In the past two months, we have presented information on Seniors’ Questions about Considerations for Moving. This is our third article in this series and it focuses on “Planning for the Future and Senior Housing Options.” We hope you find the information helpful and we look forward to hearing from you as we would like to be a member of your “Help Team” in your move process.
Planning for the Future
Where should we move to?
Senior Housing 101*
With so many senior housing options available, it’s easy to feel confused and overwhelmed by the vast number of care types and styles of senior living communities. It’s important to learn the terminology and the differences between senior care solutions that are out there so you can make the right choice for your family. As you begin your search, here are two different types of senior housing options available in the U.S that we will focus on for the purposes of this article.
INDEPENDENT LIVING COMMUNITIES
Senior independent living communities cater to seniors who are very independent with few medical problems. Residents live in fully equipped private apartments.
A variety of apartment sizes are available from studios to large two bedrooms. Fine dining services are offered with custom-designed meal packages. Often, residents can choose to pay for a specified number of meals per day. Frequently, there are numerous social outings and events to choose from for entertainment.
Also Known As:
• Retirement Communities
• Congregate Care
• Retirement Villages
• 55 + Communities
• Senior Apartments
• Continuing Care Retirement Community
• Mostly private pay
• Some U.S. government funded through Section 202
• $1,500-$3,500 per month
FIND INDEPENDENT LIVING ASSISTED LIVING
Assisted Living communities are good senior housing options designed for seniors who are no longer able to live on their own safely but do not require the high level of care provided in a nursing home. Assistance with medications, activities of daily living, meals and housekeeping are routinely provided. Three meals per day are provided in a central dining room. Residents live in private apartments which frequently have a limited kitchen area. Staff is available 24 hours per day for additional safety. Most assisted living communities provide licensed nursing services. The hours vary greatly, so be sure to ask when you visit. Social activities and scheduled transportation are also available in most communities. A special unit for Alzheimer’s residents is available in some, but not all communities.
Also Known As:
• Assisted Care Community
• Personal Care Home
• Mostly private pay
• Some take Medicaid
• $2,500-$4,000 per month depending on the size of apartment and level of assistance required
• Alzheimer’s care ranges from $2,800-$4,500 for a shared suite
Many seniors require special accommodations that would benefit their health and safety needs. Here are some of the several senior housing options that may be appropriate depending on the particular circumstance which we will address in future articles and posts to our LinkedIn and Facebook Pages.
• Skilled Nursing Centers
• Alzheimer’s and Memory Care
• In Home Care, Respite Care, Hospice Care
• Active Senior Apartments
• Veterans Housing
• Adult Day Care
Assisted Living vs. Independent Living Community
For an older adult, the choice between assisted living and independent living usually depends on how well an individual can manage daily activities without extra assistance. Examples of daily activities include, but are not limited to: preparing meals, personal hygiene, managing medications, completing household chores, driving/coordinating transportation, and maintaining personal finances. Someone who has difficulty with any of these daily “independent” activities may want to consider the maintenance-free lifestyle of an assisted living community.
Assisted living is a great option for individuals who have difficulty with daily activities at home. Residents at assisted living communities are free to live an independent lifestyle, but also receive regular support for a range of daily activities ranging from cleaning to meal preparation. Housekeeping and maintenance services are often included in the monthly rental of an apartment, along with laundry services, utilities, transportation and meals. In addition to enjoying the peace of mind that comes from this maintenance-free lifestyle, residents can take advantage of a full calendar of events, activities, out-trips, and countless opportunities for social engagement. Additional care services, such as medication management or assistance taking a shower, are also readily available.
In contrast to assisted living, independent living is ideal for individuals who can still live independently but enjoy having access to assistance when needed. Independent living communities provide their residents with convenient access to dining, medical care, entertainment and more. The independent living lifestyle offers residents a safe living environment, but with minimal assistance. Hospitality services, such as housekeeping, meals, and laundry may or may not be included in the monthly rental, but are typically available.
Choosing Between Assisted Living and Independent Living
At the end of the day, the choice between assisted living and independent living should be determined by the needs of your loved one. Many communities offer both assisted and independent living options and residents are able to adjust their lifestyle based on their changing needs. Inquire about the options that are available in each community you consider and be sure to ask about services that are included in the monthly rental and those that are an additional cost. When considering senior living options, it is usually a good idea to plan with the future in mind. Even if your loved one is not in need of assistance at this point in their life, changing care needs may dictate a need for services in the near future. Tour the community and speak with staff members and residents to gain the information you need to make the right decision.
Need help determining the best care option for your loved one?
Download This Helpful Resource “Your Guide to Senior Care Options.”
Serious Considerations for Choosing the Right Senior Community
Seniors today are not the seniors of yesteryear-most live full, active, and balanced lives. So deciding to move into assisted living, senior community, or another type of senior housing can be a confusing process for seniors and their families alike. The process of choosing assisted living communities can be daunting, but fortunately, there are resources that can help you.
We’ve compiled questions to ask and things to think about when considering assisted living communities. Choosing the right community requires serious consideration, so take your time when evaluating the services, features, and policies offered by those communities.
• As you arrive at the residence, do you like its location and outward appearance?
• As you enter the lobby and tour the residence, is the decor attractive and homelike?
• Do you receive a warm greeting from staff welcoming you to the residence?
• Does the administrator/staff call residents by name and interact warmly with them as you tour the residence?
• Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable?
• Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the residence and staff?
• Do the residents seem to be appropriate housemates for you or your loved one?
• Are staff members appropriately dressed, personable, and outgoing?
• Do the staff members treat each other in a professional manner?
• Are the staff members that you pass during your tour friendly to you?
• Are visits with the resident welcome at any time?
• Is the community well-designed for your needs?
• Is the floor plan easy to follow?
• Are doorways, hallways, and rooms accommodating to wheelchairs and walkers?
• Are elevators available for those unable to use stairways?
• Does a physician or nurse visit residents regularly to provide medical checkups?
• To what extent are medical services available, and how are these services provided?
• Are handrails available to aid in walking?
• Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?
• Are floors made of a non-skid material and carpets firm to ease walking?
• Does the residence have good natural and artificial lighting?
• Is the residence clean, free of odors, and appropriately heated/cooled?
• Does the residence have sprinklers and clearly marked exits?
• Does the residence have a means of security if a resident wanders?
NEEDS ASSESSMENTS, CONTRACTS, COSTS & FINANCES
• Is a contractual agreement available that discloses healthcare and supportive services, all fees, as well as admission and discharge provisions? What are the policies for refunds and transfers?
• Is there a written plan for the care of each resident?
• Does the residence have a process for assessing a potential resident’s need for services and are those needs addressed periodically?
• Does this process include the resident, and his or her family and facility staff, along with the potential resident’s physician?
• Are there any government, private, or corporate programs available to help cover the cost of services to the resident?
• Is staff available to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs?
• Can the residence provide a list of services available?
• Is staff available to provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed? ADLs include dressing, eating, mobility, hygiene and grooming, bathing, toileting, using the telephone, shopping, and laundry.
• Does the residence provide housekeeping services in residents’ units?
• Can residents arrange for transportation on fairly short notice?
• Are pharmacy, barber/beautician, and/or physical therapy services offered on-site?
What kind of accommodations/care should we look for and expect?
It’s important to be prepared when calling and touring assisted living centers. Each community is unique, if you’ve seen one assisted living facility then you’ve seen one assisted living facility. Compare communities and ask the right questions to help you decide on the community that’s right for your loved one.
Questions to Ask when you Call or Visit a Senior Community
1. What is your staff-to-resident ratio?
2. What kind of experience and training does your staff possess?
3. How many staffers are on duty overnight?
4. Can staff administer medications?
5. Do you have a nurse on staff 24/7?
6. Do you have any experience with (issues or diagnosis of your care recipient)?
7. Do you do an initial assessment prior to admission?
8. What types of apartments are available?
9. What is the monthly cost per apartment type?
10. If there is a wait list, how many are on it and what is the policy?
11. Tell me about some of the current residents.
12. Do you have any outdoor space?
13. What is your discharge policy?
14. What additional services are available if the needs of a resident change?
15. What are your billing and payment policies?
16. Are all services included in the monthly fee? If not, what and how much are additional?
Who Should We Consult & Why?
Even though there are many questions seniors can ask as they tour the senior communities, there are yet many unanswered questions and concerns that can only be obtained by consulting a Senior Care Advisor. An actual Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) is an earned and regulated accreditation by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors (SCSA), which must be renewed every three years; the CSA must meet the CSA CE Requirements, and always follow the Code of Ethics. … It is the only nationally accredited designation of its kind.
Here is a sampling of what your local Care Advisor can provide:
• Discuss what type of care is needed
• Work with you to determine the monthly budget that is available for care
• Figure out what amenities and services that are important to you or your loved one
• Research communities in the area you are looking in
• Match your needs and wants with what the community offers
• Send you a list of communities that would be a great fit for you or your loved one
• Set up tours at any community that you would like to visit
• Give you resources needed to make a decision such as checklists, questions to ask
• Follow up with both you and the communities to answer any remaining questions
• Stay in touch throughout entire process to assure the move went well and senior’s needs met
Rick Wandrych is prepared to help baby boomers (and their families, fudiciaries and attorneys) with whatever real estate needs they may have. Ricks is an accredited Senior Real Estate Specialist and a Certified Probate Specialist, and is proud to help seniors and their families deal with their life changing moments. In addition, Rick has partnered with Eldercare Consultant, Speaker and Educator Becky Feola who offers her expertise to help seniors successfully navigate the challenges of assisted living assessment and placement.
We work with compassion and understanding to help you sell real estate before a life transition or after a loved one passes on. Call us today at 602-359-9000 for your eldercare real estate needs.
*Note: Source of some information and photos used are taken from A Place for Mom.