A question most people eventually ask themselves is whether or not a senior living community is the right choice for their parent or other loved one. In some cases, an older adult may be perfectly content living on their own in their own home. But for others, the idea of moving into a senior living community may seem like the best option. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about senior living communities and what they offer. Some people envision gloomy old folks homes packed with lonely seniors who have given up on life. To understand if this might be right for your loved one, it’s important to understand exactly what these facilities have to offer. Here’s what you need to know before making this decision:
What is a Senior Living Community?
A senior living community is a planned housing option for people 65 and older. These communities provide residences, meals, assistance with daily activities, and often health care services for their residents. A “senior living facility” can refer to any type of senior housing, from an independent living apartment complex to a nursing home. The term can also be applied to other types of community-based services for seniors, including adult day care, wellness programs, and transportation services. Typically, communities are either independent living or assisted living facilities.
Why Might Someone Move Into a Senior Living Community?
People move into senior living communities for a variety of reasons, but often it’s because they need more help and less stress in their lives. Some people may have physical limitations that make it difficult to maintain their homes, while others may need special assistance with daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, and medication management. A senior living community can provide all of these things, while still respecting your loved one’s independence and autonomy. In addition, these facilities often have access to more resources, including professional health care services, recreational activities, and community partnerships.
Are There Any Disadvantages to This Type of Facility?
One potential disadvantage is that residents are often required to pay a substantial upfront fee to cover their care during the rest of their lives. The cost of long-term care can be staggering, and it’s impossible to know how much your loved one will need. Many facilities also require a contract that extends for the rest of your parent’s life, which means that you can’t leave if it’s not working out. This can be a particular disadvantage if your loved one has special needs that are not being met. Another potential disadvantage is that many of these communities are located in suburban or rural areas that may be difficult to access by public transportation. While some facilities offer transportation as part of their services, others are located in areas that are not walkable.
What are the Advantages of Senior Living Facilities?
- Access to health care services: These facilities often have partnerships with local doctors, including specialists who can help manage complex health issues. They also have the capacity to offer a broad range of services, including physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well as 24-hour assistance with things like medication management.
- More social opportunities: One of the major benefits of living in a larger community is the access to social events and activities, like discussion groups, concerts, and games. Many communities also offer transportation to local events and shopping excursions. This can make it easier for your loved one to stay connected to friends and family.
- 24-hour supervision: In many cases, these communities also offer assistance with daily tasks or help with medication management that many people need as they age.
- Safety and security: Many communities have safety protocols in place, including 24-hour emergency response systems and restrictions on who enters the facility, for the safety and security of all residents.
- Helpful staff: Many residents find that having the assistance of professional staff members is helpful, especially as they age and have more complex needs.
How to Find the Right Facility for Your Loved One?
The best way to find a good facility is to do your research. Start with information from AARP and the National Council on Aging to learn more about these communities. You can also speak with your loved one and ask them what they’re looking for in a facility and what their needs are. Put together a list of potential facilities, then do some research on each of them. Visit multiple facilities, and ask to speak with current residents. When touring the facilities, pay close attention to how residents are being treated, how the facility is being managed, and how clean the environment is. If you happen to live in the Richmond area, to make your life easier we’ve compiled a list of Richmond’s top senior living facilities.
The best way to decide whether or not a senior living community is the right choice for your parent or loved one is to understand what these facilities have to offer. These communities can provide an incredible amount of support, assistance, and connections with other people. The most important thing to remember is that these communities are designed to be places where people want to be. Your parent may not be as independent as they once were, but that doesn’t mean they have to feel like they have nowhere to go.