Independent Living Community - three words that inspire seniors to consider a lifestyle free from worries of home maintenance, housekeeping, and cooking. Independent Living communities are designed to help older adults maintain their independence while recognizing that they are aging.
Navigating the maze of senior communities can be difficult and time consuming. The decisions of if, when and where are important life altering decisions in a seniors life. Selecting a location within the budget that offers the level of care is important in selecting a community.
Independent Living comes in many forms ranging from 55+ apartment communities to villa homes on the campus of a retirement village or Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).
The focus for seniors desiring independent living is often on lifestyle, security and peace of mind. This senior living option is for those who are able to perform their own basic activities of daily living (such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring) and need little or no medical assistance.
Seniors 55+ looking for a lifestyle free from the worries of home maintenance, housekeeping, meal preparation and transportation are amenities offered at most of the Independent Living communities. The need for security often motivates a move to independent living.
Once the decision is made to move into an Independent Living community, the next option is to tour. And, to tour using all your senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.
SeniorLiving.net offers valuable advice for seniors looking for a community:
EVALUATE A SENIOR CARE COMMUNITY ON MORE THAN JUST APPEARANCE
Pretty buildings don’t always translate to good care. Likewise, older buildings sometimes have tenured, dedicated staff and great care. When you are touring a community, pay more attention to the residents and to the staff instead of how pretty and new the building is.
• Are residents clean and well cared for?
• Does the staff seem involved with the residents?
• Are residents engaged in activities and with the staff?
• Does there seem to be enough staff?
• Are there pervasive odors? Are call lights going off for long periods of time?
These are the items that are the true measure of a good care community.
VISIT A SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITY MULTIPLE TIMES
Weekdays are when care communities are best staffed and a lot of management is around to supervise. Once you have narrowed your choice down to one or two communities, visit after hours and on weekends.
• What happens in the late evenings or on weekends?
• Is there enough staff?
• Are call lights answered promptly?
• Do residents still seem engaged and well cared for?
Be sure you are as happy with the after hours and weekend feel of a community as you are with their weekday face.
ASK PLENTY OF QUESTIONS
Ask as many questions as you need to get a real answer. Some communities spend a lot of money on sales training for the staff and have come up with some “non-answers” to important questions. For example, ask what their staff-to-resident ratio is. If they answer with something like “We staff according to acuity,” ask a follow-up. “How many caregivers does that mean exactly?” This is an important decision for you and your family. You need to feel like the answers to the questions you ask are giving you the peace of mind you need to make a good decision.
IF POSSIBLE, ADJUST YOUR BUDGET ACCORDINGLY
That isn’t easy to do when you look at how much senior living costs. But a few hundred dollars a month can sometimes mean the difference between marginal care and quality care.
TAKE YOUR TIME MAKING A DECISION
Know when you start this process that it isn’t a fast one. Give yourself time to tour communities on various days and times, follow up with questions, and extra time to review your pro and con list for each community. It isn’t easy for an older adult to move once, let alone twice. Take time to make a confident decision.
The decision to transition from a provide home into a senior community involves three qualifiers: location, budget and level of care.
The best time to begin your search is BEFORE you have to move into a community. Take time to visit multiple communities, compare pricing and amenities, but most of all, make sure it meets the most important reason for your move - lifestyle, security and peace of mind. And, if you need help this process, there are referral services available to assist you free of charge.
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