By Alessandra Ramirez, MSW, Certified Concierge Care Advisors

Are you over the age of 60, or a loved one that is caring for an aging senior? Have you been considering a move to a senior housing community like assisted living or an adult family home (AFH)? If so, there are four things to keep in mind that can make the decision a little smoother and less stressful when faced with this huge life decision. They are location, level of care that can be provided, cost/financing, and essential legal paperwork for those in your families. In this blog post we will explore these very crucial details.

Location: When working with families and their loved ones who need additional care and alternative living situations, where the loved one is cared for is always at the top of the list of topics to discuss. Sometimes the primary care team or friends/family don’t mind the drive or location of the community and can easily navigate to the housing community in question. Early on in a seniors end of life journey, this may notb e such a defining factor. However, as the senior ages and their level of care begins to increase, their needs are going to increase and trips to the community may become more and more frequent. If a loved one is relatively far from their primary care team or family, it can become burdensome and add stress to providing the care they need. It’s valuable to consider this when looking into senior housing communities.

Level of care provided: As our loved one’s age, their care needs begin to increase. For example, their need for assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) – bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, med management, transfer needs, become more and more frequent. It’s essential to find a housing community that will be able to attend to these needs as the loved one continues to age.  Additionally, if the loved one has any underlying diseases or chronic illness, taking into consideration the progression of their major health diagnoses can also guide which community is chosen as some communities can specialize in a particular disease progression.

Cost/Financing: Often the cost of living in a senior housing community is a deterrent for families and the loved one. Especially for the the loved one, as it is most likely their out-of-pocket expense. Here are some things that are included in the cost: level of care needed for the loved one, any amenities that the community may offer, community fee that helps maintain the integrity of the building or campus, room and board, meals and transportation. Resources like VA benefits, annuities, long-term care policy and even Medicaid can all help with the financing the cost of living in a housing community.

Essential Legal Paperwork: Because we never know how a loved one will decline over time, there are essential end of life (EOL) documents that can help support this inevitable transition. Essential documents include Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form, durable power of attorney for both medical and financial (DPOA) decisions, advanced directive and a living will. All these documents assure that the loved one has their end of life wishes met, when they can no longer speak or make decisions for themselves. Additionally, these documents ensure a smooth decision making process for the primary care providers.

Reach out to your local senior care advisor today for further explanation on these very important topics or to ask additional questions that were not addressed in this article.