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Choosing a Senior Living Community: Seven Things to Keep in Mind
Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on September 22nd, 2015

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Choosing a Senior Living Community: Seven Things to Keep in Mind

Aging & Caregiving

choosing_a_senior_living_community_seven_things_to_keep_in_mindIs mom or dad no longer able to safely live alone at home? Has managing their care become difficult and stressful? Perhaps a senior living community is the right fit! Consider these seven simple things when evaluating senior living options….

While choosing a senior living community can be an overwhelming task, taking the time to find the right home for your aging loved one is an important part of fostering a smooth transition. While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for choosing the best living arrangement for aging adults, evaluating several factors can help you make an informed decision.

1. Starting Your Search

There’s no better place to begin when searching for senior living communities than by turning to family members, friends, neighbors and other trusted advisors for their recommendations. Be sure to ask questions, and be specific: the more information you have, the more educated your decision will be.

The internet is also a valuable resource when it comes to researching potential retirement communities. Many websites offer tips on what to look for and what to consider before starting your search.

2. Consider Your Loved One’s Needs

Senior living options vary in terms of the type of assistance available. Each individual’s capabilities and needs are a significant factor in choosing a care setting. Is your parent largely independent requiring little daily assistance? If so, he’ll require different services than if he has acute care needs, such as medication management and around-the-clock healthcare monitoring.

In addition to meeting current needs, it’s also important to determine whether there’s a sufficient continuum of care for changing needs in the future. Senior living communities will work with you to determine whether their offerings meet the care needs of your loved one.

3. Consider Your Own Needs

It is also important to determine whether a prospective senior living community meets your family’s needs. The smoothest transitions occur when there is a joint agreement between all parties -- pertaining to everything from timing to type of care to location. While you don’t want to settle for lower quality care just to enjoy a convenient location, you also don’t want to drive miles away to visit your loved one at a high end community. Find the right balance for your family, without sacrificing quality of care.

4. Pay a Visit

Avoid choosing a senior living community without first paying a visit. If possible, arrive during an busy time when there is lots of activity in the community. This way you can witness for yourself whether the culture appears to be a good fit for your parent. Is the lifestyle real and authentic or simply part of the marketing angle?

Because mealtimes are also important for seniors, make arrangements to have a meal at each prospective facility so you can sample the cuisine, meet other residents, and get an overall feel for the dining experience. Dining with other residents and/or family members also provides a great opportunity to ask questions and learn more about what life is really like at the community.

5. Cost Considerations

Cost is an important piece to consider as well. However, be sure that you consider cost versus value. A community may be a good value, even if it is a bit more expensive, if it meets the needs of your loved one as a whole person. Another community may be simply less expensive, but not as committed to providing the best care and service, making it not a good value.Many times, when it comes to senior living, you “get what you pay for,” just like everything else in life.

The price tag may initially seem steep, but it’s important to factor in your aging loved one’s monthly expenses, along with the cost of maintaining a home - during all seasons of the year. Also keep in mind that many of the benefits gained in moving to a senior living community can’t be quantified, such as opportunities for meaningful relationships with others; active, healthy living; and peace of mind.

6. Honor Your Instincts

You know your aging loved one better than anyone. As you tour each facility consider whether your parent would feel comfortable there. Is the staff friendly and open? Is the setting warm and inviting? If you feel at ease, your loved one likely will, too. Likewise, if your parent has a strong feeling one way or another about a particular facility, be sure to take these concerns into account.

7. Take Your Time

Choosing a senior living arrangement is a process, and one which can't be suitably decided in a day or two. Allow yourself plenty of time to make your decision. This may require multiple visits, and/or additional meetings with community representatives should additional questions arise.

Just as all people are different so are all senior living communities. Ultimately, the process of choosing a home is not just about picking out a physical address, but also about selecting a setting in which your aging loved one will thrive. And remember: the goal is the straightforward: to determine whether a potential senior living community offers the right culture,care, services and amenities to meet a prospective resident's needs.

Key Takeaways

  • With so many different types of senior living communities, finding the right one takes time.

  • When evaluating prospective facilities, consider both the needs of your aging loved one, as well as all members of the caregiving team.

  • Visiting potential senior living communities is an important part of making an informed decision.

  • In addition to trusting your own instincts, welcome and trust the instincts and input of your loved one throughout the process.

About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.