Today’s seniors have many choices when it comes to where they can live. While some people may want to stay in their own home and age in place, others may want options that offer a little or a lot of assistance as needed. From finding an independent lifestyle with minimal help with chores and meals, to a full-fledged assisted living community, the options are endless. How do you choose the best place to live for your lifestyle and your budget? Read on to discover some helpful tips and tricks when it comes to senior living options.
The statistics do bear out what most of us already know about aging: almost 70 percent of people over age 65 will need some form of long-term care according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The type and level of care will differ for every person, but it’s always good to be prepared for this eventuality as we age. Here are some of the predominant styles of senior living:
- Independent senior living. These facilities are great if you are in good health overall and just want to do away with the responsibility of home ownership. Often, they are set up as townhomes, duplexes, fourplexes, or single-story apartments.
- Assisted senior living. These types of facilities are helpful if you start to feel that you need a little more assistance with your activities of daily living such as managing your medications, getting dressed, or need assistance with getting in and out of the bath.
- Skilled nursing care. These facilities are typically known as nursing homes and are reserved for those seniors who need more full-time skilled nursing care. They provide around-the-clock medical care to their residents.
- Continuing Care Retirement Community. The CCRC is a newer concept that provides the full spectrum of care within the same community. These are a great (but somewhat pricey) option for seniors who still want to enjoy their independence but may need additional levels of care down the road. In a CCRC, you can transition from one level to another without having to move to an entirely new facility.
Given the range of options, it’s important first to evaluate what you need most in a senior living community. This may take a conversation with your spouse or children, or it may need to involve your healthcare providers. Making a specific list of your wants and needs is helpful. In addition to making these lists, you also need to decide what locations would work best for you. Do you want to stay close to family or friends? Are you looking for a spot that is convenient for your medical appointments? These qualities matter when you are deciding on the right location.
Another tip for those who are looking for the more active and independent side of community living is to be sure to check out each facility’s offerings in terms of activities, events, and amenities. Does the facility offer group meals, games, or other types of activities that you would enjoy participating in? Do they offer transportation services or daily assistance with medication? Find out all you can about a community through their website, social media, and asking around for recommendations. Call each community and ask questions before you schedule a tour of the place – this will eliminate those places that don’t offer what you need and want in a community.
Regardless of your style of living, one useful tip for any senior is to have a life alert system, a device worn as a necklace or bracelet that can immediately contact emergency services if you should fall or have an emergency health issue, such as a heart attack or stroke. Some models also provide fall detection and prevention features as well as GPS tracking in case your family members need to find your current location (helpful for those seniors who have a tendency to wander off). The upside to having one of these systems is that you can have the peace of mind of immediately calling for an ambulance instead of waiting for someone to show up and assist you. Research the medical alert system reviews to find one that is right for you and your peace of mind. Whether you are living alone or in a community, wearable assist devices are increasingly a must-have for any senior.
The bottom line to finding the best place to live is true whether you are looking for a senior living community or your first apartment: plan on diligent research, ask all your questions, and educate yourself on each of the options before making a decision. It is also a good idea to have a family member or attorney look over any contract. Elder law can be complex, especially with related real estate to make disposition for, and senior living communities often have complicated and long documents that you will need to read carefully. Make sure someone else takes a look at all contracts before you sign anything. If you keep all these tips and tricks in mind during your search, you should find the perfect senior living community for you or a loved one.