Let’s face it. Choosing from one of the retirement homes for your parents is no small decision. It demands a lot of thought and research. The list of things to consider and the questions to ask can be overwhelming for anyone.
And, even though the process may not be easy, it’s not entirely insurmountable either. Especially when you know exactly which elements to consider to find the best living arrangements for your loved ones.
With that said, here’s a list of top things to consider during your search –
Most of the time, if not always, the older folks plan on living nearby their family and friends so that regular visits are convenient.
However, the convenience of being near your loved one is not the only reason you should be considerate of location. Due to different laws in different states, the number of facilities, amenities, and nature of operation can also differ.
For instance, in some states there’s a limitation on the amount of medical assistance residents can receive. Clearly, if your parents need a lot of supervision and significant medical care, you should look into the relevant state.
If they are rather independent, then probably any state will do.
Type of Community
Senior living and retirement communities can be of different kinds. Some communities only offer basic care and focus more on quality of living and socialization.
Others offer more comprehensive medical care. Then, there are memory care facilities that are designed to handle memory issues like Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
It’s important to think about your parents’ present and future needs. You should also pick a community that best matches your preferred lifestyle expectations.
Level of Service
Seniors have different levels of needs, as we already discussed. There are also differences in the degree of service provided and the level of caregiver training in different communities.
Perhaps your senior will be happier in an independent living community. Maybe assisted living will be more suited to their needs.
What about at-home or skilled nursing care? Do they need special care for any medical issue such as Diabetes or Dementia?
Think realistically about their current medical condition and the level of service they would be comfortable with.
If your seniors are regular flyers or travelers, you should aim for a community that has the least amount of restrictions on travel. You should go with one that has easy access to transportation such as those near train stations and airports. This will make traveling and regular flying a lot easier.
Some communities even encourage residents to travel and offer adequate transportation to major travel hubs.
Different communities have different ways of financing. And, whether you like it or not, the cost is often the #1 factor that controls where you wind up sending your parents. Think about what you can realistically afford.
Also, look into options like veteran’s benefits, pension plans, insurances, Medicaid, etc. You should also know that not all communities accept Medicaid. Other than that, look at the payment mode as well l; whether it’s a monthly fee or in the form of a huge down payment.
Access to Entertainment
You don’t want your parents to live a boring, unsocial life as that would make their days harder. So, a big part of choosing a community is to look at their social activities and entertainment calendar. Do they host regular social events?
Are there singing or dance classes? What about fitness? Is there a swimming pool or health classes to keep the folks healthy?
Transition to Higher Care
Some facilities are part of a larger continuing care community. The idea is to help residents make an easier and smoother transition as they grow older and their demand for medical supervision increases.
Instead of constantly looking at different options for more advanced care every couple of years, your folks can transition within the facility to higher care. So, think about where your parents might be in a year or two, health-wise.
Are Pets Allowed?
A growing number of communities are acknowledging the benefits of having a pet around for seniors’ health.
If your parents have a four-legged friend that cannot part with them, you should probably search for a facility that allows residents to live with animals/pets.
What’s Community Culture Like?
Community culture is not something you can describe in words. It’s often the feel of the place? How do you tell whether the community culture is good? Your best bet is to visit the facility and talk to the residents.
Talk to the staff, have a meal, have a tour of the facility, and observe the environment? Do you sense a feel-good vibe? Often going online and reading a bunch of reviews will tell you more than enough about the culture of the facility.
What’s the staff-to-resident ratio like? Are there enough staff members to attend to the needs of residents without compromising on the quality of care?
Other than focusing solely on ratio, also think about the quality of staff interaction. Are they warm and nice to talk to? Do they seem friendly and call residents by their name? The quality of staff speaks a lot about the community’s philosophy.
Choice and Independence
Often moving to a retirement community means giving up on freedom, choices, and decision-making. This can be scary for a lot of older folks. Therefore, it’s good to think about the amount of choice and independence your parents can still exercise once they have moved.
For example, things like choosing the sleep and wake-up time, choosing what they can eat, or activities they can participate in makes a ton of difference.
As long as your parents are mentally healthy, having this sense of choice and freedom can be a great thing for their well-being. It’s good to not have your every move monitored and controlled all the time.
Now that you all know the major considerations and factors that go into picking a senior living community for your folks, you should have no trouble picking the right facility.