Choosing a Senior Living Community in 5 Steps

For some moving into a senior living community is the best option for a variety of reasons.  Those reasons can be found in a previous post, click the link to learn more   But choosing a Senior Living community can feel very overwhelming so below are 5 steps to help you choose the best Senior Living option for you or your loved one.

  1.  Do your research.  Know your price point, general size of the community and preferred location.  Senior Living is very costly and it is shocking to most people when they first start looking.  Of course, the more money you have to work with the more options are available to you.  There are options for all price points it just becomes a matter of managing expectations and what amenities are the most important to you.  Long Term Care Insurance will pay for most Assisted Living communities, but does not for Independent Living.  However, Long Term Care insurance most of the time will cover any home care you receive while living in an Independent Living apartment.
  2. Word of Mouth is very important.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy a shirt without reading reviews so when it comes to choosing    community for yourself or your loved one asking family, friends and local community organizations is critical.     There are many places to search for references;  Friends who have gone through the experience of placing a loved one, Facebook forums, church, and community organizations that serve the aging community.  Truly any group you are a part of there will be someone who has or is going  through the same journey.   Opening up the conversation is very important and you will be surprised how many connections you form through sharing your questions, concerns and lessons learned.
  3. You have asked around and identified your price point.  Narrow down the options to your top 2 or 3 communities to plan to visit.  If you have done your research you should not need to visit anymore than that to make your final decision.  .  Don’t drive around all day visiting communities it all runs together and let’s be honest if you did your research and reached out to reputable sources one of the top 2 should be the community for your family.  BE REALISTIC!  Most communities are wonderful places that take great care of their residents but they are not perfect.  While touring communities say hello to the associates.  You should receive a warm greeting back.  Try to watch how the associates you see are interacting with the residents.  The community should feel alive and full of energy.  Be mindful certain times of the day are going to be more quiet than others.  Overall the community should be clean where residents seem happy and engaged.
  4. Ask to speak with the Executive Director.   The truth is that the crew of the ship is only as good as their leader.  Friendly, approachable and one who has good relationship with families but can set realistic expectation is what you are looking for.  When you speak make sure you tell them your biggest concerns and your most important priorities for your loved one.  The ED should acknowledge and answer honestly about what you can expect.  They’re maybe things on your list that are not realistic in a community setting and you should be given clear expectations but you should also feel your loved one will receive personalized care.
  5. You have decided your top choice and are ready to pull the trigger, I would recommend one final step.  Stop by the community without an appointment just to ensure you still get the good feelings you had during the scheduled tour.  When walking in you will also get the opportunity to meet another member of the management team if the sales team is not available.  The community should be able to find someone to walk you around.  It will be a quick tour but you want to make sure the community still feels like a good fit when they are not expecting you.

Choosing a Senior Living for yourself or your loved one can feel complicated and filled with emotions.  Following the steps above can help you navigate the process with feeling a little more prepared and knowledgable.  As with all things in life especially when it has to do with such a big decision as Senior Living trust your gut and ask as many questions as you need too.  There is a place for everyone and following the suggestions above you will find the best option for your family.