What to Look for in a Senior Living Community: A Step-By-Step Approach
A Google search for Senior Living Communities returns over 6.5 million options. It’s an overwhelming number layered on top of what can feel like an overwhelming endeavor. It’s difficult to know where to begin, but a few key questions will help you determine which community or type of community is right for you or a loved one.
- What is the ideal location?
- What care services are available/necessary now and in the future?
- What amenities are preferred (? Maybe there’s a better word but amenities by nature of what they are not thing people need)?
- What activities are desired?
- What is the cost?
Location, Location, Location
For most, this is an ideal place to start. Many seniors have established routines and friendships in a familiar town with deep roots and want to stay close. Others may consider relocating to a different city to be closer to children and grandchildren, or finally making the move to a dream destination with a friendly climate or stunning landscape. Regardless of the circumstance, geographically limiting the search is a simple first step towards building a manageable list of options.
It’s important to take time and get familiar with the terminology to fully understand all of the options available to seniors. Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing Care are living options that can be found separately or all together in one community.
Independent Living frees seniors from the burdens of maintaining a family home, meal preparation and more, leaving time to enjoy travel, hobbies and a life unencumbered.
Assisted Living offers support for things like medication management, bathing and dressing, and provides peace of mind for family members that are unable to help, knowing that loved ones are getting the nutrition and care that might be otherwise overlooked.
Memory Care typically takes place in a secure setting staffed by professionals that can provide the type of support and assistance necessary for individuals with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
Skilled Nursing Care is a type of care appropriate for seniors that require around the clock healthcare or rehabilitative care in addition to assistance with daily living.
Senior living communities are also typically categorized based on the payment structure and care options available. Most communities can be categorized as rental or Life Plan Communities, which typically include an entrance fee.
Rental communities typically charge a monthly rental fee in addition to service fees.
Life Plan Communities, formerly known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities, typically include a residence entrance fee and monthly service fees.
Consider a community with a focus on quality, service offerings and attention to detail. It may feature chefs that tailor healthy gourmet meal plans to residents’ nutritional needs. Housekeeping, transportation and salon services may also be offered. Amenities that enhance and encourage active lifestyles and advanced wellness are customary. Fitness and aquatic centers, libraries, art studios, beautiful outdoor spaces, cocktail lounges and woodworking shops have become the new norm. Potential residents have the ability to continue living life to its fullest in a way they are accustomed.
Deciding which amenities are non-negotiable will continue to pare down the prospective list even further.
Social Life 2.0
The activity calendars at senior living communities offer potential residents boundless options to get involved, remain active with current interests and continually learn new things, all while meeting and interacting with other like-minded seniors. Living in a community with others is critical in preventing isolation and loneliness, and the most experienced community staff curate activity calendars that overflow with multiple activities every day.
Residents may enjoy the opportunity to volunteer, serve in leadership roles on community-wide committees, enjoy happy hours, games, clubs, shopping or dining outings. Those in pursuit of life-long learning should have opportunities to participate in lectures, book clubs, concerts, Broadway musicals, educational outings and trips, lectures and classes and more.
The vast resources available to seniors make community living a time of exciting change and opportunity. In fact, communities typically offer more wellness, nutrition, fitness, social and learning opportunities than one could experience at any other one-site setting, regardless of age! Knowing what kind of lifestyle is important helps to determine the ideal living scenario.
Dollars and Cents
Moving can be a costly endeavor, and moving to a senior living community comes with preconceived notions about the cost. Frequently, residents find that living in a senior living community is often the same, or even less, than staying at home. Many community websites offer cost calculators for potential residents to compare their current living expenses with the cost of living in a community and see first-hand how reasonable community living expenses can be.
With a short list of potential communities now within reach, visiting each community becomes a reality. While there, attend an event with other residents and ask questions about their experiences, watch staff interact with residents, and enjoy a meal in the dining room; a great way to start meeting potential new neighbors. Taking a step-by-step approach to narrowing the search is a low-stress option that may make finding the right community obvious.
To learn more about North Oaks, or plan a visit, call (410) 486-9090.