Considering a senior community or skilled care facility for your loved one?
When a parent or loved one is ready to move from their home, family members need to know how to help select the right living arrangements for them.
It's best to go into the search with some knowledge about what to look for and what to look out for. After all, this is most likely a new situation for everyone involved and going into with a checklist is a good idea.
In addition to doing some research and preparing questions, you can also enlist the help of agencies or other assistants in your search.
One such agency, the Barrington Area Council on Aging (BACOA), offers free housing referrals based on professional expertise and field experience while receiving no money from the referred community -- which means you will receive an objective referral.
"Our services and programs help older adults maintain a quality of life that matches their needs, wants and abilities," said Susan Olafson, communications and development director for BACOA. "Most BACOA services are free or based on a sliding fee scale determined by the senior's financial status."
Here are some factors to consider when selecting the best community for a loved one.
One size does not fit all
When it comes to housing for older adults, active adults may want to live in an independent living or retirement community. Those that require an increased level of supervision and assistance will need to consider a skilled nursing facility, nursing home or rehabilitation center.
In some cases, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) community may be a good choice because they offer all levels of care, and you can remain in the community as you transition from one level of care to another.
When looking at various housing options, check out the amenities they offer. It's important that they fit the needs of the older adult. Communities may have some or all of the following:
• On-site beauty shop and barbershop
• Theater room
• On-site library
• Fitness room or gym
• Swimming pool
• Full-service bank
• Patio and outdoor courtyards
• Store with snacks, staples and toiletries
• Chapel offering religious services
• Transportation assistance
• Walk-in clinic
Living in an older adult community often means making new friends. This is important because it can be difficult for older adults to make friends when they don't have the social aspect of work or volunteer activities. Also, many of their friends may have passed or have serious health issues.
The community often offers planned activities, live entertainment and outings that keep older adults engaged. You might go to a movie, out to eat, or to a baseball game or take a computer class, join a book club, or enroll for an art class. These are good ways to meet new friends with a similar mindset.
A healthy lifestyle
An older adult community often encourages a healthy lifestyle with these offerings:
• Various kinds of exercises to keep residents moving while having fun.
• Chef-prepared, nutritious meals tailored to the changing health needs of residents.
• Eating in the dining room is also conducive to meeting other residents.
• A safe living environment that is designed for mobility and accessibility.
• Offers expert care and medical attention if needed.
Observations to make
When you visit a community, take note of the following items, which will give you a good idea of the quality of the community.
• Atmosphere. Does it have a good vibe, light and bright
• Cleanliness. Does the residence feel fresh and clean.
• Appearance of residents. Are they clean-shaven and well groomed, nails trimmed, hair neat, dressed appropriately.
• Staff. Are they friendly, attentive, how do they interact with residents, do they listen and make eye contact.
• Activities. Are they well attended, and are residents enjoying themselves.
• Dining room. Does it look appealing and the food appetizing.
In a perfect world, you won't outlive your money. But when the number of people living past 90 has more than tripled in the last 30 years, it can happen. That's why it's important to know what options the community offers in this situation. Know whether the community accepts Medicaid.
"We believe that aging is a natural process of growth and maturation that brings challenges, rewards and opportunities for older adults to continue to develop their minds and bodies," the BACOA's Olafson said. Last year, the organization helped nearly 800 Barrington-area residents with information and referrals for older adult housing.
This story is sponsored by the Barrington Area Council on Aging, which is hosting the Barrington Brew Fest from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 7, in downtown Barrington.
For more information, visit www.bacoa.org.
Brew Fest sizzles with craft beers, fabulous food and live musicWhat: 15th Annual Barrington Brew Fest
When: Saturday, July 7
Time: 3 to 7 p.m.
Where: Downtown Barrington near Metra tracks in center of town
Taste: Craft beers from best breweries around
Eat: Fantastic food from prime restaurants
Entertainment: Live music by Chicagoland's premiere classic rock cover band Second Time Around
Tickets: $45 general admission purchased after June 15; $50 general admission purchased day of event
Hosted by: Barrington Area Council on Aging (BACOA), a charitable organization. Proceeds will benefit the elderly with programs that include:
• Memory Cafe, a socialization program for those struggling with Alzheimer's and dementia and their caregivers
• "A Day Out" Respite program, which provides engaged care for those with health issues while their caregiver takes needed time away
• Meals with Wheels, a hot, food program for elderly unable to cook either because of poor health or low income
• Support and education groups for those struggling with everything from Alzheimer's to Parkinson's
• Supportive services for family caregivers