How To Research, Choose A Senior Living Community

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By: Candy Cohn, CSA Owner of Oasis Senior Advisors South Florida Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

Planning for senior living can seem daunting so it’s best to begin to educate yourself well before the time comes that you or your loved one needs to move. Families and seniors usually begin to consider alternatives when it starts to become difficult for the elderly person to carry on important activities of daily living without significant support and assistance from others. The individual may be falling frequently, experiencing memory loss, fatigue, loneliness, poor nutrition, dehydration, confusion with medications, cannot drive anymore, or should not be driving, but family members are afraid to take his or her license away.

Researching senior living can be quite time consuming and confusing. The average person often overlooks vital details that could make all the difference in making the best decision. You might consider contacting a Senior Living Advisor, who is a professional that offers a FREE consulting service to help you navigate the maze of senior living options and find the most appropriate home for you or your loved one. If you do this, it’s important to work with a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®. This credential applies to professionals who are able to demonstrate their competence and knowledge of working with older adults, and they are bound to ethical guidelines.

There are a variety of senior living options available. These include Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care. Some communities are strictly rentals, and others called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) require a substantial investment up front and then a monthly fee. There are also residential care home Assisted Living Facilities, which usually have only six to ten residents and are good for seniors who need a lot of care and not so much socialization. The price range is vast, as is the feel for each community. All of them provide meals and activities, housekeeping to various degrees, and levels of care if it’s an assisted living or memory care facility.

It’s important to schedule a tour, or have your senior placement advisor schedule it. If you stop by without an appointment it’s likely that the sales person will not be available and you’ll only get to see the lobby. When you take your tour keep all your senses aware. How does it look and smell when you walk in? If it smells bad, you probably should turn around and leave. Is it clean and neat? Is it bright and somewhat cheerful looking? Do the residents look happy and well cared for? Are they dressed and groomed well?

Come with a list of questions ready. If you have a senior living advisor with you, she can help you prepare. These should include questions about price, care options, meals, onsite physicians and physical therapy, activities, transportation, housekeeping and laundry. You can also check state surveys online, but they may be misleading, as your senior living advisor can explain.

Remember that a senior living community should feel like home, not like an institution. If you find a place you like, go back for a meal and possibly an activity. It can be a difficult decision, but in the end it needs to feel like the right fit. Educate yourself, turn to a professional for guidance, and trust your instincts.

About Candy Cohn, CSA

Candy Cohn, owner of Oasis Senior Advisors South Florida, is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)® offering a free service to guide people through the maze of senior living options in Palm Beach and Broward County.