Even though the senior population is steadily increasing, only a small portion of this growing demographic lives in senior living communities and other institutions. “In the U.S., 27% of adults ages 60 and older live alone (pewresearch.org).”
While the number of senior living residents is growing every year, senior living is still a somewhat niche industry. If it doesn’t affect you, you probably don’t know much about it.
For this reason, a lot of people can feel overwhelmed, uninformed, and downright confused when it comes time to begin the senior living search for their parents or older family members. With so many options for care, new vocabulary terms, and other factors to consider, it can be easy to feel in over-your-head.
Franklin Park® Senior Living offers independent living, assisted living, and memory care services at communities throughout the San Antonio, Texas, area. We’ve created this guide to help you and your family navigate the sometimes complicated senior living search, including where to begin, what to consider, and how to find the perfect community for someone you love.
1. Understanding Types of Senior Living
First and foremost, it’s necessary to understand the different types of senior care options. Typically, the term “senior living” covers a broad range of care and housing options that differ in the level of assistance, but all provide housing, dining, activities, and support. The different types of senior living include:
Independent Living: This type of lifestyle is for active and independent adults who have little to no health issues. Independent living is similar to living in an apartment community, but with the bonuses of housekeeping, dining, and social opportunities.
Assisted Living: The goal of assisted living is to help individuals live as independently as possible with assistance available. This type of lifestyle is for adults who need help and support with one or more activities of daily living (ADLs).
Memory Care: This type of care is for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. They will receive the same support and services as assisted living but with additional cognitive stimulation and dedicated memory care programming.
Once you understand the degrees of care available, you can determine which option is right for your family member and narrow your search.
Search Term Tip: As you begin your research, it can help to know what terms are used to yield the most relevant search results. For example:
- Search senior living communities instead of senior living facilities.
- While nursing home is a term that may come to mind, nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities provide comprehensive medical care. Unless your family member has a critical medical condition, they most likely need a senior living community.
- Avoid ageist terms like old folk’s home and place for senior citizens.
2. Establish a Budget
The cost of senior living in Texas can vary, but it’s important to remember that this cost includes housing, meals, maintenance, care, and entertainment. Take a look at your parent’s finances and create a realistic budget for monthly expenses. Don’t forget about other resources that could help, like VA benefits or long-term care insurance.
3. Make a List of “Must-Haves”
Create a list of services and amenities that are non-negotiable when it comes to your family member’s future home. Some factors to consider could include:
- Pet friendliness
- Proximity to hospitals, airports, and other conveniences
- Floor plan availability and design (Do they have full kitchens, safety features, etc.?)
- Availability to move through care levels (Can your parent(s) stay in the community and transition from independent living to assisted living if needed?)
- Fitness center and wellness programs
- Quality of meals and dining experience
- Staff-to-resident ratio
- Transportation services and parking options
- Availability and qualifications of staff (Can you parent(s) still see their usual primary care physician?)
- Emergency response systems
- Proximity to family members
- Opportunities for social interaction, activities, and programs
4. Evaluate Your Options
Once you have a solid list of potential communities, assess each one thoroughly. As you would for any other big purchase, look at the websites, read online reviews, and ask friends or colleagues if they have any experience or advice.
Gain as much knowledge as you can about each of your options before reaching out and making initial contact.
5. Visit (and Revisit)
As much as you can learn about a community online, nothing gives you a better understanding than going and seeing the community for yourself. Reach out to the community and confirm that they are currently offering tour options. While virtual tours are convenient, in-person visits will offer a more personal experience of the community.
Schedule a time to view the campus and make a point to observe things like:
- How do the staff and the residents interact?
- Do the residents seem happy and engaged?
- Are there visible safety features?
- Is it clean, modern, and inviting?
- Is it a place you would feel confident moving your parent?
Touring a community is the best way to get a feel for what life is like there. You can even tour communities multiple times as you narrow your list. If this will be your parent’s new home, you want to be thorough!
6. Make The Decision
Once you feel confident in your choice, talk with the community’s staff about the next steps. There may be a waiting list, or they may be ready for your family member to move in. They can help guide through the process and transition from this point forward.
The senior living search can be intimidating for those unfamiliar with the industry, but with the right preparation, organization, and research, you can ensure that your parent or family member finds a community that meets their needs and feels like home.
Franklin Park® Senior Living has resort-style senior living communities throughout San Antonio, Texas, offering independent living, assisted living, and memory care. If you have any questions about how to start the senior living search, or if a Franklin Park® Senior Living community is right for you, reach out to our team today.