How to get the facts about senior living options before a move
Choosing a senior living option is a critical decision for both the senior and his or her loved ones. While research should be a priority to help avoid unnecessary surprises when it’s moving day, it should be done in a way that helps minimize feelings of distress and ensures everyone makes an informed decision when it comes to senior living.
There is a significant amount of information on the topic. Some of it is good, and some of it is poorly researched or based on the misconception that seniors will be bored or lonely or lose their independence in a senior living community. Here are a few suggestions to help you or a loved one maneuver through the reams of articles, blogs and guides you might land on as you learn about senior living communities and other retirement options.
Step one: Keep on track with trusted resources
As you begin your research, you might be inclined to check online reviews on Yelp or Golden Reviews, or to ask friends who have already made a move to senior living for the inside scoop. Although there’s nothing wrong with this approach, keep in mind that any facts you hear might be also wrapped up in opinion and personal preference. Alternately, you could start by perusing some general articles on senior living:
- Helpguide.org offers comprehensive senior living resources.
- AARP delivers solid information on a range of articles relevant to older adults, including senior housing.
- Argentum, an association for senior living providers, also provides good resources for the public on a variety of retirement living options.
Another useful resource is Holiday Retirement’s e-book “Overcoming misconceptions: 7 concerns about senior living to erase from your mind,” which deals with some of the common myths and misunderstandings around senior living.
Additionally, Holiday Retirement’s not-to-be-missed companion piece, “7 unexpected financial benefits of living in a senior living community,” unravels the myth that aging in place can be more cost-effective than senior living. Another fact-filled resource dealing with finances is the cost of care study published by the financial company Genworth. This annual report details the range in cost not only among different senior living and care options, but also among various regions in the U.S.
As you educate yourself about your options, don’t overlook government sites like Eldercare Locator. Not only does this site provide informative resources like the seniors housing guide “Housing Options for Older Adults: A Guide for Making Housing Decisions," but it can also connect you to local senior living resources and related services. LongTermCare.gov is another valuable site that discusses long-term care planning including senior living costs and several options on how to pay for the care you may need.
Step two: Hone in on select communities
Once you have gone through many of the resources referenced in this article, you will be more knowledgeable about senior living options and have a feel for which option might work best for you or an aging loved one. The next step is to come up with a short list of senior living communities located near you or a loved one, followed by a review of their websites and available information.
It’s also a good idea to schedule a visit to each of the selected communities to get an understanding of what daily life is like for residents compared to any preconceived beliefs you may have of what it may be like.
When you visit a senior living community, consider having lunch or dinner to sample the food. Also, be sure to ask residents any questions you may have or participate in an activity to see firsthand how the community team members engage with residents. In addition to checking out some of the daily events, be sure to chat with the community team members.
Here’s a list of questions to get the conversation going:
- Can residents cook meals for themselves, or are all meals provided, or both?
- Can the kitchen accommodate specific dietary requests?
- Is there a diverse range of activities including ones geared to small interest groups?
- Are residents’ interests taken into account when the activity calendar is designed?
- What type of group exercise programs and fitness/wellness options are offered?
- Does the community provide parking?
- What type of alternate transportation is available?
- Does the community allow pets, and, if so, what are the restrictions?
It’s always important to consider a community’s amenities. Ask yourself whether the community provides the ones that mean the most to you, like outings to nearby landmarks, transportation to appointments and routine housekeeping. Additionally, whichever senior living option you choose, make sure it meets the daily lifestyle needs of you or a loved one. For example, if you or a loved one needs assistance with daily activities of living, then assisted living or memory care may be a more suitable option.
In your journey for the best possible senior housing, refer to this article from time to time if you feel you’re going off course; or, if you still have questions about life at a senior living community, join the thousands of senior and adult children who have downloaded our e-book that looks at how communities like the ones at Holiday Retirement are dispelling common myths about senior living.