Top 10 Senior Housing Researching Tips

Senior Housing Researching Tips

Selecting a senior living community is a complicated process.  Here are the top 10 senior housing researching tips.

1).   Consult with a senior housing advisor.   Make your life easier by consulting with an expert who is familiar with all the options in the area and someone who takes the time to understand your wants, needs and desires.  Ideally, this advisor should be looking after your best interest and have a fiduciary relationship  with you.  Understand how the advisor is compensated since some advisors will collect commissions from the senior housing community they recommend to you which may not be in your best interest.  This is could be a huge conflict of interest.

2).   Determine where you want to live.   This might seem basic, but it is amazing how many people research senior housing communities in areas that they know they don’t want to live.  Speak with your family and determine geographically where you want to live.  Once you have narrowed this down, try to narrow it down even further by zeroing in on specific areas within that geographic zone.  This will help you pin-point your research.

3).   Determine your time frame.   There is a saying we have in this business.  “It is better to be 5 years to early than 5 minutes too late.”  Many quality senior housing communities have medical acceptance criteria to move in; therefore if you wait too long, you may not get accepted.  Think about your time frame and what needs to occur between now and then. Keep in mind that researching various senior housing communities will take some time, so you probably want to start earlier than what you imagine.  Some senior housing communities have wait lists, so it might be necessary to get your name on a list before you are able to move in.

4).  Review policies and procedures.   Understanding the rules of the senior housing community is something that many people fail to do before they move in. Some examples include:  Is there a dress code?  What is the pet policy?   Can you use your extra meals for guests?  What are the qualifications of the person who is responding to your apartment in case of an emergency?   As a senior housing advisor, this is an area were true expertise helps to ask questions that you may not know to ask.   It is always a good idea to get a copy of any agreements you will be expected to sign and have your attorney review these documents.

5).  Tour one senior housing community per day.    Visiting a senior housing community take a lot of energy.  Call ahead and schedule a personal tour of the senior housing community.  Where comfortable shoes since you should be prepared to  walk some distances during your visit.  Take notes and ask questions that you want to ask.  Keep in mind that not only do you want to look at apartment floor plans, but more importantly, you want to get a feel of the lifestyle of the community.  Can you see yourself living at this senior housing community?

6).  Tour the health care facility.  One of the main reasons you are considering a move to senior living community is for the peace of mind of on-site health care services, therefore touring the health care facility is a must in your research.   When touring the health care center, pay attention to how the residents are being treated by the staff.  Take a look at the activity calendar and the menu.   Observe if the facility appears clean and fresh.  If possible, speak with family members to see if their loved one is receiving quality care.   Most states conduct annual inspections.  Ask to see the inspections reports for the last couple of years.

7).   Sample activities and dining.   As part of your research, it is important to sample the lifestyle of the senior housing community you are considering.  Take a look at their activity calendar to see if there program that interest you.  Maybe there is an exercise class you can join in on.  Maybe you are join a bridge group to see if the other residents are similar to you.    It is also a good idea to have dinner at the community.   You might be offered lunch, however dinner is where you will meet the majority of residents.  The more can get a feel of the lifestyle of the community, the better you will be able to determine if this is the right community for you.  Your transition will also be much easier since you will already know some people when you move in.

8).  Understand the pricing structure.   It is important that you fully understand the pricing structure of the senior housing community you are considering.  What are the refund provisions?  What is extra?    Is future care included or do you pay extra for it?   What has been the history of rate increases?   It is also important to understand how financial stable this senior living community is?   The last thing you want to do is move to a place and later find out that this community is having some financial challenges.

9).  Look beyond the glossy brochure.   You receive a beautiful brochure in the mail and you think you’ve found nirvana.  Everyone looks so youthful and happy in the photos.  The community is clean and immaculate.   Unfortunately, these are paid models in the photos and the community photos are staged.   Yes, its a good starting point, however there is much more to your research than the brochure.

10).  Make an educated decision.   Utilize the resources you have to help you make an educated decision. Consult with a senior housing advisor to gain valuable insight into the senior communities you are considering.  Ask questions and find a community that fits your lifestyle.  Take your time, but don’t wait too long.

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