Many people become quickly overwhelmed when trying to decide between senior living communities. Now add to that the uncertainty of whether you can or should tour during COVID-19. But don’t worry, there is a way you can make the process easier. It comes down to answering who, what, when, where, why for your options and learning how to tour them virtually.
Where Do You Stand?
Before you even start looking at senior living options first take time to honestly assess the following for yourself or your loved one:
- Current health concerns
- Mobility concerns
- Social and emotional wellbeing
- Difficulties in performing daily activities and tasks, if any
- Difficulties in maintaining the house and/or yard, if any
These answers can help determine which type of senior living would work best to help you narrow your search. Senior living options are based on the level of care needed and include:
Independent Living – For seniors who require little to no daily assistance but want more social and enrichment opportunities than are available at home. Offers freedom from home maintenance, cooking, cleaning and laundry, as well as amenities such as concierge services, a pool, fitness center and transportation.
Assisted Living – Provides assistance with daily tasks such as bathing and dressing as needed. Offers a comfortable, homelike setting and feature housekeeping, laundry and transportation along with 24-hour supervision, onsite care and daily social opportunities plus amenities similar to independent living.
Memory Care – Specifically designed to support those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Staff is specially trained and provides 24-hour supervision along with therapy, structured activities and social opportunities. These communities also feature easy to navigate layouts, housekeeping and laundry.
What Do You Want in Senior Living?
Now it’s time to think about what you want in a senior living community. Create a list that includes:
- Non- negotiables for your family
- Location preferences
- Lifestyle preferences
- Amenities and/or services you’d like
And don’t forget to consider what you want to spend, i.e. your budget, as that is usually one of the biggest drivers in what senior living communities make your short list.
How Do You Tour Now?
COVID-19 has changed just about everything, including how you tour the communities you’re considering. But hasn’t changed is that you CAN still get an inside look at all senior living has to offer. To keep residents, staff and visitors safe, senior living communities are now typically offering virtual tours as well as with links to videos, interactive floor plans and room planners.
At this point the onus is on the senior living communities to convince you why they are the best fit for your needs. Using the same criteria set will make it much easier to compare. So, as you talk to the staff and tour virtually, have your ‘want’ list and these questions at hand:
Accommodations and Campus
- What type of accommodations does the community offer and what are the cost differences?
- Can residents personalize their space?
- How do you feel about the appearance and comfort of the residences, dining, common and outdoor areas?
Lifestyle and Wellness
- Is there a dedicated chef? How is dining different during COVID-19?
- Can you see the menu? Do they accommodate special dietary restrictions or requests?
- What programs (exercise, wellness, enrichment, social and other activities) are offered?
- How does the community ensure activities are socially distanced?
- How often are housekeeping and laundry service provided?
- Is there a wide range of amenities available?
- What are the visiting policies for family and friends during COVID-19?
- Is the community pet friendly?
Staff and Care
- What level of daily assistance can you expect?
- What are the qualification requirements for the staff?
- Are staff members offered continuing training opportunities?
- What is the staff-to-resident ratio both day and night?
- Do you accommodate special needs, such as diabetic care and/or mobility issues?
Safety and Security
- What protocols does the community have in place to protect residents and staff from COVID-19?
- How are these protocols, and any updates, communicated to residents and families?
- How does the community handle medical emergencies?
- How is the community secured?
- What are the monthly costs for accommodations and care?
- What services are included in the above costs?
Who Would Recommend these Senior Living Communities?
One very important, but often overlooked part of the process, is to seek feedback from people who’ve had firsthand experience with the senior living communities you are considering. If you know residents at any of the communities, ask what they think. Also check with friends and neighbors for insight on the community’s reputation. In addition, check with trusted advisors including your attorney, financial planner or clergy, as well as local professionals who may work with these senior living communities to get their recommendations. Looking at online reviews can also give you additional perspective.
When You’re Deciding
Lastly, whether you’re considering senior living for yourself or your loved one, make sure to include other family members in the process. Yes, everyone will have different perspectives, but the transition will be easier for the entire family if you’ve collaborated in making the decision. Not to mention peace of mind that each person’s opinion has been heard and all options have been explored.
For more information on our senior living community, contact us today to schedule a tour →