Helpful Questions to Ask When Determining the Type of Senior Living Community Your Parents Need

Portrait of senior manOn Monday we compared the senor living care types that are available when your parents require supportive services. While many families express a desire for loved ones to remain at home and receive in-home care or move in with a family member, for some families, this isn’t a realistic situation. In this post we’ll discuss the senior living care options available in a community setting. Although the community setting that most people think of is a nursing home, there are other living arrangements available and, most important, these communities are designed to mimic the privacy of a home while providing the emotional benefits of living within a close-knit community. Answering a few simple questions about your parents’ physical and mental abilities can help you determine which community setting will fit for their needs.

  • Can your parents still cook meals and clean the house but welcome a respite from these daily chores?
  • Do your parents need reminders to take their medications on-time?
  • Would your parents like to remain active and expand their circle of friends?

If your parents are still able to maintain their house and mow the lawn but are remarking that they don’t have time for these chores, then an independent living community is a good option for them. Visiting an independent living community can feel very much like stepping inside a small town because of the many on-site amenities such as a beauty salon/barber shop, a convenience store, bocce ball court, and even on-site banking and postal services.

These communities frequently have a full-time activity director charged with overseeing the activity program. Activities and events are customized to fulfill residents’ emotional, physical and mental well-being and are often tailored to meet a resident’s interest. Other community perks that are now increasingly common include movie theaters, art studios and putting greens.

One of the drawbacks of this type of community setting is that they are often large and those who are not naturally outgoing can find it intimidating. The average monthly rate of independent living communities typically start in the $2,000s and can be higher depending upon the amenities and location.

Should your parents consider an independent living community, ask whether assisted living services or in-home care services are available. Although your parents will be loath to admit they will likely need assistance in the future, you need to prepare for that possibility. By choosing a community that offers assisted living services, this will allow your parents to remain at the community and not have to move.

  • Can your parents remember to dress themselves but occasionally need help?
  • Do your parents need reminders or assistance to take their medication?
  • Do your parents no longer want to cook or clean the house?

When your parents require supportive services to remain independent, either an assisted living facility or a care home may be a good fit. At these communities, caregivers are on hand 24/7 to provide assistance and oftentimes a nurse is also on staff to oversee the residents’ care. Usually the same type of amenities found at independent living facilities, such as a beauty salon, movie theater and library, are found at assisted living facilities. Activities are scheduled Family Using Tablet Computerthroughout the day and residents live as they would at home yet with supportive services provided by on-site staff when needed. Because residents require more personal care, the average monthly cost of assisted living will typically start in the low $3,000s.

If your parents are seeking a more intimate setting that is family-like, care homes are a cozy alternative to the larger assisted living facilities. At care homes, residents live in a residential home so the transition is easy and familiar. The cost is usually less; however, you might not find as robust an activity program or the typical community-amenities like a  salon or concierge.

Some communities also offer limited nursing services or memory care. These are healthcare services you should take into account, should your parents care needs increase or they exhibit signs of dementia, so they won’t have to leave home and seek care elsewhere.

  • Is your mother or father exhibiting signs of dementia?
  • Have they been found wandering or forget where they are driving to?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, your parents may require a memory care community or a care home that specializes in dementia and memory loss to ensure the necessary support. These communities are secured to prevent unsupervised wandering outside, and caregivers receive special training on how to respond to the behaviors and physical symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Larger memory care communities are frequently modeled to look like a neighborhood, allowing residents to wander freely, yet able to easily walk to the dining room, courtyard or lounges from their apartment. Amenities such as beauty salon services and healthcare services can be expected as well. The cost of memory care will be quite expensive because residents require more frequent check-ins and one-on-one assistance to perform activities of daily living which include bathing, dressing or eating. Affordability is a major concern and because of this many families often wonder if assisted living is a better option. In an earlier post, Sandi Flores provides helpful advice on how families can determine whether assisted living or memory care is the best fit.

Change is never easy, but working with your parents to navigate through this new phase of their life before a crisis happens will make life happier and easier for everyone in the long run.

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