You, or your senior loved one, are ready to make the move to an assisted living community. However, there are many decisions to make before you slide the last of the marked boxes into her new home. Choosing an assisted living community can be stressful and frustrating, especially if you don’t know where to begin. Fortunately, we have compiled a few tips to get you moving in the right direction for you, your loved one, and your unique situation.
General Things to Consider
The good news is that if you are looking for assisted living communities, you already know the type of care that you, or your senior loved one, needs in order to live happily and most independently. With that obstacle out of the way, you can begin narrowing down your search based on a few important, but often overlooked, factors.
Just as when you look for a single-family home, location matters. In fact, location of the assisted living community you choose may matter even more than in a typical house hunt. When finding an ideal location for an assisted living community, consider how close it is to family members and friends. Is a 30-minute drive going to deter a family visit, or is 50 minutes too far for a family member to drive to the assisted living community in case of an emergency? These are important questions to ask yourself when picking where your assisted living community should be.
Beyond proximity to family members and friends, consider how close the assisted living community is to your, or your senior loved one’s, hospital of choice or other medical providers. An emergency call to 911 can end up taking you, or your senior loved one, to a new hospital if the assisted living community is not in the general vicinity of the hospital of choice.
If you, or your loved one, are considering moving to assisted living in another state or region, be sure to take climate into consideration. While warm weather can do wonders for seniors living with arthritis or other joint pain, humid air can leave those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other breathing concerns, gasping for air. If you aren’t sure what part climate may play in the move, consult with a doctor before making a decision.
Getting from here to there becomes especially important when you no longer drive. When choosing an assisted living community, be sure to check on the availability of public transportation. Though many assisted living communities offer transportation to and from points of interest, such as banks, churches, and grocery stores, you, or your loved one, may want to hit a favorite restaurant or shop in town. In these cases, public transportation can very helpful.
Assisted living communities offer much more than just delicious meals, friendly neighbors, and extra assistance. Exceptional communities feature amenities that will impress even the most staunch critic. Discover which amenities are most interesting when touring communities in your ideal location range. Are there engaging activities and trips planned regularly? Is a weekly housekeeping visit complimentary? Are there on-site doctor office hours or medical screenings available? Is there a partnership with a local community college for continuing education opportunities?
After you have narrowed your list of assisted living communities to a specific location and found a few that offer amenities that support your, or your senior loved one’s, lifestyle, it is time to consider the cost. Most assisted living communities are private pay, and do not accept Medicare or Medicaid. In these cases, there is typically a monthly rent that covers the apartment and utilities, as well as meals, housekeeping services, activities, and other amenities.
When determining how much an assisted living community may cost, be sure to ask if there are any additional costs associated with a higher level of care or assistance. Determine if there are other fees, such as for incontinence products or to attend group trips, as well. The more you are able to know in regard to finances, the more realistic your budget will be.
Find a Community Near You
The best way to find information about an assisted living community that will help you make a decision is to visit the communities. A tour can show you not only the environmental factors of the community, but also the cultural ones. Is the executive director friendly when your tour goes by the office? Are staff members engaged with residents? Do residents seem happy and healthy? Feel free to return to communities more than once, asking if you can attend a dinner or even a group activity to get the real resident experience.
You and your senior loved one are now ready to begin a search for an assisted living community that makes everyone happy and gives you, or your senior loved one, the chance to be as healthy as possible. Enjoy the process of getting to know your options!