Who will take care of me? This is a question that millions of seniors in the United States ask themselves every day. We are constantly being bombarded with advertising for home health care, assisted living residences, senior housing and adult day care. But how do you know when it’s the right time to start looking into your senior living options?
Unfortunately, too many people don’t make this decision until a crisis presents itself. When this happens, a family member usually has to make a rushed decision without direct input from the senior. Seniors should start the conversation early and evaluate all their options, giving them time to make a decision they’ll be happy with.
Based on my own family’s life experience and those of others near and dear to me, I wish to offer seniors some advice and counsel:
Start the conversation now. The best time to evaluate the options is when you don’t need them. Visit assisted living residences, continuing care retirement communities and independent senior communities in the local area. It’s good to visit different facilities, check out the offered activities, speak with current residents and meet with administrators to get a sense of the lifestyle. Even if you aren’t looking to move into one of the communities that day, facility administrators will still take the time to provide you with the necessary information.
Be honest with yourself. Just because staying at home may seem more appealing or convenient that doesn’t mean it is the best thing for you. Have you properly and objectively accessed your surroundings? Are you at risk of falling? Are there too many stairs? Can you safely get in and out of the shower or bath? Can you properly maintain your home? Do you have the financial capabilities to cover the cost of needed renovations? These are all questions you need to ask yourself before you decide to stay in your home.
Control the decision. Meet with your family, an elder lawyer and a financial advisor to plan your expenses now and ensure a high quality of life in the future. Determine the most important decisions for you. It could be living close to your existing community, moving closer to family, having continuing care or living independently for as long as possible. The good news is there are options to meet everyone’s needs. Early planning can be the difference between you controlling the decision and someone making it for you.
Starting the conversation early and thoroughly researching your options will enable you to make the right decision. Being in control of your situation versus being forced into making a decision based on medical need or a crisis will provide a more comfortable and overall better outcome.