Estate Planning Blog

How to Choose a Senior Living Community by Mike Awadalla, Owner of CarePatrol Walnut Creek

Choosing a Senior Living Community

Speak to anyone who has gone through the process and you’ll hear it over and over again: moving is at the top of the list of life’s most stressful events, ranking higher than getting married or going through a divorce. Selecting a senior living community can raise that stress level even higher. This emotional time is full of feelings ranging from concern about selecting the right senior living community and sadness at leaving the home you’ve created memories in with family and friends. The pressure can feel overwhelming.

At CarePatrol, we’re here to take the fear out of this complex process, helping you to understand the options available to you. As senior living advisors, we will work with you to determine the best options in your area and find one that fits your needs. We are proud to have vetted thousands of senior living options throughout the country. As you start the process, here are some elements to consider that can make the biggest difference to consider — and we’ll always be available to help!

Location is Important

As you would with selecting any new home, it is important to look for communities in areas that you want to live in. Factors that were once essential to consider like the rating of the local school system or proximity to your favorite nightlife may not have the same level of importance. Carefully consider the distance of the community to friends and family, your healthcare providers and favorite places like libraries, shopping and more. Don’t underestimate the difference that a seemingly small distance can make. Try to choose a place that is convenient to the things that matter most to you.

Examine Care Packages

Each senior living community will have a different pricing structure, so deep dive into the details. Take note of the two main pricing agreements, which are care/service packages and monthly rent. Compare apples to apples when putting the costs of two different communities against each other. If one has a lower monthly fee, does it also have fewer service options? Will it give you the elements you are looking for like meal plans and housekeeping services?

Whether you are helping a loved one make this important decision or if the choice is for your future living arrangements, make sure that the care package can aptly accommodate the current condition of the person making the move. Does it offer health monitoring services like personal emergency alerts and telemedicine opportunities? This is where extra fees can increase your monthly costs, so always clarify what is included and which options are not part of the plan.

Having a senior care advisor to advocate on your behalf can be a powerful ally in this process. He or she knows these communities well, can help you figure out the level of care necessary, and even negotiate the right plan for your family.

The Level of Care Needed

Senior living communities come in different forms including assisted living, independent living and nursing homes. These are the main three categories.

Since every person is unique and every situation is different, factors like budget, needs and preferences will help guide the decision-making process.

Explore the services that a community can provide to make sure that it meets your list of requirements. Ask about services like specialized memory care, physical therapy, accessibility features in the building, activities and even if you are allowed to have pets in the building. CarePatrol can assist in prioritizing the aspects you are looking for in a community with a quick assessment.

Social Activities Count

How are the culture and community of the senior living community that you are considering? It is essential to make sure that you factor in this as well as things like cost, location and healthcare support. When a community is a good match for you, your comfort level will increase and it will truly feel like home, increasing your long-term happiness.

Don’t be shy. When you deep dive into communities that are of interest, request a list of amenities available as well as activities that residents can participate in. Do they align with your hobbies and interests? Another item to ask about is an on-site program of exercise classes or equipment to stay physically fit and engaged.

You may be surprised by the number of amenities available to residents at senior living communities, custom-tailored to the passions and activities that people want to explore. There’s no better time to pick up a paintbrush again, spend time in a communal gardening plot or spend time with your furry friends in a pet-friendly area. If a community doesn’t feel like it supports an active and vibrant culture, continue your research, since you may be surprised by the amazing programs that are offered.

Budget For the Short and Long Term

A very real concern for families is determining a budget. Don’t assume that a senior living community is out of your price range. With the substantial cost of upkeep and home maintenance, the services fees for living at a senior community can be comparable. By spending some time breaking down your budget now and making a comparison to communities in a line-by-line fashion, you can see which options make the most sense for your budget and peace of mind.

Future planning is relevant as age can bring new health challenges. Investigate what communities can offer to handle these changes that may occur, especially regarding progressive disease management or unexpected hospitalizations. Look for options like Continuing Care Retirement Communities, also known as CCRCs or Life Plan Communities, which resemble small towns with a variety of housing options. You’ll find a continuum of care options from independent living to rehabilitative care so if and when more care is required, it is available.

Senior Advisors Make All The Difference

With all of the possibilities and options out there, you and your family may feel overwhelmed in making the right decision for yourself or a loved one. Having a trusted advisor at this emotionally charged time will ensure you have the information you need to make the best choice. At CarePatrol, we are proud to offer our intimate knowledge of communities as well as work on your behalf to help ease the stress during community visits and even on move-in day. Our services are available at absolutely no cost to you and we have over 150 locations across the United States. We are the largest senior solutions franchise in the country and we’re humbled to be the brand that Americans trust. We’ve been helping families find senior housing solutions since 1993. Let us help you.

About Mike Awadalla, Owner of Care Patrol Walnut CreekMike Awadalla, Owner of Care Patrol Walnut Creek

Mike considers himself passionate about empowering seniors and their families as they navigate the oftentimes challenging process of finding the best possible senior living scenarios. He carefully evaluates to all of his client’s needs, concerns and preferences before recommending appropriate levels of care such as Independent Living, Assisted Senior Housing, Memory Care, or In-Home Care. Mike went through the same daunting experience recently when he helped find care for a family member on the San Francisco Peninsula. This experience gave him the passion that he has today to help families.

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