Are You Ready… Pt 2

As I indicated in Part 1, not every retirement community will suit every senior. There is a process for finding the right one. Before that, you need to understand the “lay of the land.”

While there are many variations to the senior housing industry, there are basically 3 main categories: Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing Homes.

Independent Living: Can be anything from groups of cottages or duplexes, condos, basic apartment buildings (with or without amenities), or a combination of these. The business may offer both Independent Living and Assisted Living, or be part of something called CCRC: Continuing Care Retirement Community (that features all 3 categories altogether). There can be variations of each of these as well (i.e.: 55+ seniors, affordable, congregate, HUD housing, etc.), but it is consistently ‘independent’ among them all. The amenities, when offered, are basically meals (1 to 3 per day), weekly housekeeping and flat linen laundry, a range of activities and transportation for groceries, events, and possibly, medical appointments.

Assisted Living: This is “independent” with amenities as well as some medical assistance available from a contingency of aides overseen by a nurse. These facilities are licensed by the state and supply round-the-clock assistance beyond the amenities offered in an independent setting (such as meals, housekeeping, or transportation). Activities are geared for a less active crowd.

Skilled Nursing Homes: This is round-the-clock nursing, in a facility set up for this. Rehab and long-term usually are housed in separate wings. Now that you understand this much:

1) Decide what level you really need. Be honest with yourself. If you need more care but opt for a community that does not offer what you need, your overall health will decline rapidly and you will have to move again sooner than you had planned. Why put yourself or your loved one through that!

2) Do the Research: What area do you want to live in, and what communities are in that area. You can find out through various sources: yellow pages, local senior guides, senior centers, sometimes your doctor or a friend or family member could recommend, or go online if you are internet savvy. Most communities have Websites you can visit for more information, but you can also call and talk to them. Ask lots of questions, not just what the price is. A good community will ask a lot of questions too; don’t be afraid to answer them. They should be able to make recommendations if you are not appropriate for their community.

3) Pick 3-4 communities and set appointments to visit them. Don’t overdo it…visiting more than this will just overwhelm you. Unless all 4 communities turn out to be duds, keep it simple.

4) Decide upon your favorite two communities, and then decide your timeline for moving. I say this because if you visit too early and don’t move for 2 years, the community could change and you won’t like it any longer. Don’t visit until you are within 6 months of moving. Once you have decided you need to move, don’t wait any longer than necessary. There are ways around obstacles (like selling a house or sorting through 50 years of accumulations). Ask the community about them; they have resources that can help. Don’t let that stop you from making the move. Your quality of life and possibly your quantity of life could depend upon this.

5) Select your favorite, put a deposit down to secure a place, and set the date to move.

Now we’ve said that, I will post in my next blog the “nutshell” version coming on Friday…. Vickie Sheppard Executive Director

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