The decision to move to a senior living community is definitely not an easy one to make for seniors and their loved ones. There are many steps along the way, from merely considering it while living at home to downsizing belongings and making the move official.
As with many major decisions, you and your loved ones need to carefully consider many factors as you embark on the senior living journey. To start, you’ll need to think about not only what type of plan you wish to follow but also what resources you’ll need.
Where Are You in Your Senior Living Journey?
The road to senior living can be difficult to travel at times. It can be helpful to think of the senior living journey as a series of three phases — research, reaching out, and refining your decision — with each phase containing different action steps.
The first important step in your journey to senior living is conducting research. There are many senior living communities out there, and it’s important to know what each one can offer you or the senior adult in your life. Some communities offer a wide range of services, whereas others specialize in specific types of care. You’ll also want to consider a few different factors in your research, such as what senior living option is needed, how much it will cost, which community will fit with your lifestyle, and so on.
This beginning phase also involves open communication between seniors and their families. If you’re looking for a community for a parent, take some time to speak with them and address any concerns or thoughts they may have about this big life decision. If you’re looking for yourself, be sure to keep your family in the loop and aware of your wishes and preferences.
2. Reach out.
Once you’ve done your research, it is time to reach out. Contact each community that meets your needs and schedule a tour. However, try not to schedule too many tours at a time, or you may get overwhelmed. You’ll want to have some sort of checklist to make notes about what each community can offer. Have a list of questions ready to go, and talk to the staff and other residents of the community about what to expect. Some communities also offer the opportunity to sample a meal or participate in an engaging activity or event.
After you’ve had a chance to tour the communities, review your notes. Eliminate any communities that don’t fit with your lifestyle, budget, or care needs. Once you narrow down your choices, schedule follow-up appointments and narrow your search even further until you are ready to reserve a spot in the perfect senior living community for you or your loved one.
3. Refine your decision.
In this final phase of the senior living journey, you’ve identified the best community and it is time to prepare for the big move. Coordinate with the senior living community to make sure important information such as emergency contact numbers, medical documents, and any legal documents are on file. Some communities have dedicated teams to help with moving and setting up rooms. They may also require you to abide by their move-in time frames.
What Should You Consider During Your Senior Living Journey?
The American Senior Housing Association (ASHA) recommends at least two important questions to consider when looking for senior living. We recommend adding a third question to the mix. Let’s look at them in more detail.
What senior living option do I really need?
The answer to this question largely depends on how well the senior adult can care for themselves. Many communities offer a wide range of living options for seniors depending on their independence and medical care needs.
Independent living is designed for seniors who don’t need help on a day-to-day basis. For those who need support with daily living activities, such as bathing and medication management, assisted living offers the right amount of support. Seniors who have memory issues, including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, can most benefit from a community that offers memory care services for residents. Consult with your doctor if you have questions about which senior living option is right for you.
What type of lifestyle do I want to live?
Everyone has their lifestyle preferences, and older adults are no exception. As you embark on the senior living journey, be sure to take a look at the services and amenities each community provides. For example, some communities offer educational services and classes for those keen to learn. Another important consideration is whether the community you choose will have support systems in place to accommodate your lifestyle choices.
How much can I afford?
This question can come before or after the previous two, but it is just as important. The type of senior living and the services and amenities offered should be factored into your budget. Check each community to determine how much their services will cost. What is included in the monthly fees? Additionally, research senior assistance programs that can help make senior living budget planning a little easier.
Once these questions are answered, families can begin the process of finding the best senior living community for their loved ones.
What Should You Do Next?
No matter where you are in the senior living journey, you’re never alone. There are numerous resources available to navigate the path — and some of these resources are at your fingertips. Download our guide, “The Journey to Senior Living: A Step-By-Step Guide for Families,” and get started on your unique senior living journey today.