Making the move to a senior living community can be
one of the biggest life changes for an older adult.
Thankfully, todayís wide range of eldercare options
means that there is literally something for everyone in
terms of care levels and cost.
The key to finding the perfect senior housing solution
involves a careful analysis of whatís needed and
research on whatís available. Here are some tips for
A good first step is to get the senior and any friends
or family involved in the process to make a list of
preferred services and amenities, along with any
questions or concerns. The list can then be
used to compare and contrast when visiting potential new
Like most professionals, we recommend that clients
consider only those facilities that are licensed by the
state in which they are located. Licensing ensures
that employees have undergone background checks, that
they are fully trained and are held accountable for all
that they do.
Licensed facilities also require signed contracts prior
to move-in. All contracts are different, and
each building has its own unique set of rules, which can
vary regarding such issues as deposit refunds, contract
termination, and even personal property insurance. We
advise clients to make sure that everything is in
writing, and that they understand it all. We also
recommend having an elder law attorney review the
Recent downturns in our nationís economy mean that
perhaps more than ever, cost is a consideration in
selecting a senior living community. For each property
being considered, itís important to find out exactly
whatís included, versus what costs extra (usually
services such as hair care, special trips, classes, or
extra personal care).
Of course, paying for care is frequently a concern.
Veteransí and Social Security benefits tend to be
overlooked, but can help with eldercare costs for
Although a lot of research can be done over the phone
and online, nothing can replace a first-hand visit to a
potential new home. On-site visits are great
opportunities to not only look around, but to also chat
with residents about what they like (and donít like)
about living there. Seniors and their loved ones
should ask current residents and staff as many questions
as possible, so there are no surprises if the older
adult, in fact, decides to move in.
When visiting a potential new home, here are some
specific things to observe:
- Is it
clean and well maintained?
- Is the
atmosphere warm and friendly?
the units attractive?
the food in the dining room look and taste good, and are
meals well balanced?
activities scheduled that will interest the senior?
An on-site visit is also a good chance to meet the
staff. Because they are responsible for residentsí
daily care, everyone should be completely comfortable
with them, and the services they provide. When
evaluating the staff, consider this:
everyone friendly, caring, and attentive?
they assist with medication taking, storage, and
they provide an initial assessment of a potential
someone moves in, are the residentís needs periodically
medical care providers available to residents?
does the community keep families informed about care?
Like everyone, older adults are sometimes fearful of
change, and may be unsure about making a major lifestyle
decision, such as moving to senior housing.
Luckily, many facilities offer short-term (called
respite) stays that can last for a few days, a few
weeks, or even a few months. The goal is to allow
potential residents to ďtry outĒ the community to see if
itís a good fit. We find that respite stays can
also help convince older adults of the benefits of
actually making a commitment to move.
When seeking senior housing, eldercare referral services
such as A Silver Connection (www.asilverconnection.com)
can be an important resource. Employees are
generally experienced in the full range of senior
housing and care options, including retirement
communities, independent living, assisted living, memory
care, supportive living and skilled nursing. A
busy referral service will typically work with literally
dozens of older adults and their families each month to
help each find a senior living community that meets
their specific needs.
With just a bit of up-front work, an older adult can
look forward to enjoying the next chapter of their life
in a senior living community that perfectly suits his or
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