If you’re in the process of searching for senior living options—whether for your parents or another loved one—you know that there are a lot of available choices. Depending on the specific needs of the individual, you may look for communities within a particular budget, care type or independence level.
If you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s okay—those emotions are likely motivated by your love, care and responsibility for your parent or loved one. You want them to have a safe and happy next step in their journey. What’s more, it’s totally normal to feel apprehensive or have “analysis paralysis” when assessing the options. That’s why we’re breaking down a few actionable tips on how to find senior living that feels right for you and your loved one.
1. Gather All the Essential Details
The first step in your search should be gathering all the right details to guide your selections. By setting parameters, you won’t have to worry about spending extra time reviewing communities that don’t meet your parent’s essential needs. Create a list and include details such as:
- Budget: How much can they afford to spend per month on living costs? Do they have insurance, retirement accounts, assets from a home sale or VA Aid and Attendance to help ease that cost?
- Levels of care: Senior living communities can help support the various needs of their residents. For example, some may have extra qualifications to support those with Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory care, while others focus more on independent living.
- Location: Do you need to be within a certain proximity to your parents, or do they need to be close to a specific care provider or hospital? If distance is an essential factor, you’ll have an automatic location radius to work with. Or perhaps they’d like to retire to a warmer climate? Make sure to involve them in the conversation here.
- Communication needs: If you’re worried about your parents settling into their new home, you’ll want to confirm what communication options and guest policies the senior living communities have for family members (i.e., visiting hours, WiFi for video chats, events or support groups for families).
Once you’re armed with a list of the essentials your parent needs, you’ll be able to gather a selection pool that checks all the boxes and gives you peace of mind.
2. Talk to Your Parents About Their Preferences
Take the time to have a conversation with your parents about their preferences regarding social life, hobbies and interests. What extra amenities might make them excited about moving to a senior living community?
For example, Vineyard communities often resemble senior apartment living, which can be the perfect environment for healthy and active older adults. We offer on-site theatres, outdoor dining spaces, spas and more. With access to a variety of activities, dining options and social opportunities, residents can maintain a sense of independence while receiving the attention and care they need. Over time, you can increase the level of care or attention as your parents require.
Especially as you start to visit communities, keep the conversation fluid with your parents. Ask them how they feel about the culture of potential options. Can they see themselves living there? Talking about preferences should be an exercise that’s involved in each step.
3. Use The “Search and Survey” Process
As you continue to find senior living options, we recommend following a “search and survey” process. While the internet is a great tool to gain information, there’s nothing quite like an in-person visit. Tours and on-site meetings allow you to get to know the staff that will take care of your parent, get a sense of the spaces, and make sure the community “feels right” for your entire family.
To help with the survey part of this process, many senior living communities offer the following experiences:
- Talk with and observe staff: Schedule a time to talk with some of the staff of the senior living community. Take the opportunity to ask as many questions as you’d like. For instance, what insights can they offer that will help you help your parent’s transition go smoothly? What’s their favorite part about working in their community? What expertise do they have in their field? Pay attention to how staff interact with residents during your visits.
- Visit the space: There’s no substitute for walking around a space. Tours allow you to view the living spaces and apartments and potentially participate in a few activities or enjoy a meal in the dining areas. Even new communities in construction typically have model apartments, renderings, and virtual tours. (We offer this at our Vineyard Johns Creek information center—just give your nearest Vineyard community a call to schedule an appointment).
- Schedule a respite stay: Some senior communities offer respite care with short-term stays. This means your parent can actually live and experience the community for a few days. These services are perfect if you have travel plans and want to make sure your parent has a lovely time but is also looked after. Moreover, a respite stay can be a great “test drive” when considering senior living communities.
Find the Best Senior Living Options for Your Parents
Remember, this will be a big change for your parents—even if it’s an exciting one! By taking the time to find the right senior living options, you can further narrow down your search until you find the perfect new home. Just keep in mind that you want to find a community where they’re able to live their life to the fullest while getting professional care to maintain their health and wellbeing.