Senior Residences -After the “Why “consider the “Where” 


Senior Residences - a move with many considerationsSenior Residences  are part of  a big decision  Older Adults and their grown children need to consider when deciding the best place to reside. Most Americans prefer to remain in their own home — for as long as possible. This is very possible for the majority of seniors. In fact, the percentage of elderly folks living in a Nursing Home (the highest level of care) is around 6 percent. So the rest are living in at home (or family member’s),  or other types of Senior Residences; Independent Living or Assisted Living Community, Memory Care or a Group Home type of Residence.

As we get older, into our 80s, 90s and beyond, physical health, cognitive decline and disease are the usual reasons an individual or family member seeks an alternative level of care. Hiring a caregiver/aide can keep you or your loved one at home for a very long time. For end of life care, remaining at home is also possible through Hospice/Palliative care – when you qualify.

Determining “Level of Care”

If home is no longer a viable option, or you decide to move from living alone and maintaining a home to relocating to a communal setting with services and activities, then researching options is called for.  A Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) or Placement Specialist can meet with you or your elder parent and assess the level of care needed and type of Senior Residence to suggest.  Mobility, cognitive ability (Dementia), medication requirements, self-care – hygiene and toileting (ADLs) are evaluated and results given.  If a move from home into a Senior Residence is decided upon, are you going to remain in the same area or relocate closer to family – usually a son or daughter? Once the area is chosen and the level of care determined, then a tour of a few places should begin.  Remember, the key factors of your decision are for safety, care and comfort.

What am I looking for when I look?

Just as you’ve looked at other moves in your life, this is another move. Location is important. You likely want to live somewhere you are familiar with, has the things you need – shopping, hospital, doctors and the like. Here in South Florida, often the aging parent lives here and the adult children are out of state, usually up North. Weather is an issue. It is very hard to return to a cold climate and have to be indoors half of the year. However, if you will be moving into a Senior Residence – ILF or ALF than most things that you will need are onsite or they provide transportation. Climate is important however it is not the most compelling reason to remain in Florida, especially if you are in ill health or have a progressive condition. After all, if a son or daughter has to fly down in a crisis or repeatedly, their needs become part of the decision making.

In addition to location, you are looking at price, services, staff to resident ratios, safety features, add-on pricing, decor and design, how the other residents look and interact and what other family members say about their experience when visiting Senior Residences.  Check out their rating online and trust your gut! You will know within minutes of walking in whether the place is a contender or not.  Today, there should be no more “smells”.  It should be clean, menus and activities either posted or given to you upon request. Not all Senior Residences have the same feel to them.

Do I have to do this alone?

No, you can hire a GCM or Placement Specialist as noted earlier. You can use A Place For Mom, the Internet and a very good resource is New Lifestyles which has booklets for states and cities which list all the choices of Senior Residences, divided up into categories. Their toll free number is: 800-869-9549 –  It is recommended to make an appointment with the places you would like to explore. There is no point in showing up and making a “surprise” visit. You want to have someone give you a tour and answer your questions. Once you have narrowed down your choices to a couple of places, visit them at different times of day and night. Have a meal there, attend an activity. As long as your elder loved one is able to make decisions and weigh choices, they should be included in all decisions. After all, they will be living there. Usually their degree of input is congruent to their mental capacity.

Not all Promises are to be Kept

If and when a loved one has to move or be moved into any Senior Residence; Assisted Living Facility (ALF), Memory Unit or Nursing Home, it is because they can no longer make it on their own, safely. The need for more care and round the clock care is a good reason to move, if you do not wish to have 24 hour care at home. When it becomes a disservice to your parent or spouse having just you or a couple of family members providing care, when an entire staff is needed, it is time to relocate. 

The promise to never “place” your spouse or parent was most likely made when they were a lot younger, healthier and able to care for themselves. Once the reality of how much care is required and that it is overwhelming the family caregiver and putting you and them at risk, that promise is voided.

In Choosing a Senior Residence, the real promise is to make sure your loved one is safe, cared for and comfortable.