Everyone aspires to live independently for as long as possible, but the physical, emotional, and mental changes that may occur with age can make it difficult to keep up with the myriad demands of daily life, such as maintaining the house and yard, paying bills, bathing and dressing, cultivating a social life, and running essential errands. When that time comes, assisted living villages are residential options that provide the level of daily support you need while helping you remain as independent as possible. These facilities are an excellent choice for seniors who need more care services than they can get at home or an independent living retirement community, but who don't need the around-the-clock medical attention and monitoring provided by a nursing home.
Even if you're excited about the opportunity to get some extra help and meet new friends, it can be overwhelming to make the decision to leave your home for an assisted living village. Likewise, family members can also find it stressful to help a loved one make this important and life-changing decision. Taking the time to determine your care needs as well as personal preferences and to carefully investigate assisted living village options can make all the difference in having a successful and fulfilling transition.
Assisted living villages are available in a range of designs, sizes, and styles, with some providing apartment living and others offering suites or single or shared rooms. But they all share one common goalto offer residents the safety and security of access to professional, caring support 24 hours a day. Independence is encouraged, but residents can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing knowledgeable help is a phone call away. Most facilities also provide a group dining area and comfortable common spaces for social and recreational activities. Quality assisted living villages work with each resident to develop a personalized plan for meeting their needs, while providing as many opportunities for independence as possible.
To decide whether assisted living is right for you, ask yourself:
As you investigate your options, it might seem like there are an endless number of assisted living villages. Knowing your needs and determining your preferences will help you narrow in on facilities that are ideal for you. For example, some seniors want a smaller, more sedate community where "everybody knows your name," while others prefer a larger, college-campus-like setting that is bustling with activity.
A tip for evaluating sites is to remember what really matters, which is the feeling you get from residents and staff. You want to be surrounded by seniors who make you comfortable and happy. Similarly, staff members should be highly knowledgeable, trained, kind, warm, and dedicated to ensuring your well-being. Second to assessing the overall "feeling" of the environment, consider the quality of the facility's amenities, such as common areas, social events, recreational opportunities (e.g., pool and exercise equipment), outdoor space (e.g., lawns, benches, walking paths, and water features), transportation, and proximity to your friends and family.
Different things will be important to different people. My husband's grandparents chose a luxury assisted living village that allowed them to live in a fully equipped modern apartment, one of 1,750 on the campus. They had 24x7 access to highly skilled care, as well as an onsite market, beauty salon, art studio, gym, post office, pool, and more. They had their own kitchen but usually opted to meet friends in the dining hall for meals. And they often attended the nightly happy hour in their building's common area. Regardless of the amenities you seek out, there are some basic requirements for any assisted living village. It must be safe, friendly, clean, and well maintained. If an assisted living village meets your criteria and makes you feel at home, put it on your short list.
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Here are some additional considerations to help make your selection:
For most seniors and their families, cost will be a deciding factor in choosing an assisted living village. Facilities can range in cost from $800 to $4,000 a month or more. Much like when buying a home, it can be helpful to prioritize your requirements from must-have to wish list to doesn't really matter. This can help you determine the value of each facility in relation to your unique situation.
Talk to the appropriate staff at each assisted living village to find out what kind of payment assistance, such as insurance or government help, they can help you arrange. However, most of your costs will be paid out of pocket. In discussing costs with the facility, make sure they explain exactly how you will be billed for your residency. After the upfront cost, is it like an all-inclusive resort or do you get a monthly tab? You should also find out how much it will cost to increase your medical services if you need them down the road. Walk away from any assisted living village that isn't open and honest about fees and rate changes.