- Understand Your Choices. These can range from independent senior living, assisted living as well as skilled nursing options. Some communities offer all three and are considered a ‘continuum of care community.’
According to SeniorLiving.com, the benefit of a continuing care option is the ability for an individual to “age in place.” In other words, “a senior who loses some independence won't need to leave their community. Caregivers are already on the property — plus the payments for assisted living or skilled nursing are already covered.” Some communities only offer a single choice, such as independent living, where everyone lives on their own but are still part of a shared community which may offer activities, dining, and security.
- Determine Your Desired Support. Before choosing, it’s wise to assess your current physical situation. Do you need some extra help with everyday activities? Or are you completely mobile and independent – and just prefer someone else to take care of the housework? It’s not a bad idea to schedule a visit to your doctor to see how things stand and ask their opinion. If you need the assurance of having future medical care available, find out what medical services are provided with the communities you’re considering.
Even if you’re in excellent shape, you still may want to consider an “age-in-place” community, so as your needs change so can the level of your care. This strategy works well with couples too, since one person’s needs may change more quickly than the other.
- Examine Your Budget. Do you want all your needs (home, dining, amenities) to be included or all-inclusive? Then you’ll want to ask comprehensive questions about what is or isn’t encompassed within a community’s monthly or annual investment. Also, watch for the sometimes-unexpected fees. Seniorliving.org suggests asking if there is a waiting list deposit, move-in fee, initial assessment fee, housekeeping or laundry charges, additional fees for meals (or determine the number of meals included), cable TV and internet, utilities, phone, transportation, parking, and various activities, such as field trips.
- Choose Your Locale. Where do you want to live? Close to shopping, doctors, dentists, the library and other retail outlets? Or are you more interested in staying close to family, kids, and grandkids? Also, is there a particular climate you want to move to? All can factor into the equation of where your perfect senior living community is located.
- Assess Your Living Requirements. Consider all your various living choices, whether it’s living independently in an apartment, condo or cottage or relying on a more structured feel, which might be a spacious apartment or even assisted living alternatives. Reflect on your square footage and layout requirements (one floor only, perhaps), and additional options that make tasks easier. Some individuals want something smaller, but still completely private. Others look forward to apartment living and being close on-hand to others.
- Amenities You Can’t Live Without. These could be certain conveniences at the household level, perhaps help with everyday chores (housecleaning, laundry or errands), or the desire for freshly prepared meals, served in a dining room, for one or even all three meals. SeniorLiving.org suggests amenities might range from an onsite salon and barber shop, community activities, concierge services, transportation, game/tv room, golf course, healthcare center, private rental hall, laundry service, restaurant-style dining, security guards, and fitness center and swimming pool. The amenities you choose should match your desired lifestyle.
Get A Feel For The Community. Visit every community on your list – and more than once and at different times of the day, if you can. Listen to your intuition. Is it an active community with lots to offer? Are the residents and staff happy, smiling and relaxed? Does it feel like home when you walk through the doors?
- Look For What You Want, Socially. Finding those you have a rapport with and making new friends are essential to choosing the right community and enjoying your new life. It’s not a bad idea to find out the age range of the residents or what activities are most popular with residents. Are there day trips available, clubs, hobbies, and other networks to get immersed in? Finding the right fit also means finding the right blend of friends, activities, social opportunities as well as taking care of everyday needs, like dining and housekeeping.
- Check Credentials and References. While each state has its unique licensing requirements, there are certain standards each community must follow. View your state’s laws at https://www.assistedliving.com/laws-by-state/. Also examine the community’s accreditations, such as the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CARF) or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). ConsumerReports.org advises that “you review the residence’s licensing and inspection records to see whether there are reasons for concern. Depending on your state, you may find this data online—check with your state Area Agency on Aging.”
- Move In And Relax! If the time is right for you or a loved one to move, contact Kaplan today. We can help with your journey and ensure the transition is smooth and easy – and give all the attention you need.