How to Find the Best Senior Care Facility for a Loved One

I received a call yesterday from a client who resides on the East Coast. She is starting the process of trying to find senior housing for her parents, who reside in Culver City and wanted some recommendations. There are a few in the local area, which range in price and some have a waiting lists. As someone who just experienced this myself with my own father, I thought it was worth sharing.

My dad resides in Kansas and is in overall good health. The issue for him is his mobility and the fact that he can't move as fast or as well as he once did. He lives in an upstairs apartment, which requires him to climb two flights of stairs. Stairs are the enemy for him at this point in his life! I worry about him trying to carry his groceries upstairs or slipping and falling during the winter when the stairs are icy. I'm helpless when I'm so far away and I'm making plans to change that. After several hard conversations, we agreed that he would move here to Culver City. This process to get to an agreement took time and lots and consideration on both of our parts. Ironically, his biggest complaint is that the KC Chiefs football and KU basketball games don't typically air on the West Coast. Simple things in life! Thank goodness for the internet!!

It's a difficult decision and it impacts the entire family. You want your loved one to be happy, and many seniors are resistant to the idea of leaving their home behind for either an assisted living or senior living facility at first. If you take the time to find the right location, the transition will be much easier. My overall goal for my dad is to improve his long-term happiness and be close by when he needs me.

Take a few steps that can help you hone in on the right senior care facility for your loved one.

1) Figure Out The Budget

You need to know what you or your loved one can afford. Most families don't like talking about money, but now if the time to lay all the cards on the table. Find out how much your loved one receives each month in social security? How much do they have in their retirement accounts? Do they have a pension or any VA benefits? If necessary, how much can you or other loved ones contribute on a monthly basis? If they own a home, how much would it potentially sell for?

Use these numbers to determine what they're able to spend monthly on a facility. If they have long-term care insurance or are eligible for the Aid and Attendance Pension, then look into how much that will cover in monthly assisted living costs as well.

Assisted living is an expense a family has to plan for and if you don't you will be in for a shock! Don't be surprised if you still come up short after to tally everything up. In the Culver City area, the least expensive option for a studio size space runs over $3000/month.

2) Research Your Options

Utilize the free resources that are available to assist you in your search. A number or websites collect information about senior care services, which can make your life much easier. These sites provide details about the amenities included, comments from current or past residents, pictures of common areas & rooms, and lists of what's available in your price range.

Two websites that I would recommend are A Place for Mom and OurParents. Both have the best reviews and lots of resources online to get you started.

3) Tour the Facility

Once you've narrowed down your search, go and see them for yourself. If you live out of town and can't visit them in person, ask a friend or family member to check it out for you. Walk the facility and see it in its entirety. Speak with some of the residents to get their take on the place too!

As in real estate, you wouldn't buy a house without doing a walk-through, so you definitely need to do the same for any senior living facility you are considering. Photos can be edited, so don't believe everything you see before seeing it in person when looking at facilities online. I reviewed one online and thought it look amazing and when I went to see it in person, there is no way I would move my worst enemy into that facility.

All of us have either been through this with a parent or grandparent or will be soon, so this is just to get you to think about it before it hits you unexpectedly. Have the discussions with your loved one and try to make it more like an adventure vs. a horrible thing you are forcing them to do. Most importantly, make them a part of the decision making process and find out what's most important to them. Do they want to be close to shops and restaurants? Do they want to live near public transportation? Ask a lot of questions and you'll be happy you did!

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