When you need to make important decisions about senior housing, knowledge is everything.
Whether driven by an acute medical situation or simply a lifestyle choice, finding the right senior housing option for yourself or a loved one can be a challenge. The first step to success is to understand what it is that you really need from a senior housing community. Think about what factors are most important to you and your loved ones while you read through this booklet. Then, get a list of the senior housing space options in your desired area. You can call your local Area Agency on Aging (which you can locate at n4a.org) or visit naela.org to get a comprehensive list of all senior housing providers, searchable by specific care and lifestyle criteria.
Once you have a short list of potential options, visit each place at least once. This booklet will help you understand what questions to ask when you visit.
Assessing Your Needs - It’s important to carefully assess all your needs when choosing housing.
Cost: What resources do you have to pay for senior housing? You may want to speak with a financial planner or estate attorney to help you understand and organize your options.
Location: It’s best to find senior housing that is convenient for relatives and friends to visit. The more you visit your loved ones, the more secure you are that they are being cared for properly and are happy. If your loved one has to be cared for in a different state, try to choose a location that is easy for family members or friends and that is familiar to your loved one.
Care Services: Assess all of the care needs of the person who is moving to senior housing. Health issues are most important, and if the person has special needs, such as Alzheimer’s disease, tendency to fall, disabilities, etc., make certain that the facility you choose is trained in handling those specific situations.
Room Type: Moving to senior housing is sometimes a difficult adjustment, so it’s important to try and find the best type of room in a residential home or apartmentstyle living. Check how many people are sharing a room.
Meals: Try to visit a facility during mealtime. Are the residents provided a suitable area for eating? How does the food smell? Is the food healthy? Do residents have input into meal planning or options to eat ethnic or specialty foods? Are healthy snacks available at all times? Are utensils and serving dishes senior-friendly and clean? Is mealtime a pleasant experience? Are those who need help with eating cared for with dignity and respect? If you live nearby and want to bring food in, is this allowed?
Activities: Find out what activities are available for residents. Are there options? Are there organized activities in the community, such as shopping, movies or visiting a local park?