How to Compare Senior Living Communities

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    • 1). Do some initial research to find out what senior living communities exist in your desired area. Request brochures from each community to get a preliminary idea of each one. You can get a general idea of the different types of senior living arrangements available and what they offer at the

    • 2). Make a checklist of all the questions you want to ask at each community. Then call or make an appointment to visit each facility to get the answers you need. Bring the checklist with you on visits and do not be shy about asking questions and taking notes.

    • 3). Inquire about service plans. This can be the most confusing part because different living arrangements offer different service options, and many senior living communities offer multiple types of living in one community. These plans will range from independent living to fully assisted living, with many increments in between. Services will include things like medication management and daily personal care like bathing. In some cases, you may be able to purchase ancillary services, which means individual services can be purchased in addition to the package you already have.

    • 4). Ask about the medical care offered on site. Some communities offer 24-hour nursing and a doctor on call. This can be very important based on your particular needs and level of health.

    • 5). Look at the pricing structure and fees. This can vary greatly among facilities, so this is where you will do a lot of cross comparison. If you or your loved one has serious or multiple health problems, you will need to select a plan that covers many services and allots more time for assistance from the staff. Otherwise, you may choose to select a more inexpensive plan with fewer services.

      Get a list of one-time fees as well. Some communities will charge move-in, entrance, endowment, administrative or other fees on a one time basis.

    • 6). Ask about meal plans and if possible, try the food. Again, you need to consider your independence level. If you will be preparing your own meals in your kitchen this isn't as important. Some communities offer plans that include a certain number of meals in a dining room and more can be purchased. If you need mealtime assistance be sure to inquire about that availability and pricing and whether meals can be brought to your room.

    • 7). Find out if moving in involves a real estate purchase. Some communities will essentially be charging rent, while others require a real estate buy-in. The latter is likely in communities that offer independent, assisted and nursing home arrangements all at one facility.

    • 8). Think ahead. Even if you are independent now, there may come a time when you need more assistance. You may want to consider moving to a community with several levels of assistance so that you won't have to move again when you discover you need more help than is offered.

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