It is estimated that there are more than forty million residents age sixty-five and older living in the United States today. As seniors age, they may find that their needs could be better met in a senior living community than they can at home. Still, the term “senior living community” can make some apprehensive simply because they are unsure what options are available or if they can effectively meet their specific needs.
What Is A Senior Living Community?
Think of a senior living community as an umbrella of sorts that incorporates a variety of types of housing and senior care. Some of the most commonly offered levels of care within a senior living community can include:
This type of housing, which can resemble hotel rooms or mini apartments, is typically best for aging seniors who may require a little help with daily activities but still want to retain a certain level of freedom. These individuals commonly require assistance with hygiene activities such as toileting, bathing, and dressing.
For many, going to an independent living community is akin to joining a retirement community. Many of the individuals requiring this type of housing often hope to be free of homeowner responsibilities such as mowing the lawn and household repairs. Independent living can mimic a large apartment and residents usually have more flexibility when it comes to meals and leisure activities.
Sometimes referred to as Alzheimer’s care, memory care senior living communities are designed for individuals who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Due to the nature of the memory-based conditions these residents suffer from, memory care facilities take extra measures to keep residents from wandering away. It is not uncommon for these seniors to require a substantially higher level of assistance with everything from self-care to hygiene.
A retirement community can be similar to assisted living except with a slightly increased level of freedom. These communities are generally dedicated to individuals age fifty-five and older and are usually comprised of apartment buildings that also share common areas. Seniors in a retirement community usually do not require assistance but do want freedom from responsibilities associated with home ownership.
Some senior living communities focus on skilled nursing. Individuals with a need for this type of care are those who require help recovering from surgery or a traumatic medical event and require rehabilitation. These facilities generally offer both short-term and long-term programs.
Who Can Live in A Senior Living Community?
While everything from an individual’s level of health to their capabilities generally determines the specific type of community that is right for them, the common denominator for each is usually age.
In many senior living communities, the youngest residents will be around their mid-fifties and are usually part of a retirement community. However, it is not unheard of for some assisted living facilities to have aging seniors all the way up to age one hundred.
The last piece of the puzzle is availability. For example, while retirement communities may have wide availability, those communities that offer highly specialized services such as memory care may have fewer openings available.
Common Amenities and Services of Senior Living Communities
A proper senior living community should offer a wide range of amenities designed to help their residents feel right at home and maybe even a little bit spoiled. Some of the amenities that aging seniors and their families should look for include:
Depending on an individual’s specific needs, some programs and services may also need to be a part of the package. When it comes to services, potential senior living community residents may want to look for:
- Daily activity assistance
- Disease specific assistance (diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc.)
- Licensed medical nurse availability around the clock
- Medication management
The ideal combination of stellar amenities as well as programs and services should meet an aging senior’s basic needs and go above and beyond to help them not just survive but thrive.
Things to Look for In A Senior Living Community
If you or a loved one is considering moving into a senior living community, it is critical to do plenty of research up front. To feel more peace of mind about the care a resident will receive, it is best to keep the following considerations in mind:
Ask for recommendations
Some of the most helpful reviews can be those we hear from someone’s personal experience. If visiting a community in person, be aware of the facial expressions and attitudes of residents to see if they appear happy and comfortable.
Keep a first impression tally
How a senior living community is cared for can be reflective of the pride they take in caring for residents as well. During a tour of a facility, look for special touches of warmth, cleanliness, ease of navigation, and special accommodations for those with disabilities.
Compare programs and services
Not all senior living communities are created equally, so be sure to compare the programs, services, and amenities of each specific facility, taking care to note those that you would use the most.
If you or a loved one is seriously considering living in a senior living community in which meals are prepared for residents, think about eating at the facility while onsite for a tour. This will give you an opportunity to see the dynamics of the dining room and taste the food.
Ask about staff certifications
The staff caring for residents in one of these communities should be expertly trained to support seniors’ social, emotional, and basic needs with empathy and understanding.
Verify how communication works between staff and residents, as well as staff and a resident’s loved ones.
If you are considering a senior living community for yourself or a loved one, we encourage you to reach out to Senior Estate Concierge today to see how we can be of service.