Your parent or loved on is getting older. Now is the time to discuss the possibility of assisted living with family members. One of the most difficult decisions a family faces is when to move an elderly family member into specialized housing.
How to start the search can be overwhelming, but if you follow certain steps, the search can be more manageable.
One of the first questions you must answer is what kind of care your family member needs.
There are essentially four different levels of care offered by senior living communities, and it’s important to understand what each offers.
Independent living is for seniors who don’t require assistance. Independent living is usually offered in either apartment or cottage settings and generally includes meals, housekeeping and social events.
Assisted living is for seniors needing assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and eating.
Memory support/dementia care is for seniors with cognitive decline because of Alzheimer’s or other diseases.
Skilled nursing care is for seniors in the end stage of life who require care 24 hours a day.
In addition, there are senior living communities and assisted living homes that offer multiple levels of care on the same campus in what is called a continuing care retirement community.
A senior living community will want to assess your loved one’s needs before they move in because one of the most difficult things for family members is to be objective about is the condition that their parents are in.
Here are other steps you should folllow in choosing the correct senior housing:
Start early. Even if you think you won’t need senior care for a long time, learning about local communities and their pricing and amenities can make it easier when you decide to move you loved one. Also, there are advantages to moving into senior housing before there’s a crisis.
Visit the communities. This is critical. There’s no better way to get to know a community than spending time there. When you visit, use your senses: sight, smell and hearing.
Also, notice whether residents are clean and how the staff interacts with them. Do they treat them with respect and kindness?
Vary your visits. Visit the place at least twice. If you visit on a weekend, you will get an idea of how the place operates without a lot of management staff there. If you visit during a meal, you will see more of the people who actually live there. You will notice if the staff is very helpful.
When you visit, talk with the families of residents to get their insights.
Understand the costs. Some assisted living communities charge a monthly fee that includes things such as bathing, dressing and dispensing medication, while others charge a base fee and charge extra for “however much care you need.” That may include having meals brought to your home or getting assistance to get to the dining room.
Determine which fee structure best fits your needs and budget. You should also ask: How does the community decide on increases in monthly fees? Does it cap yearly increases?
Ask about health care. Be sure to inquire about how the senior living community will handle your loved one’s medical needs. What hospital will you go to if they call 911.
Are your loved one’s doctors and hospitals within the range of the senior community’s transportation services?
The bottom line is to trust your instincts when deciding on a place for your family member. And never move your loved one into a place that makes you uneasy or doesn’t feel safe.
For more information, contact Spring Arbor.