Regardless of how confident you feel that the time is right for senior living, choosing the community itself is a daunting task for most people. For one thing, it certainly makes the idea of moving feel more real. Second, there’s just so much to consider. What level of care would be best? What location? What amenities would you prefer? What’s your budget?
We can help. Here’s what to consider in each of these areas when choosing a senior living community for yourself or your loved one.
Your Senior Living Care Options
Identifying the right care options for you is a great place to start. A recent Vitality Living blog overviews the different kinds of senior living available, along with a series of questions to ask to help you determine the best fit for you or your loved one.
As you learn about your options, make sure to consider your future needs, as well as your current ones. For example, you may not need daily assistance right now, so an independent living community may seem ideal. However, your needs could change over time, so you may want to consider an independent living community that also has other care options such as assisted living and memory care on the same campus, so you don’t need to relocate to a different senior living community.
Choosing a Senior Living Community Location
Aside from the level of care, location is one of the biggest considerations in choosing a senior living community. Do you or your loved one want to stay near your current neighborhood? Is there another part of the city in which you prefer? Or, are you planning to relocate to a senior living community that’s closer to family?
Many seniors want to stay near where they currently live so they’ll be in familiar surroundings and close to friends. However, you may want to consider the possibility of your friends moving should their health needs change. On the other hand, if you plan to move near family, consider the likelihood, or not, that they may have to relocate from there for a job down the road, for example. There are no right or wrong answers here, but you’ll want to choose a location where you or your loved one will feel comfortable now and in the future.
What’s more, consider what’s near the senior living community in terms of access to medical care, shopping, dining, and recreation. Lastly, keep in mind that the cost of a senior living community may vary, in part, due to its location. For example, a community in the heart of downtown may be more expensive than a location in the suburbs.
The Senior Living Lifestyle
This really has two components. First, each senior living community will have its own unique style and personality. Some will be more formal, some more casual and relaxed, so think about your personality or that of your loved one and consider the setting in which you’d feel most at home. In researching communities, you may get a sense of their personality from their website or in speaking with team members on the phone; however, taking a tour is usually the best way to get a sense of this.
The second component of the lifestyle you’ll experience in a senior living community is the services and amenities that are offered. We find it’s easier to consider your wants and needs first, then assess communities based on priorities such as:
- Can’t Live Without – This might be a pet-friendly community, one that has 2-bedroom accommodations, fitness classes, or weekly housekeeping, for example.
- Your Preferences – You might prefer a community with multiple dining venues, an onsite beauty salon, and a pool. Or maybe you desire a residence with a balcony or patio and a full-size kitchen versus a kitchenette.
- Nice-to-Have Features – Things like concierge services, a spa, private transportation, weekly happy hours, or live entertainment may put one community over another for you.
Your Budget for Senior Living
You definitely want to have a clear understanding of the budget before you start researching specific communities. What’s more, make sure to check into funding solutions such as the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Benefit, long-term care insurance, and/or life insurance conversions that can help you offset the cost so your budget can go further.
As you consider senior living communities based on your budget, it’s key to compare apples to apples, so to speak. So, you’ll want to ask each community these questions:
- What’s included in the base rent?
(Typically, it includes utilities, meals, life enrichment, and housekeeping at a minimum.)
- What additional costs can we expect?
(This might include private transportation, beauty/barbershop fees, and/or additional fees for pets.)
- What are the up-front fees, if any?
(Some communities charge what’s known as an entry fee while others may require a security deposit, first/last month’s rent, or a pet deposit.)
- How often can we expect rent increases?
(You’ll also want to know how much the increases typically are and when families are notified about them.)