Making the Change

Five Steps to Take When Your Parents Need Assisted Living

By MERRITT WHITLEY

Many families look to assisted-living facilities to provide essential care and peace of mind when it comes to their aging parents. Finding the best senior-living community means matching your parents’ needs, lifestyle, and budget with communities in their desired area. The process is easiest and most successful when you ask the right questions, prepare, and have open conversations with your family.

If you’ve noticed signs your parents need help, it may be time to look for assisted-living options. Follow these six steps to find the right senior-living facility for your parents.

Determine Cost and Payment Options

Decide what your family can afford on a monthly basis, and look for assisted-living communities that fit your budget. Some people have savings or long-term-care insurance to help fund senior living, while tthers need to be creative. You may consider options such as Social Security, VA benefits, cashing out a life-insurance policy, selling a home, or reverse mortgage to help pay for care.

Have a Conversation with Your Aging Parents

You can do much of the legwork for your parents, but have regular discussions with them about their desires and preferences. When you have a list of options ready, talk to them about communities you think are a good fit and why you like them. The more your parents know and are involved, the smoother their transition to senior living will be.

Visit or Virtually Tour a Community

No amount of time spent viewing brochures, floor plans, photos, or reviews can substitute for an in-person visit to or virtual tour of an assisted-living community. Visit at least three communities for comparison. Schedule visits for you and your parent, and try to tour during mealtimes. This allows you to interact with staff and residents, and sample the food. Overall, you’ll get a good feel for the environment and culture of the community.

Consult a Variety of Sources

You can always bounce ideas off of a senior-living advisor during the decision-making process. When making a decision, talk to those in the know to learn as much as you can. Read reviews of senior communities on senioradvisor.com to help you make an informed and confident decision. Check the background of an assisted-living community you’re considering with the state licensing agency tasked with monitoring facilities.

Prepare for the Transition

Do not delay the move — it’s risky to procrastinate, especially when a parent needs care. Delays can lead to avoidable accidents and medical problems. When preparing for a move, it’s important to:

• Consolidate possessions. Is your loved one downsizing? Can you help them sell or donate any items?

• Plan and coordinate the move. Are you hiring a company or helping on your own? Set up a schedule and plan to ensure the move goes smoothly to alleviate stress.

• Gather and manage legal documents. Locate medical documents, tax returns, or any important information your parents may need. Make sure they’re in a safe place so they don’t get lost or misplaced during the move.

Bottom Line

Whether your parents are choosing the community themselves, or you’re helping decide for a parent, the above steps should help ensure everyone in your family feels good about the assisted-living facility selection. When possible, have conversations with your parents, discuss the pros and cons of each option, and try to come to a consensus together.

Merritt Whitely is an editor at A Place for Mom.

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