Researching and Selecting a Senior Living Facility: Key Considerations

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Finding the right senior living home for an aging parent or loved one is a daunting task, particularly if mom or dad is reluctant to move. There are many reasons why an aging parent may be hesitant to accept the idea of a move to senior living:

  • They feel they are too young for senior living.
  • The idea of downsizing is too overwhelming.
  • They’re not ready to give up their independence.

Each of these potential roadblocks should be addressed in the search by finding a facility that meets not only your parent’s care needs, but his emotional and social needs as well. Fortunately, there are a variety of types of senior living communities designed to accommodate seniors and retirees at the different stages of life.

  • Independent living: Residents have private apartments and are in charge of their own schedules and care.
  • Retirement communities: Geared towards the 55-plus age bracket, retirement communities offer independent apartments or free-standing homes. Residents have access to amenities on the campus, such as fitness centers and swimming pools, and maintain complete control over their medical and social needs.
  • Care homes: Ideal for seniors requiring some assistance with care, but who aren’t ready for institutional living.
  • Assisted living: Staff are on hand 24-7 to provide assistance with personal care needs, and while activities are typically offered, residents may choose whether to participate and can also maintain an outside social life.
  • Nursing homes: The highest level of senior living, nursing homes offer 24-7 medical care and are designed for seniors who need more than assistance with activities of daily living.
  • Memory care faciltiies: Designed for seniors with memory impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease, memory care facilities operate much like an assisted living facility with specialized activities designed for cognitive benefit.

So where to begin?

With the many options available, knowing where to start is often the most challenging step. Answering a few key questions can help you determine which type of care is best for your loved one, so you can narrow your search to the senior living communities that are the best fit.

  1. How much care does your loved one need? Is he able to perform activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, etc.) without assistance? Does your loved one require constant supervision or have advanced medical needs?
  2. How will you pay for senior housing? Does your loved one have Medicare or Medicaid? Not every facility accepts these sources of payment, so this will be important in making your decision.
  3. How active is your loved one’s social life? Will she prefer to go on frequent outings and participate in facility activities?

Armed with this information, you should now have an idea of what type of senior living community is best for your loved one. At this point, you can contact facilities in your loved one’s area (or desired area, if she plans to move to be closer to family). It’s important to engage the admissions representative on the phone and ask plenty of questions before setting up a tour of the facility. Asking questions such as accepted payment sources, care provided, and activities offered will help you narrow your list.

If your loved one is able to get around easily, you should take him on facility tours with you. It’s wise to tour at least four to five facilities to form a basis for comparison. When you schedule a tour, arrive armed with a detailed list of questions to help uncover information that may not be obvious. The following checklists are a good starting point:

Sometimes, families just know when they’ve found the right senior living home for an aging loved one because it just feels right. In other cases, it may come down to choosing between two or three facilities that each meet your loved one’s needs. Making a list of pros and cons for comparison can help with this last stage in the process. But remember, at the end of the day, it’s about your loved one being healthy, happy and comfortable – so keep both physical and emotional/social needs in mind throughout the process.

SeniorHomes.com is a free resource for people looking for a for a loved one or themselves. We provide rich information about the options available in someone’s local market as well as great content to help them through their decisions. 

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About LoveBeingRetired

Dave Bernard is a California born and raised author and blogger with an extensive 30 year career in Silicon Valley. He has written more than 300 blogs for US News & World On Retirement and his personal blog Retirement – Only the Beginning. He has authored three books: "Are you just existing and calling it a life?"; "I want to retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be"; and " Navigating the Retirement Jungle". Dave was also a contributing writer for the books 65 Things to do when you Retire (“Positive Aging – Old is the New Young”) as well as 65 Things to do when you Retire – TRAVEL (“Travel to Discover your Family Heritage”). He lives in sunny California with his wife, his Boston Terrier "Frank" and a passion for the San Jose Sharks.