For many healthy and active older people, the prospect of moving into a senior living community seems like a far-off concern. However, even if you still have years of living on your own ahead of you, it can be a wise decision to get on a waitlist for the senior living community of your choosing. Here’s a closer look at why sooner than later is better when it comes to this important decision.
Many Considerations, More Time
Senior care is a complex and multi-factored issue. What’s right for one person is not necessarily right for another. For starters, there are many different types of senior living communities, ranging from independent living to assisted living to nursing care.
In addition, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), like Deupree House, offer a full continuum of care, from fully independent apartments to independent living with assistance to long-term care or rehabilitation in a state-of-the-art skilled nursing center. Familiarizing yourself with each of these options as they pertain to your own retirement goals can help you narrow down your preferences.
"Care services and amenities also vary widely. For example, some facilities may provide a resident doctor, skilled-nursing care and physical therapy, whereas others provide little care. Some communities have concierge services, in-apartment dining, happy hours and top-notch fitness centers; others don’t offer much more than transport to doctors’ appointments."
But determining the level of senior living you’re looking for is just the beginning of the process. All communities are different with varying care services and amenities available.
Explains Kiplinger: “Care services and amenities also vary widely. For example, some facilities may provide a resident doctor, skilled-nursing care and physical therapy, whereas others provide little care. Some communities have concierge services, in-apartment dining, happy hours and top-notch fitness centers; others don’t offer much more than transport to doctors’ appointments.”
Thoroughly researching and touring several different communities is the best way to identify the one that best suits your personal wants, needs and budget. The earlier you begin this process, the more confidence you’ll have in your choice. You’ll also have more peace of mind once the decision is made.
Avoiding the “Crisis-Driven Decision”
While it may not be pleasant to contemplate a future in which you can no longer live on your own, it’s an eventual reality for many seniors. But will space be available if you end up needing it?
Writes Richard Eisenberg for Next Avenue, “There’s a huge, scary disparity between the types of homes growing numbers of older Americans will need over the next 20 years and their availability and affordability.”
As of 2013, meanwhile, the country’s assisted living communities had an occupancy rate of 89 percent, meaning that your preferred community may be full by the time you need it.
This can lead to undesirable outcomes for older adults — especially if their circumstances have changed due to injury or illness.
Kiplinger shares the story of William Senior, who struggled with being unable to find suitable accommodations after his wife began requiring consistent care due to a fall. Senior’s conclusion? “I should have followed my son and daughter’s advice and moved more quickly.”
“There’s a huge, scary disparity between the types of homes growing numbers of older Americans will need over the next 20 years and their availability and affordability.”
For many seniors, the concept of senior living feels like a loss of control. However, getting on a waitlist while you can still make the choice on your own is actually one of the best ways to maintain control — even when the unthinkable happens.
Explains Maribeth Bersani, chief operating officer of Argentum, a national association which represents assisted-living facility operators, “It is usually a crisis-driven decision.”
And remember: Joining a senior living waitlist doesn't just impact you. You’ll also be sparing your loved ones from making difficult decisions on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to express your wishes. Getting on a waiting list early and solidifying your retirement plans is a gift to your loved ones.
Other Benefits of Senior Living Waitlists
The benefits of deciding on a senior living community early and putting yourself on the waitlist don’t end with making sure there’s enough room. Many senior living communities, including Deupree House, also let you reserve your favorite apartment, usually with a deposit. This ensures that you’ll have the living arrangement that best fits your lifestyle with the financial resources you have available.
So whether you want a room with a view on a top floor, or you’re looking for a particular size or style of apartment, the community will let you know when it becomes available so you can claim it, if you’re ready. And if not, you maintain your spot on the waitlist. In other words, it’s a win-win.
An added bonus: While most senior communities do require a deposit to be added to a waitlist, many of these deposits are fully refundable, and you always have the option to change your mind if you put your name on the waitlist. However, the same isn’t true if you opt not to put your name on the waitlist. You may find yourself with limited and less-than-optimal options.
Another potential advantage of being on a senior living waitlist: Some communities view future residents as “members” with access to events and amenities. By the time you move in, you'll already have a community of friends waiting for your arrival.
Because all senior living community waitlists are different, be sure you understand all of the details before signing on the dotted line. Americans are enjoying better health and living longer than ever before. Putting your name on a senior living waitlist can help you relax during your golden years while knowing that your housing future is secure.