12 Tips for Touring Senior Living

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February 20, 2017

Senior Living, Weatherly Life, assisted living, tacoma, touring

BY Brandon Beebe
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Daylight savings time is around the corner. It’s the time of year that families are making college visits. Choosing the right college for your child is not only a big decision but often a big investment. Choosing a senior living community is no different. In fact, considering the medical needs of older adults, finding the right senior living community can take even more careful planning than getting into the right college.

At Weatherly Inn, we want our future residents to move in with the peace of mind that comes from finding the perfect living solution that they can call home. So, we offer these tips when you or your loved one is considering the move to a senior living community.

Start your search with our top 12 tips:

    1. Know What You Need. Make an objective list of services and support needed – both current and anticipated. Maintaining independence, getting help with bathing and dressing, managing medication, maximizing safety – knowing up front what’s needed can help define budget and choice.
    2. Establish a Budget. How much can be spent on senior living each month? Many of your current homeowner expenses will be included in monthly fees – meals, utilities, and taxes, for example. And as you’re planning, be mindful of other financial resources that can help, such as long-term care insurance, or the Aid & Attendance benefit for veterans and their surviving spouses. We encourage you to consult a financial planning professional.
    3. Determine a Location. The real estate mantra – location, location, location – applies. Is it meaningful to stay close to the current neighborhood? Is being close to a major medical center important? Or is a move in order to reposition seniors for the sake of adult children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren?
    4. List Desires. What are your “must-have” services and amenities? Your list should include whatever is non-negotiable in making this move – a community that accepts pets or offers a comprehensive wellness program, for example. You should also create a “wish list” of everything hoped for, such as an on-site guest suite for visiting family members, religious services, fitness programs, etc.
    5. Visit Websites. Search online for senior living communities in the desired location. The community’s website should describe services and amenities, the continuum of care available, and life enrichment programs. Some communities also provide general information about successful aging, caregiver support, and senior living. Make a list of the communities you’d like to know more about – or visit.
    6. Read Online Reviews. Find a community you’d like to know more about? Check Caring.com or SeniorAdvisor.com for reviews that can tell you what current and previous residents and families have to say about the community you’re interested in.
    7. Don’t Forget About Facebook. Look up the Facebook page for each community that interests you. Read the comments. Look at the photos. See what you can learn about lifestyle, residents, activities, programs – even the quality of dining.
    8. Ask Around. Anyone who’s been through the process can usually offer helpful insights. Similarly, you can often find good information and advice from a trusted family physician or clergy member. Ask friends, family, colleagues – and you may discover ideas you haven’t thought about … and information you need to know.
    9. Make Preliminary Contact. Shorten a long list of potential communities by phoning, emailing, or requesting info online. Prepare a list of questions, based on the identified needs, desires and budget. Preliminary contact can trim your list, while also making it clear which communities will be important to visit in person.
    10. Go Visit. An in-person visit pays huge dividends when it comes to making an informed decision. Here’s what to watch for: How do residents and staff interact? What’s the mood of the community? Are residents actively engaged, sitting quietly or out of sight? Do you see safety features such as handrails, grab bars and emergency call systems? Is it clean? Is the decorating up to date? Does it feel like a place you could call home? Are you greeted promptly and with friendliness? Ask questions, take notes, and consider bringing along a friend or relative so you can join forces to observe everything.
    11. Review and Revisit. After completing the initial round of community visits, review your notes and observations. Narrow your list a little more by identifying which communities are good options and which you’d like to eliminate. Schedule a new round of visits to your shortened list of communities, making sure you return to each community at a different time than your last visit. Sample the food – many communities offer a free meal with a tour!
    12. Consult an Attorney. Before making a final decision, seek professional advice. Don’t go it alone … mistakes here can be very expensive, both financially and emotionally. Retirement community contracts can be very involved. So, make sure you understand the ins and outs of everything before you make a commitment.
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