By: Darleen Mahoney
Its time to start searching for senior housing, but where to begin? The senior housing landscape can be very confusing for seniors, their family and caregivers alike.
Whether you are looking because your curious for future planning or have a specific situation or need, its important to keep it simple. Jot down a few simple steps and check those boxes until you narrow down a senior living community or facility that best suits your needs and will point you in the right direction.
Step 1: Know what you need– This may sound simple, but is it? Make a list of services, support with both long and short-term goals, including what your future needs may look like. Is there a need to maintain independence or a focus on additional help such as medication management, bathing and dressing, and safety? Knowing these things will help in budgeting and senior housing options.
Step 2: Budget– Establish a budget. Knowing how much you can spend each month on senior living may narrow your options as many communities and facilities price points have a very wide range. Keep in mind, many current expenses can be included in monthly senior housing fees-taxes, utilities, and meals. If your budget is tight, there may be financial resources to help.
Step 3: Location! Location! Location! – Where do you want to live and why is it important to you? Do you want to be close to family, medical centers, or are you looking to move to a new destination in your retirement years?
Step 4: Must Have Lists– Make a list of what is non-negotiable in a senior communities’ amenities or options for your move? Do you want a pet friendly community, wellness programs, activities with travel options? It would be beneficial to make a list of items that would be everything that you would hope to have available, but not necessarily “deal breakers”, such as restaurant style dining, fitness center, pool, wine nights with your neighbors.
Step 5: Visit a Senior Living Website– Searching online for a senior living community in your desired location and specific needs will allow you to view multiple communities at one time; bookmark them, visit their listing pages, websites, and social media pages. The key is to visit trusted senior housing websites such as SeniorLivingGuide.com which allows you to connect directly with each community and not any type of broker.
Step 6: Read Reviews– Make sure that you visit multiple review sites online
Step 7: Social Media– Visit each senior living communities Facebook page. You should see pictures of activities, residents, and how the staff is interacting with the residents. This is also a good opportunity to see if they are showcasing any dining options, organized outings, or long-term resident highlighted posts. Don’t forget to read the comments.
Step 8: Ask Around– Once you are starting to narrow down a community that fits your needs, ask around to see if you can get any feedback from trusted sources you are familiar with.
Step 9: Contact Your Senior Community List– After you have narrowed down your list of communities that you are interested in, make a short list of questions and call each one asking for the marketing department. If you feel comfortable with their answers, then schedule a visit.
Step 10: Visit Your Senior Community List– This is where you can really start to narrow down your search. Make sure that you look for resident and staff interaction, general vibe and feeling in the community. Are the residents engaging with each other, with the staff? Are they sitting by themselves in a corner? Check out all the safety issues that are important such as handrails, emergency call systems, slip guards in the bathtub. Is the community clean? The biggest question you need to ask yourself, can you see yourself living there?
Step 11: Consult an Attorney– Seeking professional advice from an Elder Law Attorney to review your Senior Community contract as well as seeking help with additional financial help such as Veterans Aid and Attendance and/or Medicaid may be beneficial.
Following these steps will help make the search for the senior housing solution that will best fit your health, lifestyle, and future.