5 important questions to ask yourself when picking a senior community

Not all senior communities are created equal.
These 5 questions can help you decide which is right for you.

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, the couple was 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 about any senior living community you’re considering so you can make an informed decision and find the one that’s right for you.

1) Do they offer independent and assisted living options?

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.

2) What are their medical capabilities?

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.

3) Do they offer transportation options?

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.

4) Do they offer dining choices?

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.

5) Are there opportunities to socialize and stay busy?

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.

Eileen Ryan-Maruke has been assisting seniors with housing options at St. Ann’s Community for 25 years. She helped launch both Chapel Oaks in Irondequoit and Cherry Ridge in Webster and continues to oversee marketing and sales for those communities. Contact her at [email protected].

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