Now that the chaotic holidays are behind us, time spent with your elderly loved ones confirmed what you had suspected: they are no longer able to consistently care for themselves alone. It’s painful to watch a parent struggle through the challenges of senior care when they live independently, and yet you know how much they prize the ability to do for themselves. It’s a tough position to be in, but you suspect Mom or Dad is ready for an assisted living community. What are your next steps?
Enlist Your Parent’s Participation
Once Mom (or Dad) has accepted the fact that a change is for the best, have honest conversations that allow you to determine your parent’s wishes for her next home. She may want a pet-friendly community, one with an active arts league, or a community in which physical activities are plentiful. Would she like to reside in a quiet country setting, or would she be happier just a short bus ride from downtown?
Figure out the Finances
Doing the math to determine what your family can afford may take some collaboration and creative planning. If Dad is a veteran, consult with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Association of State Veterans Homes to determine his eligibility for long-term senior care. You might consider selling the house or using a reverse mortgage if one of your parents will remain in the home. Is there a stock portfolio to liquidate or a life insurance policy that can be sold? Mom and Dad may even have been savvy enough to have purchased long-term care insurance.
Consult a Senior Living Advisor
A compassionate and knowledgeable senior living advisor can help your family assess your needs and resources and draft a list of viable communities that match. You are not charged for this help, and you receive an insider’s perspective on the unique features of each senior community to help you focus in on the one best suited to your parent’s situation.
Inspect Potential Communities in Person
Once you and your parent have narrowed your list of prospective candidates down to a few communities, ask your senior living advisor to schedule visits for you. Even if the community looks perfect on the website and the marketing copy says all the right things, you will know much more about the appropriateness of a choice once you see it with your own eyes.
Experts suggest that you plan your visit for mealtime so that you can sample the food and get a feel for the mood of the residents and staff. It’s also a good idea to pop in unannounced when you’ve got your final candidates nailed down to see how “life as usual” proceeds when no one is watching.
Weigh the Pros and Cons
Draft up a list outlining the benefits and disadvantages of each final contender. Allow your parent’s preference to carry heavy weight as leaving a longtime home may feel like a loss of control and dignity. Solicit input from the family members involved, as well as your senior living advisor. Read reviews from other families who have been in your shoes on SeniorAdvisor.com, American’s largest senior living review site.
Examine the background of any community you are considering by consulting the licensing agency in the state that monitors facilities.
Choose and Move
Once you’re at peace with your choice of a senior care community, downsizing, packing, purchasing furniture for the new home, and hiring professional movers will follow. Choose the most comfortable method of travel for your parent, perhaps flying her if the destination is a long drive. Although it’s a big change for everyone involved, remember that you are doing the very best thing possible for your beloved parent to ensure a safe and superior quality of life.