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Things To Consider When Evaluating Senior Residences

Things to consider when evaluating senior residences

When looking for senior residences there are numerous factors to consider.

Questions to consider about senior residences

Here are 5 important elements to evaluate before choosing the right retirement home for yourself or your loved one

1. Determine what type of care you need

Once hospital or home care is no longer an option, it is important to start the process of looking for a senior residence. You can book an appointment with a nurse at any retirement residence. The nurse will make an evaluation to assess your level of care. Levels of care help facilities to simplify their pricing structures. Depending on your needs, senior residences can offer independent living, assisted living, or memory care (Alzheimer’s and dementia). If you are considered independent and do not require help with your activities of daily living (ADLs) then there should be no care costs in your rent. This may also apply to seniors who require queuing (verbal reminders) for their ADLs. The aspects that typically determine the level of care a resident requires are as follows:

  • Dressing: Are you able to dress without assistance? Sometimes clothes fitted with Velcro could replace zippers and buttons. Are you able to make appropriate choices with your wardrobe according to the weather or the occasion?
  • Bathing: Do you need someone to help you shower or bathe? Typically, how often would you require this assistance?
  • Grooming: Are you able to regularly wash your face, brush your teeth and comb your hair?
  • Incontinence Care: Are you able to change your own diapers, liners or pull-up briefs without assistance?
  • Mobility: Are you able to walk without aid from another person? Getting around with a walker is considered acceptable.
  • Medications: Do you require supervision or assistance administering medications?

Some retirement homes only provide a certain level of service. The facility may have limitations so it is wise to inquire if you would have to move if your health needs increased. Once a person’s needs outgrow the home, it can ask the person to move out even if they’ve signed a contract. It is important to ensure that the residence can provide the appropriate level of care.

2. Cost

There’s cost. And then there’s value. Costs can vary greatly between different senior residences. Do not be timid to ask financial questions. Can you afford to live there for the rest of your life? Verify that the rent includes three meals a day plus housekeeping. Inquire if nursing visits, personal care and meds distribution are included. What is your criteria? Are you looking for 24/7 concierge services? Or are you looking for a retirement home that has care available 24/7? 

There is a wide range of à la carte services that are offered for autonomous and semi-autonomous individuals. Inquire exactly how much these add-on services cost

When touring a retirement community, ask them to calculate how much the Quebec tax credit will reduce your monthly rent. How can you terminate a lease?  What financial penalties may apply after ending a contract early? Several residences do offer a month-to-month option.

3. Location

Once it is time to move into a senior residence, it may be tempting to look for accommodations close to your current neighbourhood. But what if your closest friends are no longer living nearby and your family is spread out? Although the neighbourhood may be familiar, it could restrict the number of your visitors and the frequency of their visits. Often your children, relatives, or friends live in different parts of town or even out-of-province, or out-of-country.  Ponder who will be the most frequent visitor. Is the location convenient for him or her? Another consideration is whether you have a friend already living in a senior residence in your neighbourhood. This established bond of friendship can outweigh a little extra distance for some family members.

4. Size of the Residence

Active seniors may prefer the larger residences which are like a city unto themselves. The big community can allow more opportunity for new friendships, social activities, and outings. However, the numerous corridors and wings may be overwhelming to some seniors, who may liken this experience to being in a large hotel –it can be easy to get lost and not very homey. There are medium-size senior residences which also have bistros, gyms, movie theatres, etc. while accommodating residents in independent living, assisted-living, and memory care. A smaller scale retirement home option is the more intimate setting of a house and garden situated in a suburban neighbourhood.  For the elderly, this familiar setting can be quite comforting. Home-cooked meals and plenty of one-on-one attention is a big selling point.

5. Take a tour and stay for lunch

Book an appointment for a tour of the residence. The tasteful lobby, the inviting pool and the spa may all seem alluring to a younger generation but the more important aspects of the facility concern the level of care. Visit the doctor’s office and nursing station. Is there a nurse on staff 24/7? How often does the doctor visit?  How many PABs or Caregivers are there in the facility? This is particularly important in the areas where there are physical and cognitive issues. Do you see residents in the common areas or activities rooms? Is there a sense of community within the facility? Is there a healthy and appetizing daily menu? Do they cater to special dietary needs?

The better senior residences will invite you for a complimentary lunch. Take advantage of this so you can taste of the quality of the food. This is a perfect time to chat up the residents and ask them questions –they are a valuable source of information.  The residence encourages the seniors to be social and they arrange regular table seating according to personality traits. Lunch in the dining room is a chance for you to experience the atmosphere of the residence and see how the seniors interact with one another. Is it a friendly environment? Does it live up to its reputation?

Make an impromptu visit a week or so later. Try a different time slot to make sure that it is as appealing as it was during your tour.  If you are impressed with the second visit – great, but if the place seems very different you may want to consider visiting other facilities.

Are you considering retirement homes or senior residences for yourself or your loved one? We invite you to contact us today. We offer a complimentary retirement homes consultation service. During our free consultation, we can provide you with a list of potential retirement homes that have been personally selected based on your unique criteria and accompany you on tours to help you find the best residence.

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