We want our parents to feel happy, safe and fulfilled throughout their lives, just as they made us feel. But there may come a time when we can no longer care for them in the way they deserve. Assisted living is a great option for older adults who want to stay independent as long as possible but who also need help with certain daily tasks.
Choosing the right assisted living community can feel overwhelming at first. But the more you know what’s involved, the easier it can become. Here are some steps to help you move from feeling overwhelmed to empowered.
Open communication is the key to this journey. The more involved your parents are in this decision, the better. It’s not an easy conversation to initiate, so it’s important you do it with empathy and sensitivity. Follow these tips for having a productive conversation with your parents.
Establish your budget.
Determine how much can be spent on senior living monthly. Remember that many typical homeowner fees such as utilities and taxes will be included. Look into all the financing options and available resources that can help you and your family.
Identify where help is needed.
Make a list of the help your parent will need (e.g. help with medication reminders, bathing, getting dressed). Be proactive about anticipating current and future needs. This will come in handy when exploring different assisted living communities.
Think about location.
Is it important to stay close to the current neighborhood? Is walkability a factor? What does the surrounding community offer for aging seniors? Think about things like proximity to medical care, shopping, banks, grocery stores, and everyday necessities.
Determine your must-haves.
What are the non-negotiable services and amenities? Things like a fitness center, proximity to doctor’s offices, housekeeping, proximity to favorite grocery store, etc. should all be considered.
Do your research.
Scour websites and social media sites for each community you are considering. Don’t forget to look at resources that provide consumer reviews.
Visit. And ask lots of questions.
There is no substitute for an in-person visit. Look for things like how residents and staff interact, safety features, cleanliness, and staff friendliness and knowledge. Ask a lot of questions. The AARP offers a handy checklist of questions to ask during your visits. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of communities, visit the property again, especially on weekends when senior management isn’t on site.
Take your time.
Making a decision too quickly can be tempting, but this one you want to get right the first time. Try to visit at least three communities before making a choice so you can weigh all your options.