What is Senior Isolation, and What Can You do to Help?

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

senior isolation

What is Senior Isolation, and What Can You do to Help?

Do you feel isolated in your own home? Do you feel removed from family and friends? Do you feel alone with your own thoughts, with no one to talk to and no opportunity to engage with your community? Unfortunately, for a large and growing number of seniors, the answer is yes.

Approximately 12.5 million older adults live in one-person households, representing 28% of people aged 65 or older. According to the Council on Contemporary Families, it only gets worse; by the time people reach age 85, about 40% live by themselves.

The thought of our aging parents, grandparents and loved ones living alone is sad enough, but the concern gets even worse when we look at what the research says about the effect of isolation and loneliness on seniors.

Facts About Senior Isolation and Loneliness

Isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in older adults

In 148 longitudinal studies with more than 300,000 participants, older individuals with strong social ties had a 50% greater likelihood of survival over the study period (average of 7.5 years) compared with those who report feeling isolated or lonely due to poor social networks and relationships. According to the authors of one study on senior isolation and mortality, “This effect is greater than that of other well-established risk factors for mortality such as physical inactivity and obesity, and comparable with cigarette smoking.”

Senior isolation can negatively impact physical and mental health

In a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London found that seniors who report feeling lonely and isolated are more likely to report having poor physical and/or mental health. Multiple studies have shown that individuals with poor social networks and relationships are more likely to suffer from hypertension, coronary artery disease or cardiac failure, and are more likely to experience psychological distress. Social isolation and loneliness in older adults has also been linked with a greater likelihood of unhealthy behaviors, such as inactivity and smoking.

Isolation may limit access to benefits and services

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the physical, cultural and geographical barriers that isolate seniors from their peers and communities “can prevent them from receiving benefits and services that can improve their economic security and their ability to live healthy, independent lives.” By not taking advantage of such benefits and services, seniors may become even more disconnected to their family, friends and communities as their financial situation worsens or as their physical/mental health declines.

How to Help Lonely or Isolated Seniors Reconnect

Address health issues that may contribute to isolation

Seniors can become withdrawn and isolated for several reasons, including undiagnosed or untreated health issues. Seniors who experience incontinence, for example, may be hesitant to leave their homes, or seniors hearing difficulties or deteriorating vision may avoid social situations out of embarrassment or frustration. Talk with your loved one about their health and address any issues that may be limiting their social life. You may need to speak with your loved one’s caregivers or health providers for a clearer picture of their overall health.

Encourage self-esteem and self-confidence

Body image doesn’t get as much attention as other aging concerns, but it can be a major contributing factor to senior isolation. Older adults may become self-conscious about their appearance to the point that they avoid social interactions entirely. Compliments and positive comments about your loved one’s appearance can go a long way and may even provide a boost of self-esteem and self-confidence that helps your loved one get out and reconnect with the world. Researchers have also found that boosting self-esteem can buffer potential health threats in seniors.

Give your loved one a pet

Taking care of an animal can combat senior isolation and loneliness in many ways. For seniors who are healthy enough to engage in physical activity, having a dog means going on walks and visiting dog parks—in other words, getting out of the house. Pets also serve as a social icebreaker and can make it easier for seniors to strike up conversations with strangers. If your loved one is not capable or willing to care for a pet on their own, check to see if there are any volunteer organizations in your city that match therapy animals with homebound seniors for weekly visits, such as Therapy Dogs International and Caregiver Canines. Animal companionship alone may be enough to help ward off feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Make transportation easier

An analysis of data from the National Household Travel Survey found that among adults 65 and older who reported not leaving home in the past week, more than half reported that they would like to get out more often. Lack of transportation is one reason why seniors may not get out as much or as often as they would like. Offer rides to older loved ones or introduce them to rideshare services like Lyft and Uber to make it easier for them to get out of the house.

Notify neighbors, friends and caregivers

If you’re concerned that an aging parent, grandparent or loved one is isolated and lonely, notify other people in their lives who can help make a difference. If a loved one is aging in place, for example, reach out to their neighbors and explain your concerns. Caregivers and health providers should also be notified if you are worried that a loved one is not getting as much social interaction as they want or need.

Socially-Focused Senior Living

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that social wellness may be more difficult to attain for seniors, especially those who are limited by health problems or who don’t live near family and friends. That’s why we provide activities and events designed specifically to increase social interactions and enrich the lives of those we serve. Learn more about how we help seniors socialize in comfortable, welcoming environments.

 

Wearable Technology for Seniors

Posted by in Technology.

wearable technology seniors

Wearable Technology for Seniors: 8 Gadgets Baby Boomers Will Love!

Wearable technology like the Fitbit and Apple Watch aren’t just for the young and active any more. Increasingly, older adults are turning to smart wearable gadgets to help them live healthier, happier lives. In a 2015 study conducted by AARP, 45% of participating older adults (50+ years old) reported increased motivation for healthier living after six weeks of using a wearable activity or sleep tracker, and 67% of participants overall felt that such wearables were beneficial or of value.

Wearable tech can also provide family members and caregivers with peace of mind. Some wearables specifically designed for seniors include features like fall detection and emergency monitoring, which means independent seniors still have the freedom and flexibility to do whatever they like with an extra layer of protection in case of an emergency.

Whether you’re looking for a fitness tracker for an active, on-the-go parent or a medical alert device for an aging, independent grandparent, we hope you’ll find what you’re looking for in this short list of wearables suited for seniors.

Activity Trackers, Smartwatches and Medical Alert Devices for Seniors

Garmin Vivosmart 3

Subtle, stylish and smart, this fitness tracker does it all. In addition to daily fitness monitoring (steps taken, stairs climbed, calories burned, etc.) the Vivosmart 3 also tracks heart rate variability, which is used to calculate and display stress levels. This fitness tracker also features built-in guided breathing exercises for relaxation and stress relief, helping seniors feel more at peace and at ease in their daily lives. Learn more about the Garmin Vivosmart 3.

Fitbit Charge 3

Voted the 2018 Fitness Tracker of the Year, the Fitbit Charge 3 tracks way more than steps. It features automatic sleep tracking so seniors can monitor their sleep patterns and learn how to get better rest, which is important to healthy aging. The Fitbit Charge 3 also sports a large, easy-to-read backlit display, long battery life and connectivity to everyday apps seniors will love, including calendar and weather. Learn more about the Fitbit Charge 3.

Samsung Gear S3

Timeless on the outside, revolutionary on the inside, the Samsung Gear S3 looks and feels like a traditional watch but does so much more to help seniors lead healthier, happier lives. One of the best features we love about the Samsung Gear S3 is the ability to notify emergency contacts. Three presses on the home button and the wearers location will be sent to predetermined people who will then be able to track whereabouts in real time. Learn more about the Samsung Gear S3.

Apple Watch 4

The Apple Watch 4 is a momentous achievement for wearable devices for seniors. For starters, the ECG app can generate an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram, providing critical data for doctors, caregivers and wearers alike. The resulting ECG waveform is automatically stored in the Health app on the iPhone, so wearers can easily share the results with caregivers and health providers to have a better-informed conversation about their health. The Apple Watch 4 also features advanced fall detection. If the watch detects a fall and the wearer is immobile, it will automatically call emergency services and send a message to emergency contacts. Learn more about the Apple Watch 4.

Reemo Health Smartwatch

“Enjoy your independence as much as possible, for as long as possible.” That’s the mission behind the Reemo Health Smartwatch. Specifically designed for senior living, the Reemo Health Smartwatch makes it easy to manage health data and even share information with family members, caregivers and other healthcare providers. The Reemo Health Smartwatch also features live 24/7 concierge help, giving wearers access to a live operator who can provide product support or emergency services. Learn more about the Reemo Health Smartwatch.  

Freedom Guardian

The Freedom Guardian wearable medical alert watch incorporates features that provide day-to-day support for older users, their loved ones and caregivers. Advanced location tracking means help can be sent to the wearer’s exact location, and automatic alerts help manage day-to-day tasks, so seniors don’t forget to take medication or miss a doctor’s appointment. The Freedom Guardian also features oversized icons and a large, high-res touchscreen for seniors with poor eyesight. Learn more about the Freedom Guardian.

MobileHelp Smart

The MobileHelp Smart is a discreet medical alert wearable designed with seniors in mind. This feature-rich smartwatch monitors activity, heart rate and diet goals for a healthier lifestyle, but also includes emergency monitoring ($24.95 per month). In the event of an emergency, wearers can connect with emergency operators with a single press of a button using the smartwatch’s built-in microphone and speaker. Learn more about the MobileHelp Smart.

More Gift Ideas for Seniors

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for an aging parent, grandparent or loved one, we’ve compiled a short list of great gifts for seniors. At Senior Lifestyle, we’ve learned that regardless of circumstances, seniors overwhelmingly agree that it’s the thought that counts. The gift of time is also welcomed and appreciated. Whether your senior loved one lives at home or in a senior community, just making time to say hello and spend time can bring as much joy as any gift you can think of.

 

Signs it’s Time For Assisted Living

Posted by in Expert Advice.

nurse talking with an assisted living resident

7 Signs it’s Time For Assisted Living

Trying to decide whether or not it’s time to transition your parent or senior loved one to an assisted living community can be uncomfortable at best and stressful at worst, especially if they’re resistant to the idea. What factors should you take into account? Are there any red flags that you should know about? If you encounter any of the signs discussed below, it may be time to initiate this conversation.

Here are seven signs that it’s time to move into an assisted living community:

1. Poor Health That’s Just Getting Worse

A chronic health condition that’s deteriorating by the day is a red flag. According to the National Council on Aging, 80 percent of older adults suffer from at least one chronic disease and 77 percent have two or more conditions. These numbers are especially troubling when you consider the fact that most deaths in the United States are due to chronic illnesses.

Rather than trying to manage your loved one’s declining health on your own, it may be time escalate their care needs and partner with a team of trained staff who are dedicated the wellbeing of their charges.

2. Changes in Hygiene

If you’ve noticed changes in your loved one’s personal hygiene like unpleasant body odor, greasy, unkempt hair or dirty fingernails that are too long, broken or jagged  this is a cause for concern. Poor hygiene could be due to self-neglect. The National Adult Protective Services Association defines self-neglect as “a person’s inability, due to physical or mental impairment or diminished capacity, to perform essential self-care tasks.”

Other warning signs of self-neglect include:

  • Refusal to take medications or poor management of medication regimen
  • Signs of weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
  • No food, inadequate food or rotten food in the house
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Signs of unopened mail and notices
  • Non-functioning utilities or utilities that are shut off

If you notice these warning signs you should think through the best way to intervene self-neglect is a risk factor for early mortality among the elderly. Self-neglectors are twice as likely to die as seniors who do not self-neglect.

3. Isolation

Just like self-neglect, social isolation is a risk factor for early mortality. Older adults with few social ties who live alone, are hearing impaired, or who have mobility issues may become isolated due to their circumstances. Seniors may also intentionally isolate themselves, but the consequences are the same.

Isolation is also associated with cognitive decline, chronic diseases and dementia. It’s been linked to poor health conditions like high blood pressure, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

According to AARP, signs of isolation include withdrawal, loss of interest in personal hygiene, poor nutrition and poor living conditions and hoarding.

4. Safety Concerns

If your loved one is having trouble navigating the stairs in their home or there have been instances of forgetfulness and wondering that caught your attention, they may no longer be safe on their own. The National Council On Aging reports that every 11 seconds an older adult is treated for a fall in an emergency room. Furthermore, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and brain injuries in America, making this a major safety concern.

Furthermore, an impaired memory could be an indication of a more serious health problem.

5. Increasing Difficulty Managing Daily Tasks

Is your loved one having trouble performing daily tasks like cooking food? Do they just have TV dinners or snack foods in the house and no fresh food? Or maybe they look disheveled and seem to be struggling with grooming and dressing themselves?

They might not be managing very well if:

  • They forget to take their medication
  • They’ve lost weight
  • Their pets appear neglected and malnourished
  • They can no longer drive or fail to keep their appointments

If mental or physical limitations are hampering their ability to take care of themselves properly, they might need some help. Nearly 18 million older adults have reported needing help with daily activities, so they wouldn’t be alone in this.

6. Trouble Keeping Up with Bills

This red flag could relate to forgetfulness and memory loss, self-neglect or elder financial exploitation. The National Adult Protective Services Association reports that seniors with cognitive impairments who need assistance with daily activities are more vulnerable to financial abuse. They typically fall victim to predatory lending, investment schemes, internet phishing, identity theft and Medicare scams. If you suspect that your loved one is being scammed, you can report it to the Department of Justice.

Either way, investigating the cause of this issue will help you determine whether or not it’s a cause for concern.

7. Inability to Properly Care For Home

A home that’s in disrepair with an unkempt lawn, or a cluttered home that’s difficult to navigate and bordering on uninhabitable are a cause for concern. Particularly when these issues become safety concerns and your loved one is at risk of being burglarized due to the state of the home. Hazards in the home also make it difficult to enlist the help of a home care service. According to  Advances in Patient Safety: New Directions and Alternative Approaches, the following hazards impede caregivers from performing their duties:

  • Unsanitary conditions such as rodents and insects
  • Air pollutants such as mold and peeling paint
  • Excessive clutter
  • Poor lighting

Visit a Senior Lifestyle Community

At Senior Lifestyle we know how sensitive having a conversation about transitioning to assisted living can be, which is why we take a compassionate approach when working with families. We strive to ease any tension as we guide you through the process, sharing our senior lifestyle options and determining what the best fit for your.

We encourage families to visit our communities and offer opportunities to visit. Come and explore our senior-focused amenities and care programs. Meet our staff and ask them questions about what like is like at a Senior Lifestyle Community. Schedule a tour at a community near you today.

Moving Elderly Parents When They Don’t Want To

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

moving aging parents who don't want to

Moving elderly parents when they don’t want to

Moving isn’t fun, change can be difficult, and home is … well, it’s home. The best time to have the conversation with aging parents is before a crisis happens.

We’ve got some tips that might make the conversation easier.

How to start the conversation about senior living

Sometimes talking to your parents about community living starts with a simple question like, “What are your biggest daily struggles?” Ask them how you can help.

Most of us don’t respond well when someone starts a tough conversation by saying, “You need to …” or “You should ….” As you approach the idea of senior living with your parents, remember that they still see themselves as your parent; you are their child, no matter how old you are.

While you may be able to continue discussing options from there, you may also want to leave the initial conversation at that. Unless there is an immediate need or you are concerned that your parents are not safe, you might want to take a slower approach to moving them from their house into a senior living community.

How to take the conversation to the next step

Ask your parents if they’ve thought about selling their home and using the equity to move into a place that might be more comfortable and lower maintenance.

Would they mind if you look at home estimates on websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com? Put together a list of home-related expenses such as utilities, property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs; compare that list with the cost of senior living, which covers all those expenses and more. It’s hard to argue with data; if you can show your parents that selling their home and moving into a full-service senior living community will, ultimately, save them money, that may help ease their anxieties.

You might also gather estimates for renovations to their owned home, such as installing:

  • Non-skid flooring and removing slippery rugs
  • Grab bars in bathrooms
  • Medical alert or security alarms
  • Outside ramps, if stairs become difficult to navigate
  • Handrails along stairs, hallways
  • Motion-activated, bright lighting in hallways, closets and stairwells
  • Wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers
  • Stair climbers
  • Walk-in bathtub/non-slip shower
  • Security cameras

Get professional advice for your parents

If your parents are in any danger of falling or if you have serious concerns about their abilities to care for themselves or each other, you might enlist the help of third-party professionals.

An accountant or financial advisor can help them understand the costs and expenses associated with aging in place versus selling their home and using the equity to enjoy the rest of their lives in a senior living community.

Your parents’ healthcare professionals might be able to talk to your parents about their long-term needs and what to expect if they have medical conditions that may come with mobility or memory issues. Your parents may be more open to hearing about their options from professionals.

If you have friends whose parents have sold their homes and moved to senior living communities, invite them to share their stories. Ask if you and your parents can visit them. Sometimes hearing someone else’s story about making such a big change so late in life can be comforting.

Schedule tours of senior living communities

Sometimes, persuading your parents that moving into a senior lifestyle community is as simple as visiting a community in your area. These visits will allow you and your loved one to explore the many options that are available.

Schedule tours at several communities. Arrange to go during active times, such as meals or when there is a social event. Some senior communities will allow potential residents to join meals and mingle with other residents.

Go to each tour with a list of questions and a checklist of features to evaluate.  Talk to the community’s staff about costs and what the living fees include. Your parents may be pleasantly surprised at all the amenities and perks that come with senior living.

Create an aging plan with your parents

If, after all the facts, conversations, and professional advice, your parents still refuse to sell the house and move, then tell them you want to make an aging plan so that when and if something does happen, and they need care, you’ve got a plan in place.

The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) suggests a five-point strategy for an aging plan:

  1. Get a medical alert system. Look for a system that has a fall alert sensor. You might also explore options with smart speakers from Amazon Echo, Apple Homepod and Google Home. These devices have apps that can help seniors with things like medication reminders, daily routines, turning off and on lights and calling friends and family.  
  2. List all medications. Write down all medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, including dosages, prescribing doctor and frequency and put the list in a place where your parents and you can easily access it.
  3. Note allergies. Along with the list of medications, including any food, medication or other allergies, such as to latex or adhesives.
  4. Write and display a community DNR. What’s a community DNR? If your parents have a do-not-resuscitate order, does it also apply to medical emergencies that happen in the community, outside a hospital or healthcare setting? If not, make sure it does.

Schedule — and make — a daily check-in call. Ask your parents to agree to make or receive a daily check-in call. Listen for abnormalities in their speech. Have a pla

Seeking guardianship over your parents

Guardianship gives you the legal right to make decisions for your parents. While we at Senior Lifestyle are not legal advisers, we do recommend you work with your family attorney to help you understand the process for taking legal guardianship over a parent or loved one.

According to Findlaw, the guardianship process can take a long time and be expensive. Your family attorney can help you understand your state’s requirements for guardianship, but they will likely involve some form of these steps:

  1. Filing a petition to the court explaining why you seek guardianship
  2. Informing the elderly person and other family members
  3. Investigation by the court
  4. A hearing where a judge makes a decision

Talk to a senior living professional

Use our interactive map to find senior living communities in your parents’ area. Browse the photos, read the descriptions, and bookmark your favorites. Look at the floorplans, read the testimonials from other residents, and explore the communities’ programs. Schedule an appointment to meet with the staff and talk through your parents’ concerns.  

 

 

How to Find A Place For Mom

Posted by in Expert Advice.

How to find a place for mom

How to find a place for mom

When it’s time to start looking for a place for mom – or any older adult in your care – the first place many of us turn to is the internet. With more than 190 communities in 28 states, we consider ourselves to be experts when it comes to caring for our aging parents.

This checklist will help you understand what to look for as you evaluate options, and we’ll cover the various senior living options that are available to us as we age.

What to look for when you search for a place for mom

Senior services

  • Does the community offer a continuum of care? In other words, as your parents’ needs change, will the community’s services adapt along with them?
  • What kinds of community partnerships does the home have?
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
  • What financial solutions are available, and does the community offer consultation on financial resources?
  • Is there a calendar of events that is updated regularly?
  • What will your parents’ first day/week/month look like at community? What will a typical day entail?

Staff communication, community relations, culture

  • Is the community welcoming? How did they make you feel when they answered your first phone call?
  • How do they protect their residents’ privacy and dignity?
  • Does the staff seem to like and respect each other?
  • What kinds of enrichment programs do they offer?
  • How long has the management company been in business?

Maintenance, housekeeping, aesthetics

  • How well is the property maintained? Is it well-maintained outside, in common areas and in residents’ apartments?
  • Would you feel happy living and visiting here? Is it home-like?
  • What is the surrounding neighborhood like? Is it quiet? Safe?
  • Is the community safe and secure? What security system does the location use?
  • Are housekeeping, maintenance and laundry services included, or are they extra?

Medical care and support

  • How close is the nearest hospital?
  • How easy are the emergency call devices to reach?
  • What efforts does the staff make to engage with residents?
  • Are there specialists who work with residents to make sure they have access to the right resources and programs?
  • What healthcare providers are included? Do they offer physical therapy, mental health and other types of services?
  • What services are included in the monthly fee?

Dining and meal services

  • Visit during mealtime. How does it smell? How does the food look? Can you try a few meals? What’s a typical menu look like?
  • Are residents encouraged to socialize during mealtimes? Does staff facilitate introductions and conversations?
  • What type of dietary and nutrition support is on staff? Does the dining room accommodate special dietary needs and preferences?

Your options for your aging parents

The right choice for your parents depends on how much care is required. Even if they are fully independent and can prepare meals, run errands, do household chores, and care for themselves today, their needs can change tomorrow.

As we age, mobility issues can arise and simple tasks become more difficult, like going up and down stairs, carrying in groceries or mowing the lawn.

This section explores living options for aging adults, from staying in place and aging at home to fully staffed skilled nursing homes.

Aging in place

Aging in the home – also known as aging in place – means exactly what it sounds like: Choosing to live in your own home for as long as possible. There’s something comforting and convenient about living as long as possible in a place where you raised your family and celebrated life’s milestones.

Seniors may choose an alternative other than aging in place for a number of reasons:

  • They have mobility issues that make going up and down stairs of a multi-level home difficult.
  • They need to be closer to their doctors, healthcare providers, and hospitals.
  • Maintenance and repairs on their home have become too much work, and they’re no longer physically able to do it themselves.
  • They’re lonely. Friends and family are busy – and traveling to see them isn’t easy – and they want to live in an active community surrounded by people like them.
  • They have medical issues that need round-the-clock attention and support.

Aging in place is the best option for people who can take care of themselves and have a strong round-the-clock support community, such as friends, family, neighbors or home health staff.

Age-restricted communities

Age-restricted communities are typically for adults age 55 and older. Sometimes they’re referred to as retirement communities, because they cater to lifestyles of retired adults.

Age-restricted communities may be gated, and many of them have community recreation centers that offer group social activities, clubs, entertainment and events. Some age-restricted communities are called niche retirement communities because they cater to specific interests, such as golf.

Like aging in place, the age-restricted community is ideal for adults who are able to care for themselves and have a strong support system comprised of family, friends and neighbors.

Senior housing

The definition of “senior housing” tends to depend on who you’re talking to. Some people use the term to refer to any kind of housing that caters to older adults, including everything from age-restricted communities to skilled nursing homes. Others refer to senior housing as HUD-approved apartment units that have been approved for senior citizens.

Independent living

You may find some sources that use “independent living” interchangeably with “retirement community.” We refer to independent living as apartment-style living that’s staffed around the clock. Independent living at Senior Lifestyle means:

  • 24-hour on-site staff
  • Routine housekeeping, maintenance and repairs
  • Emergency call systems
  • On-site restaurant-style dining prepared by our team of dining experts
  • Life Enrichment Programs
  • Common areas for socializing and hosting special events

Senior independent living is ideal for aging adults who want all the perks of living independently and all the benefits of living in a retirement community.

Assisted living

Assisted senior living is similar to independent living, but it offers assistance with daily living, which may include help with:

  • Bathing, dressing and self-care
  • Medication administration and assistance
  • Healthcare, such as physical therapy
  • Daily meals
  • Transportation to and from appointments

Assisted living allows your parents to live independently in their own apartment while having assistance when they need it. As you evaluate options for them, look for senior living communities that tailor programs to residents’ needs, especially as they age and their needs change.

Skilled nursing at senior nursing homes

Skilled nursing communities are also referred to as nursing homes, because they employ round-the-clock licensed nurses and other rehabilitative healthcare. Typically these types of homes offer short-term and long-term care options.

Short-term stays typically happen after an injury, illness or operation, or because someone has a complicated medical condition that requires 24-hour care. The nursing staff coordinates care with your healthcare providers and will transport them to medical appointments.

Which option is best for your aging parents?

As you explore your options, you’ll notice that many of Senior Lifestyle’s communities offer several levels of care that include independent living, assisted living, memory care and nursing care.

“Helping your parents age gracefully, happily and safely is no small task,” says Janine Witte, National Director of Sales. “It takes time and patience, both of which can be hard to come by, especially when you’re worried about their health and welfare.”

She suggests that you start by talking to friends, other family members and coworkers who may have gone through a similar situation with their parents.

“We’ve seen people post questions on social media asking their friends and family for advice on finding places for their aging parents.” Janine says. “That’s not a bad place to start.”

She suggests searching for “assisted living near me” or looking at the Senior Lifestyle website, which manages senior communities in 28 states. You can search by city, state, ZIP code and name.
Make a list of the most important features you and your parents want in a home, and then group them by “must have” and “optional.”

As you narrow your list of senior living options, schedule tours for you and your parents. Ask if it’s OK to take photos, so you can remember features you liked, as well as features that brought up concerns.

“Ultimately, you want to find the place for mom and dad that’s going to care for them as if they’re family,” Janine says.

What to look for in a Retirement Community

Posted by in Expert Advice.

retirement community tips

What to look for in retirement communities

When you look for a retirement community, you’re looking for more than a new home. You’re looking for a support system, socialization and amenities that fit within your lifestyle, needs and budget.

Your search begins by understanding the types of retirement communities, levels of care offered at each, and whether the community is a continuing care retirement community, which we’ll explain next.

What is a continuing care retirement community?

As you do your research, you may see community websites refer to continuing care retirement communities (CCRC). These communities offer a range of living options for seniors as their needs change, from independent senior living to memory care and full-time, round-the-clock skilled nursing care.

We think a continuum of care is the most important factor when evaluating options for you or your family members, because moving can be stressful at any age. For older adults, having a full breadth of options in one location eases transitions as physical and mental abilities change.

Types of retirement communities

You’ll find many options as you explore the best solution for you or your family member. Someone who’s still active but wants to relieve themselves of the burden of taking care of a house may be more inclined to seek out independent living.  

Independent living: Independent living communities offer all of the comforts of home, plus a dedicated staff, restaurant-style dining, Life Enrichment Programs, housekeeping services, transportation, on-site beauty and barber shop, and more.

Assisted living: Senior Lifestyle’s assisted living communities have everything that independent living communities have, plus Supportive Living, personal care, and  assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and medication management.

Memory care: For Senior Lifestyle communities that specialize in memory care, explore our award winning embrace program.

Cost and value of retirement communities

The second-most important factor in evaluating a retirement community is not only cost, but what you get for the cost. Ask the community team members for a summary of what services are included each month. Do they include:

  • Utilities, telephone and cable
  • Housekeeping
  • 24-hour security and emergency call services
  • Laundry services
  • Transportation services
  • Meals and snacks
  • Social and cultural events, activities and programs
  • Health and wellness centers and programs

Do a side-by-side comparison of your cost of living in your current home versus the cost to live in a retirement community, and if you own your home, don’t forget to adjust for the costs of homeowners’ insurance, mortgage (if you have one) interest and property taxes. You pay none of that when you live in a Senior Lifestyle retirement community.

Financial services for retirement living

Look for a retirement community that puts your best interests first. They should have an advisor on staff or in partnership, who can help you understand financial resources to help with senior living.

For example, our advisors at Senior Lifestyle have helped families understand how life insurance policies may be leveraged to help pay for the cost of care. Other options to ask about are bridge loans, VA benefits, and reverse mortgages.

You should also ask your financial advisor or accountant about tax deductibility of certain fees or portions of fees associated with CCRCs. Some of these fees are considered medical expenses and may be deductible.

Reputation and history of the retirement community

As you evaluate options for you or your family member, ask how long the community has been in existence, how long the management company has been with the community, and how long have employees been on staff?

Read online reviews and, if you read something negative about a community you are interested in, take the review with you and ask the staff to talk about it. Sometimes the way a business responds to negative reviews says more about them than the negative reviews themselves.

Access to health care

How close is the nearest hospital? Is transportation to doctor and medical appointments provided, or is there an extra charge? What healthcare services are offered onsite? For example, does the community employ physical therapists?

Food, dining and socialization

How are meals planned? Does the community employ a chef? What is her or his experience, and how do they address dietary needs? Is the food good? Try to arrange a tour during lunch or dinner, and ask if you can join and sample the food.

More importantly, are mealtimes fun? Does the community encourage socialization, and how are new residents introduced to existing ones?

What does a typical day look like at the retirement community? Are there a variety activities for residents, based on their physical abilities as well as their interests?

Family visits

Are there any restrictions with family visits? Most retirement communities are very welcoming to visits from family members, but some may have preferred times for visiting hours. If this is important to you, ask about these time slots.

Senior living culture

This may be the most difficult feature to describe or measure. It’s that “it” factor that you felt when you bought your first home and knew, “this is the one.” How do you know if the retirement community’s culture is right for you? Sometimes it’s just a feeling, but we have some advice to help you if you’re on the fence.

Visit more than one community, and try to visit each more than once, at different times of the day. Observe the residents and staff. Do they seem happy? How does the staff respond to your many questions? Do they take the time to explain their answers, and do they seem to care if you understand?

Rules and guidelines

Before you sign any agreement at any residential living community, thoroughly review the rules and regulations to make sure you have no surprises. Examples might including understanding the community’s rules for visitors, parking, pets, leisure activities, and transportation.

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?

Posted by in Research.

How much does assisted living cost

How much does assisted living cost?

Assisted living is for adults who want to live independently but may want help from time to time with daily activities such as housekeeping, getting to medical appointments, preparing meals, and managing medications.

Think of assisted living as “care that’s always there.” Look for assisted living communities that are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week year-round and offer the services and amenities that you want and need!

The short answer to the cost of assisted living is, “It depends.” Assisted living costs depend on a number of factors, such as level of care required, location, size, and miscellaneous amenities, which we’ll cover in the rest of this article. We’ll unpack the costs in this article, so you can understand what you get for the money at Senior Lifestyle’s assisted living communities.

Levels of care at assisted living

Typically an assisted living community will begin by meeting with you to understand your needs and create a plan to make sure your needs (and preferences) are met.

For example, Senior Lifestyle assisted living communities begin with a Personalized Service Plan. You meet with a nurse who helps you determine the services and care you need. The plan is adjusted based on your needs as they change.

Some examples of the types of services that go into plans:

  • Medication management: Making sure you take your prescriptions on time, and you get them refilled and updated as your doctor prescribes.
  • Dressing and bathing: Our professionally trained team can help you with activities of daily living such as getting dressed and basic grooming.
  • Housekeeping and maintenance: The staff at assisted living facilities maintains common areas and buildings. If you prefer to have your home professionally cleaned, that will go into your Personalized Service Plan.
  • Dining and dietary management: When you move into assisted living, you’re joining a community, and mealtime tends to be a favorite time among residents who live at Senior Lifestyle communities. Your Personal Service Plan will communicate to the executive chef any dietary limitations or goals.

As you schedule tours to visit assisted living communities, ask about the staff-to-resident ratio. You want a well-staffed community, so it’s important to understand what you get for the price, especially the number of licensed professionals who are on staff, such as nurses and other healthcare providers.

Location affects cost of living

What is the mantra among real estate agents? It’s all about location, location, location. It’s true for assisted living communities.

The average annual cost of assisted living in the United States is $48,000, according to Genworth’s Annual Cost of Care Report. The table below shows average annual costs for assisted living in states with Senior Lifestyle assisted living communities.

Within each state, as you know, costs of living vary — urban areas tend to cost more than rural areas, and costs of living are affected by housing costs, transportation costs, education, access to medical care, and costs of consumer goods such as food and clothing.

This table will give you an idea of how much your home state compares to other states. If you ever have questions or concerns about the costs of assisted living, you can find a representative by locating the Senior Lifestyle community nearest you.

State Average annual cost for a one-bedroom assisted living home Average monthly cost
Alabama $39,252 $3,271
Alaska $75,600 $6,300
Arizona $45,600 $3,800
California $54,000 $4,500
Colorado $48,000 $4,000
Connecticut $56,400 $4.700
Delaware $64,200 $5,350
District of Columbia $111,195 $9,266
Florida $42,000 $3,500
Georgia $37,200 $3,100
Hawaii $66,000 $5,500
Idaho $41,700 $3,475
Illinois $48,360 $4,030
Indiana $52,620 $4,385
Iowa $46,158 $3,847
Kansas $54,675 $4,556
Kentucky $42,240 $3,520
Louisiana $42,600 $3,550
Maine $59,400 $4,950
Maryland $56,070 $4,672
Massachusetts $65,940 $5,495
Michigan $46,200 $3,850
Minnesota $48,000 $4,000
Mississippi $41,910 $3,493
Missouri $34,128 $2,844
Montana $47,028 $3,919
Nebraska $46,131 $3,844
Nevada $42,000 $3,500
New Hampshire $56,100 $4,675
New Jersey $72,780 $6,065
New Mexico $51,000 $4,250
New York $50,220 $4,185
North Carolina $44,318 $3,693
North Dakota $39,780 $3,315
Ohio $51,336 $4,278
Oklahoma $39,900 $3,325
Oregon $55,110 $4,592
Pennsylvania $45,000 $3,750
Rhode Island $52,200 $4,350
South Carolina $42,000 $3,500
South Dakota $42,000 $3,500
Tennessee $47,040 $3,920
Texas $45,540 $3,795
Utah $40,200 $3,350
Vermont $54,000 $4,500
Virginia $53,415 $4,451
Washington $61,620 $5,135
West Virginia $43,425 $3,619
Wisconsin $51,600 $4,300
Wyoming $50,820 $4,235

Source: Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Survey

Use this calculator to compare the cost of assisted living with the cost of owning your own home. When you look at the cost of assisted living, keep in mind that your monthly cost covers:

  • Telephone
  • Cable
  • Utilities
  • Association fees
  • Lawn care and maintenance
  • Housekeeping
  • Home maintenance and repairs
  • 24-hour security
  • Food
  • Social, recreational and cultural activities
  • Health and fitness activities
  • Daily life enrichment programs

So, total how much you currently pay for your independent living life — your gym membership, landscaper, cable TV bill, and utilities. Those are all included when you live in a Senior Lifestyle community.

Size and amenities that affect assisted living costs

Just like any house, apartment or condo, the size of the floor plan will affect the cost; the more square footage, the higher the cost. Most assisted living communities offer one- and two-bedroom options, and a few even offer Studio options.  

Amenities are what makes senior living fun, and we at Senior Lifestyle love to talk about the amenities we offer for our residents.

  • Meals are prepared daily by an executive chef and served restaurant-style by a professional service staff.
  • Snacks are available all day, at your convenience and in line with dietary restrictions that you might have.
  • Transportation services will take you to local shopping, medical appointments and local entertainment venues like the theater and museums.

Life Enrichment Programs are a hallmark of Senior Lifestyle communities. These programs are designed to exercise and entertain your mind and body, so you can live the best life possible. Examples of Life Enrichment include gardening, Brain Health University, technology classes and a good old-fashion happy hour.

Assisted living next steps

You may be considering several options for this next chapter of your life. Explore our assisted living options, and don’t hesitate to schedule a visit of a Senior Lifestyle property. Our team looks forward to meeting you, and they love to talk about our wonderful assisted living properties.