Choosing to move into an assisted living environment can be a huge step for any aging person. Naturally, you want to find a place where you can relax, be healthy, and enjoy your twilight years. Whether you’re looking for a senior living facility for yourself or for a loved one, there are several key considerations you need to make. A big decision like this can often seem scary, but by breaking it down and taking the process step-by-step, it’s a piece of cake.
An assisted living community or assisted living facility (ALF) is a housing facility for people with disabilities or for adults who cannot or who choose not to live independently.
Check out the article below, which gives an overview of some of the important topics and questions you should cover while touring retirement facilities (either in-person or virtually).
Levels of Service
One of the primary reasons people choose senior living is the assistance in performing everyday tasks and help and advice in terms of healthcare. However, you may also be looking for additional support. There are several available options to consider, which are outlined below:
- Independent Living – the most basic form of care caters to seniors who require little to no assistance. Someone living with this level of support will have access to several great facilities on a sheltered site, alongside a community of other residents for added social interaction.
- Assisted Living – The first step up, assisted living still allows you to live independently while providing help with tasks such as dressing, washing, going to the toilet, and taking medication. Common features include a team of dedicated support staff, 24-hour emergency assistance, communal areas, and your own self-contained residence, allowing you to socialize while remaining independent.
- Memory Care – other options, like memory care, provide specific healthcare for conditions associated with old age (Alzheimer’s, in this case). It is designed to offer a safe, controlled routine so you can live comfortably. There are also trained staff on-hand to deal with the common unique to patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Many facilities offer a combination of different options. For example, San Jose assisted living facilities can provide both assisted living and award-winning memory care, meaning you can receive the level of support that you need. Perhaps you require access to rehabilitation or specialized nursing? It is important to check that the place you’re looking at can offer these services. Speak to staff, who are likely to give you an honest answer – if you need specialized care that a particular facility cannot offer, look elsewhere. It’s better to spend a little more time searching than to settle for inadequate support.
Once you’ve ensured you will be well looked after, consideration should be made to the on-site facilities. Remember, this place is going to be your home, so you need to be satisfied with what’s on offer. Most assisted living homes will provide opportunities to go out to eat, see a movie, do some painting, etc. They could contain on-site restaurants, social spaces, or even games facilities. Depending on your personal preferences, you should be able to find a place with suitable entertainment. What about additional amenities, like transportation services and community events?
You should also take into account the location – will you be close enough to friends and family? Are you searching for a peaceful, rural setting or perhaps a busier area? The choice is yours.
A Sense of Community
One of the best things about assisted living is the sense of community you get from living with other seniors. You have no need to feel alone, as there are plenty of other people just like you to make friends with. Most facilities will have regular events and entertainment scheduled which can help you engage with your new community – you can even invite family members to join in the fun.
Another important point to consider is diversity and inclusivity – many seniors thrive in an environment where they feel included and welcomed. Ask staff and other residents about their experiences, to get a sense of the type of place you’re walking into.
Reviews and Accreditation
No matter what questions you have, there will be someone who knows the answer. You should talk to residents and staff to get their honest reviews of the facility. Family members and friends of a similar age can also give their advice on the decision-making process, even if they don’t have direct experience with a particular facility. Again, talking with staff can be useful in gaining a different perspective. One thing to bring up, in particular, is retention rates – high turnover in residents could be a sign of hidden issues.
Finally, people often forget that licensed senior living communities do not need to be accredited, according to federal and state rules. However, many of the best options will have gone through the accreditation process to demonstrate their quality of care. This should be something to consider.
Considering the Cost
The cost of assisted living is often one of the biggest obstacles when choosing a facility, especially as it is not covered by Medicare in most cases. According to a 2020 survey, the average cost of senior living is $4,300 per month (coming to $51,600 annually), putting considerable financial pressure on an aging person or their family. However, there are ways around it, with a variety of different ways to pay and deductions, tax credits, and price flexibility.
Most families use private funds, like personal savings, pensions, and retirement accounts to finance assisted living. However, you can also consider selling or renting your current home, reverse mortgaging, or getting a bridge loan for the short term. Whatever you choose to do, it’s imperative to have a long-term plan before committing to your new residence.
You’ll need to ask the right questions, making sure you have all the information on hand to help you make an informed decision. What is your staff-to-resident ratio? Is the food prepared daily? And most importantly, can you actually see yourself living there happily? If all your boxes are ticked, then great! It’s time to kick back and enjoy the benefits of assisted living.
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