Getting started can be overwhelming but here are a few things to think about.  One of the things I can help you with is compiling a list of what you need and what questions to ask based on your specific loved one's situation. Everyone looking for senior living has different needs.

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Things to Consider when you begin looking.

What are the different types of facilities?

This depends on your loved one's needs. These are the main options for senior living but you want to make sure before you go visit one that you call to confirm that they are in fact the type of facility you need and that they will be able to provide the services your family member needs. Many facilities say they “assist” but the assistance may not cover your specific needs. Remember to consider future needs in your choice. Your loved one will only need more services as they get older not less. You do not want to choose a facility and then a few months later find out they need something the facility can’t provide. Independent Living Communities offer private places for active older adults. Dining facilities, housekeeping services, transportation, and 24-hour staffing may be offered on site, as well as medical, dietary and other assistance when needed. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) offer many levels of options under “one roof” providing a continuum of care. It is different from other housing and care options for seniors because it usually provides a written agreement or long-term contract between the resident and the community, for housing, and services. Assisted Living Residences provide a combination of housing, personalized support services and health care designed to meet the individual needs of seniors who require help with daily activities. Nursing homes or Skilled Nursing Facilities provide 24-hour skilled nursing care for residents who require a high degree of assistance and medical care. They provide care for chronic conditions, short-term convalescent or rehabilitative care. Memory Care Communities have specially trained staff, licensed nurses, secure facilities, and cognitive and physical therapies for person-centered care designed for residents with Alzheimer’s and other related dementia illnesses.

Should I take my family member with me to visit the facilities?

If your family member is more than able to make decisions and care for themselves then they should absolutely go with you to visit different facilities. Be careful not to visit too many in one day as it can be very overwhelming for the elderly to see so much and hear so much information in one day. It can cause a lot of anxiety. What I suggest is finding out what they need or want and then screening out places in advance to narrow down the ones to show them. If you have a family member that needs a lot of care and is nervous about the move I think going to visit many on your own might be best. After gathering as much information as you can and then narrowing down the choices then you can take them around and show them what you have found.

What town should I look in and how far do I want to drive to see my family member?

You should be willing to look in several towns to try and find the best facility that meets your needs, however the amount of time you will be visiting or caring for your loved one is important when choosing a facility. If you will need to assist every day then you may want a facility that is close to your home. If you may only be visiting weekly then you may be able to go a bit farther away.

Is driving around and seeing what many of these senior living facilities look like outside a good way to know which places are the best?

You certainly want a place that looks nice and feels happy inside but especially with these types of facilities in particular you should never judge a facility by how it looks. There are many beautiful buildings with terrible care inside and of course many old buildings that have superior care. So never make a decision based solely on what any place looks like in or out.