Choosing a senior living community can be an overwhelming process. Whether you are looking for yourself or a loved one or whether you are planning for the immediate or distant future, these five steps will get you started on the right track.
1. Determine the level of care
Make a checklist of everything you need from a community in terms of assisted services. This list may include meal preparation, bathing, medication management, housekeeping and/or transportation. This step is important because it will help you narrow down the type of community and level of care you need. Keep in mind any current health issues as well as future concerns – it’s important to plan for today and tomorrow.
2. Set your budget
Take a careful look at your finances and know what you are comfortable spending each month. Remember that many of your current expenses, such as taxes, utilities and maintenance of your yard and home, are likely included in the monthly rent at a community. Also keep in mind other financial resources that may be available to you, such as long-term care insurance or the Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension which is available to veterans and their surviving spouses in need of assisted living.
3. Niceties vs. necessities
Think about what you are looking for in regards to amenities and desires. Then make two lists – first, your “must- haves” which should include whatever is non-negotiable in making this move. Perhaps it’s important for you to stay close to your current neighborhood or that the community is pet friendly. Next, make a wish list of those things you hope to find in a community, such as a fitness center, gardening space or restaurant-style dining. These are items that you’d like to have, but are willing to live without.
4. Do your research
Now that you’ve determined the level of care needed, created your checklists and set your budget, you are ready to start reaching out to communities! Make a list of communities that meet your criteria, prepare your questions and make preliminary contact by phone or email. This will help you narrow your list down and determine which communities you’d like to visit in person.
5. Schedule a tour (or two)
In-person visits are extremely important when it comes to making an informed decision. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take careful notes. Consider asking a friend or family member to join you. When you arrive, are you greeted promptly? Do the staff take time to get to know you so they can best meet your needs? Does it feel like a place you could call home?
Remember, the search for senior living is a process – take your time, remember that this is your decision and feel empowered by the fact that you are in control of your future.