You need to help your parents choose the right assisted living community – but how do you start? With all the options available, it’s not easy to know which steps to take first. Or, more importantly, which steps not to take. As you and your loved ones consider the next phase of their lives, take a look at some of these common assisted living search mistakes and learn how you can avoid them.
1. Be Realistic About Current and Future Needs
When choosing the right path for your assisted living needs, make sure you have a realistic handle on what your loved ones will want or need – not just immediately, but five or 10 years down the road. For instance, if your loved ones struggle with remembering details or directions, you may want to consider a smaller, cozier community where staff is readily available to help out anytime. Remember that you will want to choose a place that can adapt to the growing or changing needs of your parents over the longer term. It’s impossible to know exactly what the future holds, but taking time to research communities with the best range of options will help you be prepared when the time comes to move.
2. Choose a Community to Match Your Parents’ Needs (not yours)
It’s tempting to find a community you like and take care of all the details yourself. However, it’s important to remember that you are not the one who will be living there. Your biggest priority should be making sure all your parents’ needs are met so they can continue to thrive in this community. If you’re not exactly sure what they want or need, ask! Talk with your parents about the needs you see and find out which needs they see. Discuss things like living space, storage, location, and any other details that will help you and your loved ones come to the best decision together.
3. Read the Fine Print
When you bought your last car, did you just hand over a check and sign your name on the contract without reading it first? Probably not. The same should be true with an assisted living community. Make sure you take the time to go over each detail before choosing a community for your parents. It may be a tedious process when you begin, but you and your loved ones will be much more comfortable knowing there are no surprises down the road. We know not everyone is an expert in understanding fine print – this would be a great opportunity to consult the family attorney or speak with a staff member about any questions you have.
4. Take Your Time in Making a Buying Decision
It’s not easy to make decisions like these – and that’s why we encourage you to take your time! Do your research online, make phone calls, and get the opinions of trusted family or friends (after you consult your parents) before signing any agreements. Consider narrowing down the choices to the top three and making a pro and con list for each so you can easily look at how each facility compares to others. If you have friends whose loved ones have recently moved to an assisted living community, give them a call to find out what advice they wish they had received when making their choice.
5. How Close Does the Facility Need to Be?
They say location is everything – and that is true for assisted living communities, too! You and your parents need to decide how close they would like to be to both their existing residence and to you or other family members. Remember that just because they are moving doesn’t mean you won’t want to visit, so keep that in mind as you explore different options. That community in Florida might look tempting, but your parents might prefer to stay close to their grandchildren, friends, or local organizations they participate in. Or, if they are struggling with cold weather, look for some places that stay warm year-round but are close to local airports and highways so you can visit regularly. Take some time to discuss what is the most practical for your whole family.
6. Investigate Thoroughly
When it comes to choosing a new place for your parents to live, you want to research well. We are fortunate to live in an age where a lot of information is available on our computers or phones, so take advantage of these resources and find as much information as you can about your loved ones’ potential new home. Look for reviews of the community from other residents or family members of residents, and take note of any complaints or comments that appear on multiple reviews. You should also take a tour of the community before making a final decision. Some places might seem perfect on paper, but when you take a tour you will realize that your parents might struggle with the number of steps in the community, or that they would prefer to live closer to more shops. There are all sorts of factors that are best evaluated in person.
7. Seek Professional Help (with Harmony)
There are a lot of decisions to be made before you can feel confident you have chosen the right community for your parents – and we know it feels overwhelming! That’s why we’re here. Our team can assist you with everything from the smallest detail to the biggest decisions. Using a professional service like Harmony can streamline the process for you while also answering the important questions you have.