If you’re anything like me, you use the internet for immediate answers; if you’re anything like the families that come to us looking for help to find housing for their loved ones, then you need immediate answers.
Here are 10 quick tips for finding senior housing in Seattle.
1. Ask a Doctor
Whether it’s your elders’ doctor or your own, ask a primary care physician for advice on senior housing. Fill them in on the mobility issues or pre-existing conditions they have and figure out where to start your search.
If you’re going into this blindly, then a doctor will help provide an overview. If you’re researching this because your elder is already in the hospital then that’s all the more reason to ask your elder’s care physician. They will help.
(You can always call your doctor for these kinds of things, so don’t be shy.)
2. Look Up Options
Senior Housing used to be the only term for “Homes,” but now it acts as more of an umbrella. There’s retirement communities, continuing care retirement communities, skilled nursing homes, assisted living, adult family homes, etc. Among all these options are variety, for instance, one assisted living may offer memory care services and another may not.
You want to look up what each option entails even if you only broadly understand the differences. The reason why is for #3.
3. Talk to Your Elder
This is the biggest hurdle for most adult children to overcome. They’re scared of talking to their parents about senior care because of how they might react. How do you bring up senior housing out of genuine concern so they don’t perceive it as condescension.
The reason step 1 and 2 are so important is that, if you’re informed about the topic (even broadly) it’s clear you took the time to get second opinions and put energy into research. Although there’s always the chance your elder will be offended by the mere suggestion, you will make a better case if you can talk to them about the options available.
If you don’t know the difference between assisted living and a nursing home then their fears and concerns are completely valid because who else is there to tell them otherwise? Making the move is hard because it’s unknown… but if you have information it dilutes those fears tremendously — even if it’s still hard.
(Plus, if you talk to their doctor, you have a scapegoat, i.e. “I would love it if you could stay home, mom, but your doctor recommended the move”.)
4. Care Needs
Once your senior is aware of the change, it’s important to assess their needs and wants. Most important should be care needs. All too often, families resign to what their loved one wants vs what they need. We’ve seen people go against our — and doctors — recommendations and move their mother into an assisted living when they really needed memory care.
It’s hard to make a tough choice like that, but it’s for the best. It’s the difference between a short-term fix and a long-term decision. If your elder needs a specific type of care, get them that care. You don’t want to be in this position again in 5 years time.
Obviously, price should be a factor. You shouldn’t break the bank to afford a senior housing and fortunately there are many things you can do. Although Medicare does NOT pay for senior living, Medicaid does and many seniors will qualify on that and possibly paying a little extra.
Additionally, many seniors are eligible for VA Benefits and simply don’t know it. Spouses and children of war veterans may be eligible for VA Benefits, so it’s always important to explore those options as well.
After care and price, location is usually the next most important point because your elder may want to live in Bellevue, but Kirkland is more affordable. Remember that many senior living communities offer transportation services so if your elder wants to stay in a particular part of town, there’s a good chance they’ll still be able to go there (whether it’s for recreation or religious services).
Obviously, location is important, but not a priority.
Once you’ve run through theses six steps, your actual search should be fairly narrow. With our Care Advisors for instance, we’re able to find at least 3 choices that fit all the needs. So, from there, here’s what you do.
Reviews are always a good starting point. It’s important not to judge a community based solely on their reviews — since all 5 stars may be more suspect than genuine — but it’s worthwhile to look at.
If a community has 1 and 2-star reviews, don’t accept that on face-value, find out why. See if the community said anything in response and what date the review was submitted. Most importantly, read the negative review! In many cases, the negative review may be something extremely niche that wouldn’t affect you… on the other hand, it may be niche, but maybe you’ve experienced that particular problem yourself and certainly don’t want to go through it again.
With your narrow list of communities, now it’s time to tour. Touring will give you first-hand information and a clear picture of what it’s like to live on this property. It’s more telling than simply scrolling through a website.
While touring, remember that the person guiding you may be working from a script, so pay attention to little details. See if the tour guide recognizes elders in the community, see if there’s a lot of activity going on, pay attention to the cleanliness and overall happiness of the people you pass.
All this said, the community may still look great, but that’s all the more reason to schedule another tour at a different time. Visit multiple times (if you can) to get a well-rounded perspective on the community.
9. Talk to Neighbors
This one is huge and no different than if you were shopping for a house in a neighborhood. Talk to the residents of the senior housing community. Find out first-hand how they feel. What are their likes and dislikes. Find out what they would change or improve upon. Find out what they like best or if they’d make this decision again.
Plus, this can be an especially helpful approach if you’re touring with your elder since the people you talk to may be their friends in the future.
10. Talk to Care Advisor
If after these 9 things, you still feel lost or defeated, then contact our Care Advisors. Our services are completely free to you and your elder, so there’s no harm in asking. The main difference between doing this yourself and asking us for help is that, we’ve already done steps 1-9 thousands of times — yes, we’ve even had the talk with your elders about why it’s crucial that they move.
So whether you’ve done some, all, or none of the steps, you can always count on us for help finding senior housing in Seattle.