A Guide To Joining A Senior Living Community
As people get older, there comes a point where independent living becomes more and more difficult to manage. Even though everyone would like to be able to live in their own homes for as long as possible, sometimes they can no longer do the necessary daily tasks of living without assistance. If you are responsible for the care of an older senior, you might be facing the daunting decision of moving them out of their home.
The good news is that you can create a new life for your aging loved ones while keeping them safe and happy at the same time. You can make this happen by moving them to a senior living community or assisted living community. The right senior living community can make a substantial difference in your loved one’s quality of life, both physically and mentally. Senior living solutions offer many services and amenities that allow active seniors to continue their daily lives with as much autonomy as possible while they age.
This guide will discuss what it’s like to live in a senior community. We will cover choosing the right community, the services offered in a senior community, transitioning from independent living to assisted living, and more.
What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a type of housing facility for older people that provides them with varying degrees of personal assistance and medical care. Assisted living facilities generally provide a more home-like setting than traditional nursing homes by offering individual rooms or shared apartments, spacious common areas, group activities, and a higher level of staff attention to each resident’s needs.
These facilities are staffed 24 hours per day and provide residents with help with activities of daily living (ADLs) in their private independent living apartments or rooms.
According to the National Center for Assisted Living, more than almost 1 million people reside in 28,900 assisted living communities across the US. Assisted living is growing into a significant part of long-term care since it allows older adults to age in a place resembling independent living while receiving help with daily tasks.
When Is it Time to Transition to Assisted Living?
The responsibility of caring for an aging parent can be overwhelming. Having an in-home caregiver might make the process easier, but can be quite expensive. If your loved one requires a higher level of supervision, moving them into assisted living may be the best choice. Here are some signs that indicate senior housing might be the right decision:
- They are spending too much time alone.
- They need more care than you can provide.
- You can’t leave them alone at home.
- They are forgetting to take medicine.
- They are unable to complete daily tasks like personal grooming, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and so on.
- They are becoming more aggressive or confused.
- They suffer from chronic illness or are recovering from an injury.
Having a Conversation with Your Loved One About Assisted Living
It can be challenging to discuss assisted living with your parents or older loved ones. In many cases, transferring to a senior living community is viewed as an irreversible blow to independence, and many elders are unwilling to discuss it for fear of being displaced from their homes. You should have these conversations now so that when the time comes, you’re prepared.
Sadly, many families postpone the discussion for too long, resulting in more stress and confusion instead of better decisions. Start planning well before you start worrying about the possibility of having to move your loved one into an alternate home. If your parents are thinking about retirement or downsizing even though they can still handle independent living, now is the perfect time for this conversation about how they would like to be cared for further down the line.
Beginning Your Search for a Senior Living Community
Once you’ve decided to move your loved one to assisted living, there are several factors to consider when choosing a new residence. These include location, size, amenities, services offered, cost, quality of food, and accommodations. It’s essential to look at all aspects of the facility but focus primarily on the health and safety standards.
Why Is a Smaller Facility Better?
The CDC has found that people living in smaller assisted living facilities (between 4 and 25 residents) experience fewer falls than people living in larger communities. This is an indication of the higher attention and care older adults receive in a smaller house.
In a smaller facility, the needs of residents are met individually rather than them getting generalized care. When dealing with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other memory disorders, it’s critical to ensure that a loved one receives personalized care from someone you trust.
Small facilities also offer a closer relationship between staff and residents. Staff members know each resident personally because they work closely together every day, which means they can recognize any issues quicker. A smaller assisted living center creates deep bonds between the residents and between the caretakers and residents. There is often a sense of family in senior living communities.
Furthermore, elders can more easily navigate small facilities compared to large ones. There are generally fewer people walking around so seniors have less chance of getting lost or wandering off.
Beginning Your Search For A Senior Living Community
Choosing a senior living community takes some research and preparation. It is imperative to understand the different levels of care available and research the different communities in your area of choice.
By planning early, you will have the time to gather information about each of your options and choose the best one for you or your loved ones. Make sure that your decision is not a hasty one you might regret later.
Where to Start
Determine Your Care Needs. The first step in choosing a senior living community is determining the level of care you or your loved one needs. Do you simply want help with medication and appointments or do you need more intensive medical care? Will you need assistance with everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, cleaning, and moving around or do you just want someone to cook and shop for you? Depending on how much help you need, your choices could range from simple to more complex living arrangements.
Establish a Budget. It’s important to remember that costs vary greatly depending on where you live and what type of care you seek out. Establishing a budget is essential, so you aren’t overwhelmed by high prices once you arrive at your chosen senior housing community. Compare the cost of an assisted living facility with the costs of independent living such as food, housekeeping, property taxes, and more.
Determine a Location. Is staying near the current neighborhood important? Are you looking for a pet-friendly community? What about being in close proximity to family? How far away would you need to travel to get good health care? Are there transportation services available? Consider these details before making a final selection. You’ll want to find a convenient, safe, and affordable community.
Once you narrow down your search, it’s important to visit potential residences and ask questions about their programs and many amenities. While visiting, check out the environment and see if it feels right for you.
Inspections, Reports, and Testimonials
Be sure to take the time to thoroughly inspect all aspects of an assisted living community before signing an agreement. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but it will help protect you against potentially dangerous situations. Ask about existing health conditions and requirements the facility has set forth.
Talk to current residents and former employees to learn more about services offered at various facilities. Read online reviews written by past residents and family members or speak directly to someone who has lived in a particular location.
Checking a community’s reputation is another way to determine whether it’s a good fit. Speak to local government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and religious groups in your area. Ask them if they’ve heard anything negative about the community. Also, consider asking your physician, social worker, and pharmacist for references.
What To Look For When You Visit – Size, Staff Ratio, and Other Concerns.
Before signing anything, set up an appointment to meet with community representatives to learn firsthand about their programs and amenities. Schedule tours so you can meet with individual staff members and see private areas of the facility along with the communal areas like the dining room, fitness center, garden, activity room, and more.
Ask questions about a community’s size and staffing ratios. Some communities may have a large waiting list for admissions, while others charge an application fee upfront. Find out what kind of support is provided to prospective residents.
Find out which services are included in the cost, like meals, laundry, housekeeping, utilities, personal care, physical therapy, and recreational activities like arts, crafts, exercise, and games.
Learn about any special needs that are required for admission. Some communities require applicants to undergo tests or screenings before admitting them as permanent residents.
What Questions Should You Ask?
When touring different assisted living communities, here are some basic questions to ask:
- Do you have enough staff to care for each resident?
- Which types of training do your caregivers receive?
- Are your staff trained to care for residents with dementia?
- Do you have staff on hand 24/7?
- Can you provide on-site medical care?
- What happens if there’s a medical emergency?
- What is the security situation like in your community?
The transition to residential care facilities can be stressful for older people, especially those who are independent and accustomed to making decisions on their own. It’s essential to find a community that provides a supportive environment where residents feel comfortable expressing their feelings and needs.
Arrival and Adjustment
One of the biggest fears when moving into a senior living community is what comes next. Many seniors worry about being able to adapt to new routines and adjust to changes in their daily lives.
Some communities offer a program designed to facilitate transitions. These programs typically include several components, like orientation and education sessions, a transition team meeting before move-in, and ongoing support throughout the first year of residency.
In addition to these resources, many communities also offer a variety of classes to help prepare residents for upcoming adjustments.
Once you select a community, visit at least twice before moving in permanently. During your first visit, take time to meet your potential neighbors and see how well the community is maintained. If possible, arrange for a visit during off-hours; this will give you a better idea of the community’s overall atmosphere.
During your second visit, check-in with the front office to make sure everything is ready for your move-in. Also, confirm whether all necessary documents have been submitted (e.g., health insurance, driver’s license, etc.) and whether there are any outstanding fees. Finally, double-check the policies related to things like being a pet-friendly community or smoking.
Daily Activities, Medical Care, and Visits
Each community varies in terms of who pays for what aspects of daily living. Some facilities may charge additional fees for groceries, transportation, and housekeeping. Most communities do not cover specific costs such as doctor visits, medications, and other medical bills as these are usually covered by Medicare insurance.
Also, it’s common practice for communities to limit visitors to once per week unless otherwise specified by an individual resident. Some communities allow overnight stays only under specific circumstances.
Long-Term Residency in a Senior Living Community
How To Respond To Problems
Problems in assisted living can be a significant challenge for families. It can be difficult for residents and family members to express their concerns. Many families fear they will be retaliated against if they speak up with community staff. But speaking up is often essential to resolving problems.
Keep in close contact with community members as issues arise and need addressing. If things remain the same, request to meet with the wellness team or administrators to review the current care plan. The law requires that every assisted living facility resident receive an individualized care plan that adapts to the individual’s changing needs.
You can observe how the community member reacts to this new plan in time. When a resident’s safety is in danger due to stagnant actions, contact the local authorities to discuss the next steps.
If you decide to move the senior out, look into transferring them elsewhere. Once a community is selected, have open discussions with the community staff. Be prepared to explain why the move is being made. Your loved one should not feel forced to leave.
Ensuring Your Senior’s Happiness and Well-Being
Being happy and feeling valued plays a critical role in a senior’s mental and physical health. As a family member, it’s important to understand the impact positive emotions have on seniors’ lives. Most people enjoy spending quality time with others, but some seniors often prefer solitude.
It’s necessary that you should stay involved with your older loved ones when they live in an assisted living home if you want them to be happy and healthy. Staying close with them during the transition process helps ease their stress levels and keeps them from feeling isolated. They can also note any problems to you from the beginning and you can work to monitor them.
After the move, you should encourage your senior to make new friends, stay active, and get involved with the community activities. By doing so, you can assist your seniors in adjusting to life in their new home.
Two Hearts Home For Seniors Can Answer Your Questions
Two Hearts Home for Seniors is a unique assisted living facility designed specifically for those in need of daily assistanceas well as retain independence. Two Hearts provides various services for its residents, including respite care, 24-hour supervision, home-cooked meals, wellness programs, personal and linen laundry, transportation, medication reminders, daily activities, special events, access to doctors and nurses, and more. Residents at Two Hearts can enjoy life within the comforts of a home setting while getting all the assistance they need.
Two Hearts is proud to be the only assisted living community in the state that focuses on providing a family atmosphere. Our home only houses up to 16 people, so the ratio of caregivers to clients is better and more hands-on than a traditional assisted living facility or nursing home.
If you are searching for an assisted living community that helps residents enjoy fulfilling lifestyle care, Two Hearts Home For Seniors is the perfect place. Contact us today to learn more about our senior living solutions. For immediate assistance, call us at 219-600-2200 to speak with a member of our friendly staff at Two Hearts Home For Seniors Lowell, Indiana.