Seniors today are fortunate to have a variety of senior living options that far exceed the choices of generations before. However, along with these increased options come more decisions to make. How do you know if you are more likely to thrive in an assisted living community versus an independent living community? With just a bit of help from your doctor and some self-awareness, you can make sure that you are choosing the best level of care for your situation.
Why your level of care is important
Senior living communities offer services to different levels of care. These categories allow each community to specialize in serving a specific senior population with similar needs. When you live in a community that matches your level of care, you will have the opportunity to live more independently while simultaneously getting the assistance you need to stay as healthy as possible as you continue to enjoy your retirement years.
Which level of care may be best for you
There are a variety of levels of care, and some senior living communities serve more than one. You can begin your search for the best senior living community for you if you are aware of options available to you. Take a look at these different levels of care, along with a few statements of seniors who could live there. Consider marking any statements that apply to you to determine which level of care could be best for you.
I can complete my daily tasks, such as dressing and showering.
I love making friends and trying new things, but wish I could access these opportunities closer to home.
I can cook for myself, but would rather enjoy a nutritious meal in a nearby dining room with friends.
I feel lonely sometimes in my apartment and wish I had friends close by.
I feel nervous or unsafe when doing daily tasks like showering or going to the bathroom.
I don’t eat well at home on my own and would like to enjoy three healthy and delicious meals prepared by a chef.
I don’t like to manage my medication schedule and need someone to help me.
I use a mobility device, like a walker or wheelchair, and my home is not accessible to me any longer.
I have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia.
I am having difficulty remembering things and need guidance or direction to keep me making healthy decisions.
I am lonely and would like interaction with friends.
I have chronic or complex medical needs.
I am unable to complete daily tasks, like showering or dressing, without assistance from someone.
I need daily medical care or assistance, such as wound dressing changes or blood sugar testing.
What to do next
Now that you may have a better understanding of the best level of care for you, make an appointment with your doctor. It is valuable to seek advice from a medical professional who knows you and your medical conditions. Consider speaking to your family as well to assure that you are looking at a level of care that will meet your needs now and in the foreseeable future. Receiving multiple points of view can safeguard you from making a faulty decision and regretting your choice in a few months.
Now that you have your level of care nailed down, you can begin to search your neighborhood and town for communities that excel in serving that population. No matter what level of care you are searching for, be sure that you are asking questions during your tour about activities and dining. Aside from personal care, activities and dining can make or break your senior living experience.
In regards to activities, ask what types of events and opportunities are offered on-site and off-campus. Determine if these events are well attended by your potential neighbors and if there are offerings that sound interesting to you. The more engaged you become at your new community, the more benefits—new friends, decreased feelings of loneliness, and so on you will receive.
Dining is also a key component of the senior living experience. Eating meals with neighbors in a community dining room can increase socialization, as well as have health benefits for your body. Ask about specialized diets and what types of choice you will have for your meals should you decide to call that community home. You can even ask to attend a meal as a guest to rate the quality of the food.
During your time investigating senior living communities in your desired area, you may find a community that you love. Perhaps you already have friends who live here, or perhaps this community seems like a perfect fit for your lifestyle needs. In any case, if you find a community that you love and are not quite sure if your medical challenges fit within the levels of care they offer, don’t hesitate to ask. Senior living communities are well equipped with staff members that are ready to give you honest advice and guidance, and determining your level of care is something they are happy to do. Whether it includes an in-home assessment from one of the staff nurses or a general recommendation based on your time at the community, having a representative or care counselor from the senior community determine which level of care is right for you can be beneficial in the short and long term of your stay.
Knowing which level of care may work best for you can jump-start your senior living quest. Now that you are more educated about your options, you can be empowered to make your best choice. Your new home is out there waiting for you!