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You’ve reached a difficult point in your life: it is time for you to help your loved ones find a senior living situation.

You may have thought you’d never be faced with this task, but here you are, and man, it’s an important one.

Finding a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable environment for your senior loved ones to live in is a duty not to be taken lightly.

According to studies, there are currently about 1 million people in the U.S. residing in a senior living community, which means there are many family members behind them helping out. 

The scary part is that not every senior living situation is good — there are some bad seeds and it is your job to weed out the bad and find the good.

Sounds pretty overwhelming, right?

That’s where we come in. We’ve spoken and collaborated with experts that are pros at helping people choose the best senior living situations, and following is what we’ve gathered.  Here are some great tips on how to get your loved ones in a place where they will be happy, and where you will be able to feel confident they’re being well cared for.

TIP 1: Choosing the right type of senior living

You may or may not know that there are a variety of senior living situations available to your loved ones.

The different situations vary depending on the level of help your loved ones need in living. And oftentimes, the level of help truly required is something that your loved one may not be too excited to admit, so you will have to do some investigation of your own.

Adriene Iverson, President & CEO of Elder Care Alliance, gave us the breakdown of the different categories of senior living:

Age Restricted Apartment Building

Similar to regular apartment building living, except that residents must either be 55 and older, or 62 and older. Some may have links to other services like meal delivery, but it is not part of the package.

Independent Living

Month-to-month rental, but typically has some services like housekeeping and one or more meals per day. If any assistance is needed with activities of daily living, the resident would have to contract with home care.

Assisted Living

This is a community where the monthly fee includes three meals per day, as well as housekeeping and laundry. In addition, assistance with activities of daily living (like medication management, bathing, dressing) can be provided — usually as part of an additional level of care fee.

Memory Care

Usually found in assisted living, but sometimes in skilled nursing, memory care typically provides specialized programming for persons living with dementia. Most memory care programs have some security aspect to the program, like delayed egress where an alarm sounds if a resident leaves the program unaccompanied.

Skilled Nursing

This is an appropriate setting for someone needing 24-hour skilled care.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

CCRCs typically have independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing on the same campus. An entrance fee is paid upfront, and, depending upon the type of contract, may range from fully amortizing (no refund), to fully refundable.

Phew, that’s a mouthful. But hopefully you’ll be able to find where your loved ones best fit in.

TIP 2: Visit the prospective living communities yourself

The only way to really get a feel of your loved ones’ new home is to experience it yourself.

Immerse yourself in this world of senior living.

Take notes and keep track of what you find.

Rick Weisberg, President of Assisted Living Nationwide, believes that in your hunt for a proper place for your loved ones, “location is crucial! Consider whether they prefer city to country; rustic to modern. Also consider such factors as age of residents, religious offerings, support services and amenities.”

Speaking of age,  those over of 85 are the majority in senior living communities.

Another thing you will find in any senior living community, whether country or city, is the fact that retirement communities are 69% female and 31% male.

Aside from demographics, there is a lot more you should learn about and put to the test when visiting your loved ones’ potential new home.

Weisberg shared with us an insider tip that is going to require some taste testing (and we’re sure you won’t be too bummed about this task): “You can tell a great deal about a senior home by visiting during lunch or dinner. This will give you an opportunity to see the socialization process of the current residents, meet the staff and often other family members. An added plus: you can sample the food!”

TIP 3: Consider the long-term

You may be feeling in a rush to get your loved ones into a place where they can be safe and happy. However, don’t rush into it too much and fail to think about things in the longer term.

As advised by Iverson: “Think about how care needs might change in the future. Moves can be incredibly difficult for older adults, so being able to move into a community that accommodates moves through various care levels as the needs of the senior change can be very beneficial.”

And Closetbox is here to help you with every move your loved ones need to make. With Closetbox’s valet storage system, as your loved ones’ care needs change, Closetbox makes placing things in a storage unit incredibly simple and easy for you.

Closetbox  will pick up your loved ones’  belongings and store them securely until they are needed again.  
It will be wonderful for you to have one less thing to worry about at this difficult time.

TIP 4: Know the financial situation you’re getting into

We are going to be honest, here: senior living communities are, for the most part, not cheap. In a study, it was revealed that the national average monthly cost of an assisted living community was $3,600.

Though that number varies from state to state, you should definitely ask questions about the money before signing on any dotted lines.

According to Iverson, “most senior living options outside of skilled nursing are private pay only. Skilled nursing (depending upon the facilities certification) may also accept Medicaid and Medicare.”

Of course, the more in-depth care your loved ones need, the bigger the monthly bill will be.

Weisberg informed us that “most people don’t realize that assisted living facilities, by law of the state they are in, are required to assess an incoming resident. This is crucial in determining the cost of care that the resident will pay over and above the regular apartment rental.”

In short: the total monthly cost of assisted living is not something that can be determined until the facility has conducted a thorough assessment of your loved ones.