Seniors and their caregivers face a steep learning curve when they begin researching senior living communities. As a medical professional, you can help them navigate the variety of available services and guide seniors to a community that supports their health care requirements.

Here are some questions you can use to help your patients start to think about the medical considerations associated with selecting a senior living community.

1. When is the right time for assisted living?
Your patients and their families may have a difficult time identifying when a senior is no longer able to live independently. Knowing the signs that it’s time to consider assisted living can help you better advise your patients.

2. What type of senior care does my loved one need?
Your patients and their families may not understand the differences among assisted living, memory care and other long-term care services. When you assess seniors’ health and mobility, discuss the long-term care options that will best meet their needs, explaining to them the key differences among the various care settings.

3. What should we do during transitions?
Seniors who are ill or injured might make several moves between different communities. At various points, they may be in a hospital, rehabilitation community or a loved one’s home. Gaps in care or insufficient communication during these transitions harm the health of your patient—and their perception of senior living communities.

Ask what they plan to do if they have a change in health status. Encourage them to share that plan with family members. Let them know how you would like them or their families to inform you of hospitalizations or rehabilitation stays. Think about the role you will play in these situations if they arise.

4. Who will pay for long-term care?
Patients and their families may not be aware of the costs associated with senior living communities, what payer sources are available and under what circumstances, or have a plan to pay for an extended stay. Guide your patients to research the financial assistance options that may be available to help them cover the costs of assisted living or another care setting. Suggest they reach out to a financial professional.

5. What should I look for in a long-term care community?
Many seniors and their families don’t know what type of medical service or quality indicators to look for in an assisted living community, and assisted living communities can vary greatly in the level of clinical support provided. Your insight can be invaluable to patients and families who ask you for guidance.

This guide can help them ask the right questions when they visit senior living communities.

6. Can an assisted living community care for all my needs?
Seniors’ needs go far beyond housing, nutrition and medication management. They have social needs. Emotional needs. Spiritual needs. They need to know their voices are heard and that they still have skills and talents to contribute to their community. Fulfilling these needs can have a direct impact on a patient’s physical health.

You can provide a valuable service by reminding seniors and their families to look for care options that cover all areas of wellness.

These resources may help you guide your patients: