Starting the Journey to Senior Living for Families

Considerations for Choosing the Right Supportive Living Community for a Family Member or Friend

Whether you are already planning a loved one’s move to a senior living community or just starting to research your options, HearthStone knows these transitions are never easy and are different for each individual. The process can be overwhelming, with multiple factors to consider including location, costs, healthcare, and more. You want to be assured that your loved one will find peace of mind at their new home and have everything they need to thrive, including a safe environment, a strong sense of community and the healthcare services they need to achieve their wellness goals. So how do you begin the journey to senior living?

Knowing the Signs

Every individual’s path to senior living is different and unique. However, there are signs along the way that can help confirm for families that supportive living for their loved ones might be needed. These signs often include:

  • Mobility issues becoming more prominent
  • Experiencing falls at home
  • Detectable memory or judgment issues beyond just normal age-related memory loss
  • Social disconnections with friends, family and neighbors
  • Wandering or other safety concerns regarding memory loss (leaving home door unlocked at bedtime, becoming lost or confused, forgetting to eat, and so forth)
  • Lack of personal hygiene or ability to care for personal needs
  • Absence of nearby family or friend support system for regular check-ins
  • Increased medical needs and/or inability to properly self-medicate as needed
  • Fluctuating emotional states, including sadness, anxiety, and loneliness
  • Observed weight loss or other nutritional concerns

Identify What You Want from a Senior Living Community

Determining what is most important to you in a senior living community is a tremendous benefit when the time comes to begin research and evaluation of assisted living or memory care communities. This process often involves honest conversations with your loved one, in addition to numerous trusted stakeholders, including family, friends, healthcare professionals and advisors.

Starting in reverse order, think of questions that you need to answer yourself, as well as potential senior living communities, and begin thinking about the answers you want to hear.

Examples of important questions that should be addressed may include:

  • What is the ideal location?
  • What are the costs?
  • What special care services or accommodations will my loved one need?
  • What kind of activities and programming are included?
  • What kind of training does the staff receive?
  • What is the resident to staff ratio?
  • What kind of meal services are available?
  • What kind of security features are in place?
  • Are there preparedness plans in place for potential pandemic outbreaks in the future?

Do Your Research

Experts agree that its far better to begin your search for supportive living communities long before a crisis sets in. Waiting until the final moment when a ‘placement’ of a loved one is necessary may lead to poor decision-making and increases the possibility of having to make yet another move at some point in the future. Proactively researching assisted living and memory care communities before a loved one takes a steep decline will allow for a better evaluation of options available and typically lead to more positive outcomes.

The amount of information available to caregivers can be overwhelming and seemingly endless, so it is recommended you compile, to the best of your ability, a list of assisted living or memory care communities in your area first. Then use multiple resources to learn more about those supportive living communities to either move them to the top of your list or cross them off as viable options. These resources may even turn up assisted living or memory care communities you may not have been aware of, however, be mindful that some resources are paid by certain assisted living facilities for their recommendations.

Examples of recommended resources include:

  • Word of mouth: Ask friends, relatives, neighbors, fellow civic or religious group members for their opinions and recommendations
  • Local or state agencies on aging: Perform online research for your local and state agencies on aging that act as advocates for older adults.
  • Industry trade groups: Senior living industry trade groups such as Leading Age and Argentum  offer directories to help seniors find the best solutions for their specific needs.
  • Geriatric Care Manager: A geriatric care manager is typically a licensed nurse or social worker who can help a senior, or their family, identify needs and find ways to meet those needs. They are aware of all of the assisted living and memory care providers in an area and can be especially helpful for family members who live outside the immediate area.

Schedule Tours of Your Top Choices

Taking an in-person tour of your top choices of assisted living or memory care communities is one the best ways to determine if their offerings are right for your loved one. It is an opportunity to compare your list of priorities against what the community is able to provide, at the level that meets your expectations. Questions that you’ll want to ask of yourself during these tours should include: 

  • Were you warmly greeted when you arrived?
  • Do the residents look happy and healthy?
  • Are residents engaging with each other or the staff in a meaningful way? 
  • Is the community well-lit, clean and home-like?
  • Do you see positive signs of programs for social, wellness and entertainment?
  • How do you find the dining? Are dining staff friendly and courteous? 
  • Can you envision yourself or your loved one living here?
  • Is the person giving the tour really listening to you describe your loved one’s situation or are they seemingly reading from a prepared script?
  • How does the community stand out from other assisted living or memory care communities? 
  • What do you see that makes this community better, different and special?

A Trusted Name in Senior Living

HearthStone Senior Living puts people at the center of everything they do. With a wellness-centered approach that allows residents to live the life they love, in a home where they can feel secure, HearthStone is truly a home with heart. HearthStone’s Salus™ and Valeo™ by Solvere philosophies are centered around holistic wellness that incorporates four pillars: physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual wellbeing, to help residents achieve their goals.

Just as Salus is integrated into everything we do, our Valeo philosophy drives our industry-leading training programs, which teach even non-clinical team members how to compassionately support the day-to-day needs of residents with memory challenges. Our team members are purposefully trained to take the time to truly get to know each resident and constantly seek opportunities to create moments of joy and meaning.

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