One of the scariest moments for many people around the world is when parents start to age. The people that once took care of you are now needing to be taken care of, and the reversing of roles can be a stressful period in life. One part of this stressful period is the question of where the aging parents should live. The choosing of retirement facilities can bring up a plethora of questions that can cause contention between family members: “Assisted Living or Independent Living? Is this just a glorified nursing home? What social events are hosted? Will my parent feel lonely?” Amid this plethora of questions, below is an explained checklist that you can use to help choose the appropriate senior housing.
1. Medical Facilities
You could look up a list of top retirement centers, but nobody knows your loved one like you do. One factor that separates each individual in terms of senior placement is medical needs. Ask yourself (Or your loved one): “What medical specialists will be needed on a regular basis? Can my loved one transport themselves/find transportation or which retirement facilities will provide transportation (If so, how far are they willing to drive?)?” Your loved one doesn’t exactly need to live next to the Mayo Clinic, but if they need to see multiple specialists, being near a major medical center could be helpful. If they only see one specialist, there will be more options (Also, considering that, by 2030, the population living in assisted living communities is expected to double to 2 million, facilities near medical centers may fill up. Getting your loved one onto a waiting list early can be advantageous).
This is the box that many people may think that they have already checked when, in reality, they may be unprepared for the cost of many retirement facilities. Before touring, you should sit down with a financial planner (It would be best if it is someone that is familiar with both your and parents’ financial situation). Ask them “What savings/retirement funds does my loved one possess that can help with the costs? How much do I need to come up with per month? What does Medicare cover in regards to this?” Having these questions already answered before even walking into a retirement facility can make for a short, pleasant trip and peace of mind for both you and your loved one.
Nobody wants their loved one to feel isolated in a little room with nobody around them. While this is an unlikely scenario, community sponsored social activities are something to look for when considering a retirement community. Many facilities advertise that they offer a lot of recreation, but there is more you can do to prepare. Ask the community you are considering for a copy of their activities calendar, schedule a meeting with the activity director, and/or ask to speak to some of the residents about their opinion of the activities.
4. Worship Opportunities
If your loved one is nonreligious, then this section won’t apply to you. However, if they are, it is important to know about the worship opportunities in and around the community. Answer these questions “What houses of worship are near the facility, and which ones belong to the denomination/church body that my loved one belongs to? Will a pastor visit my loved one? Can my loved one get a ride to worship, or is worship provided in the facility?” A simple call to a director of the facility can likely answer some of these questions before you even go there.
Considering this list before and during tours of retirement facilities can help you have peace of mind regarding the future of your aging loved one. Instead of having to constantly worry about this period of life, you can focus on spending precious moments with your loved one.