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May 25, 2021

Defining Needs of the Senior When Choosing a Senior Living Community

When considering making a move to a senior living community for a family member, defining exactly what they need and want in a senior living community is important. Here are the top steps to take when choosing the best community for them. 

Six Steps to Take When Choosing a Senior Living Community

1) Have a family discussion: The place to begin is with those closest to the senior, and who know them best and love them most: their family members, close friends, or caregivers. These are the people who understand their personal preferences and dislikes and can help the senior sort out what assets are most important to their health and happiness.  

Of course, within families there are often conflicting opinions that can cause upheaval at a time when cool heads should prevail. When conflict occurs, it usually means more time is needed to discuss options and move toward agreement. For more about how to prepare for and manage family conflict, the blog “6 Tips for Handling Family Conflicts While Caregiving” can help.

Similarly, when the senior is not already sold on the idea of moving, this interaction can be difficult. So before addressing the topic with a senior, read our blog, “Talking About Moving to a Senior Community,” for ways to make it a smooth and helpful discussion.

2) Speak with the senior’s physician: For seniors who are experiencing declining physical or mental health, it’s essential that their physician be included in the decision making. Some seniors may have only mild conditions that allow them to choose independent living while others should consider assisted living or memory care. Only their physician has the medical knowledge and insight to help each senior define the best level of care they need and why. 

3) Understand the different levels of care: Before deciding what resources a senior requires in a senior living community, it’s a good idea to investigate all the options. Although most large to mid-size cities generally offer a range of senior living options, the levels of care may vary widely, and smaller communities may offer fewer choices overall. Having general knowledge of what each type of care includes can help make defining needs and desires much easier. And knowing which communities provide multiple levels of care can be essential when there’s a medical condition to consider.

For example, a senior with early dementia may be fine in independent living for now, but will likely need the additional care available in assisted living, and down the road, in memory care. Learn more about senior living levels of care in our blog, “Senior Living: Understanding the Choices.”

4) Define requirements: Now it’s time to delve deeply into what each senior wants and needs. The first checklist item should be location so the senior is able to live in a place that makes them feel happy and safe. Next, it’s important to look at staff qualifications, which is more important as the level of care increases. Reputable communities are happy to provide that information as well as the patient-to-staff ratio and additional information about special care staff such as wellness teams.

Other requirements might include private versus shared rooms or apartments, whether or not seniors can bring their own furniture, the availability of transportation, and help with special dietary needs. 

5) Define additional amenities and expectations: Everyone has their own perceptions of senior living communities, so it’s also important to address what amenities are offered so expectations can ultimately be met. For example, many seniors enjoy being able to spend time outdoors during nice weather and won’t want to give up their patio or deck when they move. A community with outdoor areas for relaxation will be a plus.

Another very important aspect is the availability of exercise options to ensure seniors can stay fit. Many senior communities offer organized exercise classes as well as exercise rooms and even pools for group and individual use. This is especially great for seniors who have been isolated and unable to pursue normal physical fitness routines on their own. 

Then there’s the fun factor! Senior communities that offer additional entertainment and activities can really enhance lives, promote engagement and help bring isolated seniors out of their shells. Many senior communities offer full calendars of events designed specifically for seniors of all abilities to spice up daily life and provide social interaction. Check out our Resident Services for excellent examples of what to expect.  For more about senior living amenities, the blog, “Senior Living Amenities,” looks at the possibilities by community type.

6) Take tours and talk to residents in different communities: Once the list of needs and wants is compiled, it’s time to take a look at what’s available in the desired location. First, take a virtual tour and download written materials like brochures offered online. This can help narrow the possibilities while providing the chance to look inside without actually going there. Next, contact communities, speak with staff, and when possible, schedule in-person tours. Don’t forget to bring along the list of needs and wants, ask questions and talk to other residents to gauge their levels of satisfaction.By taking the necessary steps to define what a senior needs and wants in a senior living community, choosing the right community becomes so much easier.

At Arrow Senior Living our goal is to make each day the best it can be for every resident. Visit our website to learn more about senior living. To speak with one of our senior living counselors, contact us anytime.

VITALIA® Rockside in Seven Hills, OH offers independent senior apartments, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Centrally located near Cleveland Clinic Mary Mount with convenient access to major shopping centers and attractions, including Top Gol Cleveland, Cleveland Metro Parks, Spiva Center for the Arts, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Zoo, and A Christmas Story House.

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