The hunt for senior living
Last month we talked about having the "tough conversations" with family regarding senior living preferences (nursing home, assisted living, or independent living situation). This month we'd like to make things easier for you by giving you some tips about finding the right community for you.
Our 2014 "Strength in Aging" event featured an assisted living community resident and the communication director from Three Pillars Senior Living Communities, Kelsey Pangborn. The resident's story about how he and his wife decided on their "senior" home was especially meaningful. The couple had chosen an independent living situation that they were able to customize into just what they were looking for. Their situation allowed him to continue his love for gardening; and also provided access to rehabilitation facilities within the community. At the time of our event, his wife had just undergone surgery and was staying in a rehabilitation area that he was able to walk to each day, while still living in their home. You could hear the relief in his voice as he described their situation. When asked, his best advice was to start looking for a place early, when you are both healthy.
After our event, Kelsey Pangborn provided us the following list of QUESTIONS TO ASK when researching a community
1. What different types of living options do you provide? Are there different levels of care, different floor plans, and/or different locations?
2. If I moved in and my needs eventually changed, who has input about when a move should occur for me and how does that all work? Be sure you understand if there is a continuum and how it works.
3. What are the financial requirements? If I meet the requirements now, what happens if my finances run low in the future? What will be required of me at that time? The last thing you want is to be asked to move if finances ever run out. Try to find a place that will do everything in their power to allow you to stay.
4. What's included in the rent; and what could all the potential 'extras' cost? Get this all laid out up front so there are no surprises. Write it down or ask for it in writing so you can compare as you gather information about other communities.
5. What types of social and recreationalofferings are there?
Are there opportunities to volunteer, lead, or propose new offerings? Are there private areas to retreat to read a book on my own if I prefer? See how these offerings jive with your own preferences and lifestyle.
6. What about parking? Are there garages or surface parking spots available? Does this cost extra? This would also be a good time to ask about storage for any other 'toys' you may have like a boat, trailer, or extra vehicle.
7. Are there concierge or other personal assistance services available if I need help with making an appointment or locating a service in the community? If so, when are they available and what types of requests can I make of them?
If possible, ask to schedule a visit to the community back-to-back with a meal time and see if you can enjoy a meal there.9. What type of staff work in the apartment buildings? Ask to know more about them. It's important to know who is working in your potential new home. Pay attention to all staff members you meet if you take a visit. Look for friendly, happy employees.10. Is this a pet-friendly facility? How many people have pets; and do you see them out and about often? This may matter to you if you're an animal-lover or on the opposite end of the spectrum. If you are considering bringing a pet with you when you move, ask about any pet fees or deposits.11. What are the move-in and move-out criteria for the various levels of care or different apartment buildings? Are there any requirements (other than financial); and what are the processes for move-in and move-out?If you have any special medical needs or concerns, be sure to ask those up front to see if those needs can be met at this type of facility.12. What type of safety and security features are offered on this property? Are restrooms accessible? Are there grab bars in convenient locations? If not, is it possible to add them prior to move-in if necessary? Ask about security at the entrances and hours when doors are locked. Is there a designated staff member in charge of safety and security? Safety features can offer some major peace of mind, so be sure to ask about them.
13. What other types of 'bonus' amenities do you offer? Is there a fitness center, outdoor spaces, private dining rooms available by reservation, or any other special programs for residents?At Three Pillars, they focus on three principles: Lifestyle,Value, and Trust. As you wrap up your research on different senior living communities, we encourage you to look at those three concepts and most of all, trust your instincts.Does the community seem to offer options that fit with, support and enhance your lifestyle? Do you feel the community offers top-of-the line services and quality of life for a fair value? Lastly, does it feel like all these things are brought to you by people you can trust?
Do not compromise on these things. Moving to a senior living community is a huge life decision that is all about you. Best of luck on your search for a senior living community!
We would love to hear your questions and concerns as you consider your next home.