Outdoor view of the side of a residential building at Masonicare.

How to Find The Right Senior Living Community

Like so many adult children, you may have noticed changes in your aging parent(s) that may indicate a change in their living situation is needed.  For many families, finding the right senior living community is an ideal option. However, this task can sometimes appear a bit daunting. Here are some helpful guidelines and tips that make it easier to find the right community for someone you love. 

  1. Plan Ahead, if Possible
    First, try not to wait until a health crisis forces your hand; it’s much easier to make decisions when you and your loved one don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision. It’s much less stressful to talk about senior living communities in terms of “future planning” than in terms of deciding now. 
  2. Learn About the Choices Out There
    Today, there are so many innovative living options open to seniors looking for increased security, healthcare support, well-being, connection, and socialization. Here are some senior living community basics to get familiar with:
    Get to know the features and benefits of different senior living communities (amenities, social programs, health, and wellness services vary widely). By getting information in advance of a conversation with your parent, you’ll have a good overview of the senior living landscape. This also shows you’ve given the subject thought and want to help your loved one make a choice that they are comfortable with.
    • Explore the differences between Independent, Assisted Living and Memory Care communities and which of these may be right for your parent.
    • Find out why a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), also known as a Life Plan Community, may be the ideal senior living option to “age in place.”
    • Learn how a not-for-profit community differs from a for-profit community.
  3. Be Mindful of Your Parents’ Feelings 
    So how do you broach the subject of a move to a senior living community? It’s best to start the conversation with broad, open-ended questions, such as,
    • “What does a peace of mind mean to you now?”
    • “What kinds of concerns do you have for your future?”
    • “What do you like most about living in your own home?”
    “What don’t you like?” Understanding what is important to them will help you to assist in finding the right place for them to call home. Be prepared that, regardless of the degree of independence they’ll have there, a move to a community may make them feel like they’re no longer capable of living on their own. On the other hand, your loved one(s) may feel relieved you’re helping them address worries they have about the future. The important thing is to listen to and acknowledge their feelings, fears, and hopes.
  4. Visit Communities Together
    After you’ve discussed various senior living options, include your loved one in the actual “hands-on" search process. Take your parent(s) to visit communities they might consider. Encourage them to talk with current residents. Many communities offer the opportunity to come for a meal, an event or even an overnight stay to sample what life is like for residents. Give your parent ample time to explore and consider the options open to them. Remember, like any major transition, this is a process that needs time and sensitivity on your part.
  5. Highlight the Positives 
    Focus on the services available in their potential new home, such as having housekeeping or a professional chef that will prepare nutritious and tasty meals. Highlight social activities and other amenities. Remind them they won’t have to worry about yard work, snow removal, or home repairs that are labor-intensive, exhausting, or costly. Most of all, be sure your parent understands that they are deciding to make the move and you’ll support them no matter what.
  6. Envision Their New home
    The thought of leaving the family home is often the biggest stumbling block for many older adults. They’ve grown accustomed to their house and they might be challenged by moving into someplace smaller.

A specialist in senior moving might be the solution. Many communities offer services that make the entire move much easier, less stressful (and maybe even fun!).  Moving consultants can create digital floor plans to show your parent how everything will look and fit in a smaller home. They’ll ship leftover items to relatives or to auctions. They’ll even come into the new residence and make sure every detail is done right so it feels like home from the start.

Taking this important next step with your loved one can be the start of a great new life chapter. The Masonicare HelpLine, your Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and the AARP offer many resources and are here to help.