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Tips for Selecting a Senior Living Facility

Tips for Selecting a Senior Living Facility
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By Carole Miller, RN ~

While talking with a Sun City Carolina Lakes resident who is transitioning to a senior living campus with his wife, I became aware of some important considerations. The first few listed below are fairly obvious, but take a look them and the others.

  1. Does the facility appear pleasing when you enter? Is it clean, attractively decorated, have appropriate lighting and safety features, a friendly staff, well kept grounds and interior? Is is in a location convenient for you in relation to your family, medical providers, friends, or other activities important to you?
  2. Are the features you are seeking available, such as independent living, assisted living, memory care, a nursing home? Ideally, in this writer’s opinion, the best time to be investigating long-term care is before you need it, and, therefore, a facility with all levels of care, starting with independent living, would be the best case scenario.
  3. The financial plan must fit your budget, and those plans are varied, such as rentals, buy-ins with no monies returned after the initial trial period, buy-ins with a percentage of return under varied conditions (read the fine print). And there may be some facilities that are covered or partially covered by long-term care insurance. All require some type of monthly maintenance fee—exactly what that covers is most important to know.
  4. Are there medical staff at the facility or within a reasonable distance? Is transporation available for medical appointments or other important tasks outside of the facility? A few facilities offer a medical plan for consideration.
  5. Are meals included, or are there suitable dining facilities available? If you start out in independent living, you would have a kitchen, but usually there is also some type of meal plan for prepared meals as well. Are you invited to eat a meal there? What are the menus like, and do they provide for special dietary needs?
  6. Are there planned activities and facilities for exercising, playing games, crafts, walking trails or tracks, socialization and mental stimulation such as a library, movies, and field trips?
  7. Pets! Those of us who have them do not want to leave them as long as we are able to care for them. Are they allowed, how many, and under what conditions?
  8. Is there sufficient parking for residents and guests?
  9. Are guest accomodations available for out of town guests for short stays?
  10. Some facilities have smoke-free campuses now. If you smoke, you need to know the community policy.
  11. Look around—do the residents appear happy? Talk with them; if possible, visit unannounced at least once.
  12. Ask if there a waiting list, and what the requirements are to be placed on the list. Usually, there is a waiting list reservation fee, but no requirement to move in until you are ready. You will be asked what type of accomodation you are seeking. For example, if you are considering independent living, it would be according to the size of apartment, number of bedrooms, and such.

Researching senior living campuses is better begun sooner rather than later. Two years too soon is much better than two years too late. An honest assessement your physical and financial situtation in relation to the senior communities available to you will help you and your family make informed decisions rather than having to react in a medical crisis.

Carole Miller is a resident of Sun City Carolina Lakes and a frequent contributor to Living @ SCCL magazine where this article was originally published. Thank you, Carole, for sharing this with our Charlotte readers.