As noted in an earlier Sixty and Me blog on senior living, your health status may be the deciding factor in the location for your next move.
After getting input from trusted medical professionals and your family, think about what you’ll need in a living situation to provide the best support for your healthcare priorities.
There is a range of alternatives:
Independent living usually means an arrangement for those with the least need for healthcare support. Typical examples are:
People choose independent living as a senior housing option for several reasons:
These communities are designed for senior accessibility to promote greater convenience and safety. Also, chores such as home maintenance and yard work are handled by the facility. While units will typically have their own kitchens, some have communal dining options.
Many communities feature a wide variety of social activities for residents both on the property and excursions in the local area.
Connecting with others is important for all ages but especially for seniors. The opportunities to meet others of a similar age and circumstances becomes a highlight of a senior living community.
Depending on the community, healthcare services may be available.
A 2021 AARP study noted that 77% of seniors want to “age in place” in their homes. Healthcare services delivered at home can facilitate this. Studies have found that home healthcare to be an effective and less expensive way to support senior health. It can take the form not only of medical services but also assistance with daily activities, housework or transportation.
Some choose to live with family rather than going it alone or moving to a senior community. However, as we age, our needs increase and our family caregivers get overwhelmed by their responsibilities. Adult daycare provides older adults with higher level needs to spend time in a safe, supportive atmosphere with other seniors. Adult daycare services may offer a variety of services including stimulating activities, social interaction, medical support and even dementia care.
Assisted living provides housing, social interaction, help with daily activities and medical support. Also, most include meals and housekeeping/laundry. Housing options are private apartments, private rooms or shared quarters. The best examples of assisted living providers promote resident independence in a home-like atmosphere. Some facilities offer “enhanced” assisted living which includes higher levels of medical support.
A higher level of medical support is provided by skilled nursing care (SNC) facilities. SNC services can be short- or long-term. Patients recovering and rehabilitating after a hospital stay often will be short-term. Those with chronic conditions requiring around-the-clock medical attention fall into the long-term category.
Dedicated memory care facilities are designed to support dementia sufferers who can no longer live safely in the community. Amenities can include meals, medical services, assistance with daily activities, location alert systems, housekeeping/laundry, and social/recreational activities. In some cases, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities offer memory care in specially designed areas of their buildings.
Once you’ve decided on a type of senior living, what’s the next step? Below are some general guidelines for making a list of possible facilities and how to evaluate the options.
An internet search is the easiest way to find possible options about a senior living type. Also, ask friends and trusted professionals like doctors or attorneys for their recommendations.
After making a list of 3 to 5 top options, call the person in charge of admissions at each for more information.
Next, arrange facility tours. In the case of home healthcare, this entails a home visit by the home healthcare agency. In all instances, the prospective resident/client should be an active participant to make sure the future transition to senior care goes smoothly.
How close is the facility to the homes of loved ones? Is the neighborhood safe with stores and services nearby? Is it in a quiet area or a noisy, bustling location?
Is there enough parking for visitors? Is the building well-maintained. Are there comfortable and safe spaces outside the building for sitting or walking?
What about the interior spaces? Does the lobby feel cheerful? Do the common areas look clean and well lit? Are there safety measures like handrails in the hallways, grab bars in bathrooms and non-slip floors? Are there any unpleasant smells?
Do the living quarters look clean and well-maintained? Do they feel roomy? Are there amenities such as kitchenettes, closets and bathrooms.
When touring, look to see if the residents appear clean, well-groomed, happy and comfortable? Are they socializing?
Does the staff look professional, friendly and knowledgeable? Be sure to ask about staffing levels and the plan for the staff to communicate with the resident’s/client’s family.
All senior facilities and home healthcare agencies have policies that are crucial to understand so make sure to get a complete list of policies as soon as possible.
Care plans define the details about care to be delivered to each resident/client. Get a sample care plan so you know what it includes.
Contracts need to be signed before services begin. Carefully review all documents so you know the financial and policy implications of service delivery.
Services will be paid for by insurance, out-of-pocket or a combination of the two. Some people run out of money and are compelled to switch to Medicaid insurance. Make sure you understand the details of how that coverage transfer works.
The resident’s/client’s health is a major objective of any senior living arrangement so knowing how health services will be delivered is important.
What are the dining alternatives at the facility? For home healthcare and adult daycare, there may be a meal option, also. Ask for meal samples to judge food quality.
Any senior living experience should include stimulating activities. Ask for samples of activity schedules.
What are the transportation options at the facility? For home healthcare, is transportation to the store or doctor appointments available? If so, is transportation an extra cost, and are drivers fully trained and insured?
It’s crucial to evaluate all facets of a senior living arrangement. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and collect as much information as you can. Ultimately, the final choice needs to feel comfortable for the resident/client and family.
Have you considered moving to a new home? What type of home are you looking for? Would certain facilities/amenities/services be crucial to your choice?
Tags Downsizing Your Life