they’ve lived there, why they chose that community, their opinion of staff and surroundings.
It’s also important to do a drop by at any community you’re serious about. Check the surroundings; are they clean and well-kept? Do you see dirt or smell odors? Are residents content and engaged? Is the overall atmosphere pleasant and welcoming? While orchestrated tours are important, dropping in during the day – and in the evening, if possible – is perhaps the best way to get an authentic feel for a community and its residents.
For more helpful information on how to evaluate senior living communities, send us your queries here.