How to Choose a Senior Living Facility

PARENTING TIPS |

If you’re helping a loved one choose a senior living facility -- or looking at one for yourself -- you may be overwhelmed at the choices. Many families base their decision on their loved one’s needs as well as several other factors. Let’s take a look at the things you should be thinking about when choosing a senior living facility.

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When you start looking for a senior living facility, you should have a checklist of things that are important to you. These are some to include:

Location
Any time you’re looking to move, it’s all about location, even with a senior living facility. It’s best to choose one that’s not too far from where you live. This is convenient for visits and in case of emergency. If something happens, you don’t want to be too far away. If possible, make sure there is at least one family member nearby.

Cost
Cost is another big thing to know when choosing a senior living facility. Most are paid out-of-pocket with insurance covering zero percent. Ask about the monthly fee as well as what is included in that fee. Money from savings accounts, veterans’ benefits, as well as home equity life insurance can all help to pay the cost.

Narrow down your choices to the ones that you can afford and are interested in. This will certainly shorten your list.

Services & Amenities
A big part of the cost is the services and amenities that the facility offers. Ask what dining and housekeeping services are available as well as what exercise and recreational activities are offered. Seniors need to stay active when they move into these types of centers. Having events planned where they can socialize and meet other people is important.

Also, look into whether there is a community room where residents can get together daily. These types of common spaces can be used to have a cup of coffee or just meet up to talk. This is another level of interaction that is important for seniors.

Medical Staff
If your loved one has a medical condition, ask if there are nurses available or around the property. Some places also have doctors that visit occasionally. Also, ask if there is transportation available to bring residents to doctor’s appointments. Many places offer this but charge a minimal fee.

Photo: iStock

Handicap Accessibility
Even if handicap accessibility is not an issue now, it could become one in the future. Knowing that the facility not only has an elevator but is handicap accessible in each unit can make or break your decision. This includes having doorways large enough to fit a wheelchair and making sure the bathroom has safety bars and safety features. Finding a senior living facility that is 100% handicap accessible should not be too difficult because of laws that need to be followed in each state.

Private vs. Shared Space
While some people prefer a private space, others like the idea of having a roommate for companionship. Ask what types of space is available and the cost of each. This can factor into your final decision. On the topic of space, it’s good to know what furnishings are included and which ones you need to supply. Many senior living facilities require minimal furniture.

Pet Policy
For many people, their pet is their favorite companion. Moving into a new space and having to get rid of an animal because pets are not allowed can be devastating. Ask about the pet policy. Some facilities will allow cats, but not dogs, while others don’t allow any pets at all. This can also end up making or breaking your decision for your loved one.

While asking questions and doing your homework is important, the best way to choose the right senior living facility is to visit each location before making any decisions. This can help everyone get a feeling for the place to see if it’s a good fit. When choosing a senior living facility, keep these factors in mind so that you select the right place to meet your family’s needs. 

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