So … you or your loved one has decided it’s time for assisted living. Now what? Take the stress out of choosing an assisted living community by following these tips and resources.
Determine where you want to look. Are you interested in a particular town, city or region? Do you want to be within a certain driving distance from loved ones? Use these factors to identify the geographic area you’re searching in.
Research communities in your geographic area. Be specific in your search – you want assisted living, not other types of senior housing such as independent living or nursing homes. If you don’t find assisted living in your area, you might want to broaden your geographic region slightly. As you do your research, be aware that assisted living regulations vary by state. The National Center for Assisted Living provides a review.
Identify your must-haves and nice-to-haves. Amenities vary from community to community, so it’s important to know your priorities before you start touring facilities. Most communities offer dining, housekeeping and transportation, but some offer perks like onsite salons, gyms, spas, libraries and game rooms. Do you have pets? If so, make sure pet amenities are on the list. Will you have frequent visitors? Make sure guest parking is available.
Schedule tours of your top picks. AARP has a handy printable checklist to help you compare facilities. Some information, such as number of units, might be available on their website; while other features you will need to ask about. Try to keep an open mind with each tour. It’s common to get attached to the first one you see, but others might be even better or more suitable to your needs!
Sit down with your finances. First, establish your income from all sources, including family support, social security, pensions, 401(k), etc. Then look at owned assets such as homes, cars and property – minus the amount owed on these items. Identify your monthly expenses above and beyond what assisted living will provide. With these pieces of information, you can quickly determine what level of assisted living you can afford. Ideally, you will want to consult an independent financial advisor or trusted family member/friend for help determining what you can afford.
Read the fine print. Once you have identified your top choice, and your budget to cover it, you will be ready to take the next step. But always be sure to read contracts and terms carefully, to make sure you’re getting the best value and quality of life for your money.
Assisted living is a great option for seniors who need some support but still want to maintain an independent lifestyle. Congratulations on taking the first step toward choosing a community that’s right for you or your loved one!