Choosing A Senior Living Community
Following Article available on ALFA.org
The choice to move into a senior living community is as individual as the person making the decision. There is no clear-cut, step-by-step template that tells people exactly when it is time to consider a senior living community, whether that be an independent living community, assisted living community or nursing home. However, there are numerous signs that a new living arrangement is needed, such as inability to manage a home’s upkeep, assistance with meals, medication management, loneliness, and other issues. Here, we offer some tips for choosing a quality residence and the important factors in the decision-making process.
Choosing a senior living residence for yourself or a loved one is one of the biggest decisions of your life. It involves the sobering realization that living alone in a home full of love and memories may no longer be the best setting at this phase of your life or your loved one’s life. Fortunately, many more assisted living and senior living options are available today than there were decades ago.
“Choice” is the key word in any conversation about senior living options. Senior living offers choice about where you or your loved one wants to live, choice about the services provided, and choice about the level of care and type of environment that bests matches your or your loved one’s physical and emotional needs. Each senior living resident and potential resident is a unique individual, so high-quality senior living residences offer a wide array of choices.
While every senior living community is different, typical services include:
- Housekeeping services
- Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and walking
- Access to health and medical services
- Alzheimer’s and memory care
- Staff available to respond to both scheduled and unscheduled needs
- 24-hour security
- Emergency call systems for each resident’ apartment
- Exercise and wellness programs
- Medication management
- Personal laundry services
- Social and recreational activities
Checklist for Evaluating Senior Living Communities
The downloadable assisted living checklist defines the typical assisted living residence and what consumers can expect from an assisted living community. You can use this checklist when you visit and evaluate a potential new home for yourself or for a loved one. The guide and checklist also includes information on choosing an assisted Living communities for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, often referred to as Special Care Units (SCUs). Download the Guide to Choosing an Assisted Living Community checklist.
Assessing Senior Living Care Needs
Because a variety of senior living care settings are available-including independent living, assisted living, nursing homes, etc.-it’s important to assess your or your loved one’s care needs.
While some seniors may need little to no assistance, others may need medication management and some health-care monitoring, and still others may have acute care needs. Senior living communities you’re considering will conduct an assessment to determine if that care environment is appropriate. However, to give you an initial feel for which environment may be most appropriate, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offers the CarePlanner interactive tool to help you choose between different living options.
Family Caregiver Considerations
Many times, families can make a joint decision about when it is time to consider moving into a senior living care setting. This type of decision-making allows for some research and time to explore the very real concerns of the senior and leads to greater satisfaction with the choices made. The prospect of moving is unsettling, requiring a move from a known and seemingly secure situation to an unknown situation where seniors may worry about loss of control and independence.
Families and potential residents should visit assisted living communities together. If you’re forced to make a decision for your loved one, such as in the case of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, the burden of responsibility can seem immense. The Alzheimer’s Association provides valuable tips for helping care for and make decisions for a loved one with dementia.
Perhaps the best advice is to follow your heart to know exactly when it is time for you or your loved one to make the transition. Change is rarely easy, but the good news is that most seniors, once they weather the upheaval of transition, report better quality life in their senior living residence.