For 10 years after their retirement, Robert and Ruth enjoyed good health. They lived independently in a 55+ community in Webster, where travel and fine dining were a part of their lifestyle.
Then Robert had a stroke. His health began to decline and it soon became impossible for Ruth to care for him at home. With no options for assisted living in the community where they lived, they were forced to look elsewhere. It was a long and difficult journey.
Their story mirrors that of many who chose a senior living community based on their current needs—without taking into account what might happen in the future.
You may be completely independent and healthy when you move, but as you age your needs are likely to change. Yes, we’re staying healthier longer, but planning for the future (and the unexpected) is always prudent.
That’s why the most important factor in choosing a senior living community is whether or not it offers a “continuum of care.” That means it fulfills both your current needs and any health needs you may have in the future.
Make sure you ask these questions so you can make an informed decision and find the senior community that’s right for you.
Many senior living communities offer independent living or assisted living but few offer both. You may find that you need more assistance as you get older. When you’ve chosen a community that offers a full continuum of care, you can relax knowing you don’t have to move just because your needs change.
Too many senior communities have to turn away residents because they have medical conditions or need assistance. Does the community have its own medical team? Are there nurses on site (and not just on call)? Does it have emergency responders on staff? It’s important to know the answers to these questions before you’re faced with an emergency.
Look for a community that offers scheduled transportation—even if you own your own car.
Maintaining your independence is important. If the day comes when you’re unable to drive for some reason—or don’t want to drive anymore—scheduled transportation will help you keep moving, so you can always make it to the doctor, the bank, or the grocery store when you need to.
If a community restricts what you’re able to eat, look elsewhere. One size doesn’t fit all, nor should it. Do you have different dining venues to choose from? Can you get meals to go or delivered to your door? Are the chefs professionally trained?
Look for a variety of meal choices and an innovative menu. Find out if you’ll be restricted to only a few specific entrees every day, or if you must dine between specific hours. Your dining options should work around your lifestyle—not the other way around.
When you take a tour and walk through the community, are residents socializing in the common areas? Are they active? Do they have guests visiting?
Look for a community offering a full slate of on-campus activities open to residents at all stages of the care continuum. For example, St. Ann’s Chapel Oaks and Cherry Ridge communities offer fitness classes, cooking demonstrations, bocce and card tournaments, concerts, computer classes, and lots more.
Remember: Choose a retirement community where active, independent living is enhanced by access to higher levels of care: assisted living, memory care, rehabilitative services, skilled nursing. It’s true peace of mind for you and for your family.