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How Do I Choose the Right Senior Living Option?

 Posted by David Osborne on October 11, 2021 at 8:50 AM

Choosing the right long-term care option is an important decision many older adults face daily. If a late-life move is part of your healthy aging plan, the next step is choosing a new place and preparing for what’s next. The hardest part for many people is getting started on choosing the right residence and planning for the move.

Understand Your Situation

If you are still undecided about your move that’s okay. Moving somewhere new can be a difficult decision at any age. If you are an older adult moving may have improve your quality of life, here are a few ways to tell it’s time:

  • You have health complications that are not suited for the current layout of your residence
  • The thought of caring for or paying for landscaping, cleaning multiple bedrooms, or other general upkeep tasks and costs seems stressful
  • Moving could save you money in retirement
  • Your home has lots of space that is never used

Understand Your Health

Before embarking on this journey, there are three important areas you will want to factor into any senior living decision with the support of your doctor or care team:

  • Medical Concerns
  • Cognitive Concerns
  • Assessment of functional abilities or “Activities of Daily Living”

Understand Your Options

After gathering all the information you need about you or a loved one’s medical condition, start the selection process by making sure everyone helping you make a decision understands the difference between each senior living option. Here are simple definitions to share for some of the senior living options you and your loved ones may be considering:

  • Retirement Communities: A housing option where community residence is specifically for people in a retirement age range and may include single-family homes, condos, townhomes or apartments modified for older adults needs.
  • Continuing-Care Retirement Communities: A campus-like community that offers different levels of care like independent living housing, assisted living, and skilled nursing care in one location. 
  • Skilled Nursing: A facility that provides a wide range of health and personal care services that typically includes medical and nursing care, social and mental health care, and rehabilitation services. 
  • Respite Care: An assisted living or skilled nursing facility that caters to short-term medical care for older adults and others recovering from surgery or a serious illness.
  • Assisted Living:  A housing option that provides support for Activities of Daily Living that typically includes transportation, meals or meal preparation, housekeeping, laundry, recreational and exercise activities. In some cases, these communities will help with care tasks like bathing, washing hair, or dressing if they become harder for a resident to do on their own.
  • Memory Care Facilities: A skilled nursing or assisted living community with larger staff that offers more supervision and security features designed specifically for people living with memory impairment.

Compare Your Options

Once you have a firm understanding of your options, asking the right questions can help you make an informed thoughtful decision. Use the questions below to help pinpoint what senior living option will be a good fit.

Do I have health conditions that require extensive care or minimal care?

If you or your family member has health complications that require a specific care plan or accessibility accommodations, it is important to factor this into your senior living selection process. This could be something as simple as moving to a space with a simpler layout or a wheelchair friendly entrance. Remember it’s better to understand what you need to make a decision you will enjoy.

Do I still have the ability to drive or would I prefer transportation is provided?

Driving is often associated with independence for some seniors. If you have physical limitations or take medications that make it unsafe or uncomfortable to drive, you will want to consider how that makes an impact on where you decide to live. Depending on the option you choose you will want to know the proximity to the grocery store, family members and friends, a community’s walkability, and transportation options.

Which option is the best choice for my social life?

Social interaction has been associated with health benefits like a sharper memory, increased physical and emotional health, and longevity for older adults. An integral part of quality of life is maintaining connections to those you love as well as maintaining friendships. As we age, it is easy to feel disconnected or out of touch. Strong social connections and interactions with family, neighbors, or other people you see regularly can help you or a loved one maintain quality of life while aging.  

Which option best fits into my financial plan and will accommodate future changes to my health?

Being realistic about your finances and creating a budget is a great step towards planning long-term care for your future. In many cases, budgets and savings have a limit for what is covered. It is important to include the possibility of being a resident in more than one senior living facility in your healthy aging plan. Making solid financial plans or creating a new financial plan could help you decide which move is the right decision for you now and how to prepare financially for health changes that may occur in the future. The National Institute on aging has detailed information on covering the costs of long-term care, you can read about here.

Consider Hiring a Move Manager

Moving can be both a physical and psychological process. From furniture pieces and photos that hold memories, to deciding what to purge, to the labor it takes to move each item, a plan can help simplify the moving process for anyone. Once you’ve decided on the right senior living option, it may be helpful to get expertise from an expert that specializes in late-life moves. Caring Transitions has Certified Relocation & Transition Specialist with specialty training in move management, senior relocation and senior transition services ready to help you. 

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