You’ve decided that it is the right time for a Senior Living Community. How do you find the “perfect” Community to fit your lifestyle?
First things first, you’ll want to start your research to make sure you learn everything you can in order to make an informed decision. Finding a community that will fulfill your wants and needs now is important, but a community that will also meet your needs in the future should be top of mind. The ultimate goal is to create a life rich with opportunities in the present and have peace of mind when considering future needs.
Most people have never been through this process before and it can be a little intimidating. Knowing which questions to ask during your initial phone call, what to look for when you tour, and how to compare one community with another will help you feel more confident. Here is a checklist and some helpful tips to make your search more successful.
Senior Living Community Checklist
1. Make a ‘must have’ list. It is a good idea to have your priorities set and in writing before visiting or taking virtual tours of communities, as it is easy to become distracted by attractive interior design and various amenities. Many senior living communities have invested big money on décor so try to keep your priorities top of mind. Do you have a four-legged companion moving with you? Are you looking for an indoor pool or onsite wellness program? Do you want to be close to an adult child? Is it paramount to specifically be in a Life Care community that offers all levels of care? What about on-site rehabilitation options? Give careful consideration to what your priorities are and write them down. Keep these in mind throughout your search.
2. Research online reviews and results. Luckily finding inspection results online is relatively easy for licensed communities that are regulated at the state level. For example, assisted living communities are routinely assessed for compliance with state regulations. If you can’t find this information online, ask your Sales Counselor to provide you with a copy to review.
3. Get feedback. Certainly, ask around and get feedback from people you know and respect; friends, colleagues, doctors, and even your religious leader. People who have been through this process and have knowledge of local communities can provide suggestions from a resident or family member’s perspective.
4. Consider location. Though location isn’t necessarily your primary concern, it does play an important role and should be considered. Would you prefer to be closer to an old neighborhood and your friends there? Or would you rather move closer to adult children or grandchildren? It’s also important to consider other factors, such as how easy it is to access health care services or retail shopping centers.
5. Compare communities. Senior living communities can vary greatly in terms of services, amenities, and pricing. Compare rental communities versus Life Care communities. It’s important to recognize that not every community offers the things that are important to you. Asking these questions can help you decide:
- Do they have any apartments or suites available in your desired time frame? If not, when do they expect an opening? Inquire about a wait list. It is common for communities to offer a waiting list option so you can end up with the exact apartment/ floor plan you desire.
- Ask what services, care, and amenities are included in the base monthly price. This is another place where you’ll find wide variance from one community to another. Make sure you factor this into your decision and anticipated monthly fee.
- Review your original priority list. How does each community stack up to your list? Would you be forced to make some compromises if you chose a particular community?
6. Involve someone you value for support. Moving to a senior living community is a big decision and can be an overwhelming one for some. Support from a family member, friend, neighbor, financial advisor, church leader, or care manager can provide peace of mind, allowing you to focus. Also, your supportive person can be an extra set of ears and a sound board throughout the process as there is a lot of information to process, especially when membership programs and Life Care contracts are involved.
7. Explore and experience the community. An important step in making an informed decision is to visit each senior community. In a Life Care community, be sure to explore all levels of care within the community. If you are not comfortable quite yet due to Covid-19, take a virtual tour to get a visual. Remember to take detailed notes and have a list of questions to ask when you are ready to contact a Sales Counselor. Here are a couple of items to consider and a few questions to ask during your personal or virtual tour:
- What is the surrounding neighborhood like? Is it safe?
- Do staff members and residents seem engaged with one another?
- Are meals and housekeeping included?
- Are formal or informal life enrichment activities taking place? (This may be altered due to coronavirus concerns.)
- Is there move-in assistance? What does that process look like?
- How are potential team members hired and screened?
- What is the staffing ratio?
- What is the average length of staff tenure?
- Are you required to sign a long-term contract?
8. Visit again and again. Now it’s time to review your notes and narrow down your list of potential communities. It’s likely you’ll have some unanswered questions that merit a few follow up phone calls, and you should call as many times as needed. Once you’ve arrived at a decision, plan to visit one final time. Maybe during an evening or weekend. This can provide a glimpse into what goes on when management isn’t present.
If you aren’t sure what type of care you need, take a look at our Resource Blog article outlining the differences in levels of care. As always, our friendly and knowledgeable Sales Counselors can be reached at 727-464-1750, or if you prefer email, email@example.com.