Decision Guide

Senior Living Decision Guide

Whether you're concerned about an elderly parent or you're a senior yourself, making the move to Senior Living can be one of the biggest life changes you'll ever face. We hope this simple guide will help you understand and act on the steps you and your family need to take.

1. Looking Around

Once you’ve made the fundamental decision to move to a Senior Living community, the next step is determining where you want to be: in the city? Near to nature? Near family?

You can find Senior Living facilities in your area through the websites of the Maine Healthcare Association and LeadingAge, both offering a wealth of listings, resources, information, and guidance on what to look for in a senior community.

You’ll find that the web is a great place to do your research and narrow down your options. If you like a facility but are not sure about some of its offerings, don’t be afraid to call and ask. And when you’re ready, schedule a visit to a few facilities to see what life is like there yourself.

2. How much will it cost?

Probably more than you would like, but there are many affordable options out there these days. Some facilities (including The Park Danforth) provide pricing on their website, so there are no surprises.

Independent Living facilities often offer market rate apartment rentals which can range from $2,000 to $4,000 per month, but Federal housing assistance for some apartments can reduce the cost significantly. There is also a trend toward continuing care, offering residents the ability to "age in place" with the knowledge that a move will never be required for health reasons, with a continuum of care that includes independent and assisted living, as well as skilled nursing and memory care.

For assisted living, costs can vary widely depending on location and the level of care. Along with rent, lease, or purchase costs, there may be add-ons necessary:

  • assistance with medications
  • laundry service
  • transportation to doctors, shopping and elsewhere
  • security deposit
When pricing and comparing independent and assisted living facilities, try to find out how often fees rise, and how much notice you will get before they do.

3. Once the time has come, what steps will we need to take?

If you've never faced this kind of challenge before, dealing with medical paperwork, coordinating schedules, and pulling together family resources can be daunting, to say the least. When you're planning the final chapters of a life, emotions will surely arise. It can be overwhelming! But remember, you can accomplish what needs to get done better when you stay calm and organized.

  • Collect all medical records including drug information (name of drug, purpose and dosage). Keep these up to date and bring current drug information with you when visiting a doctor (and make sure that caregivers have the information on-hand).
  • Adult children struggling to deal with a parent's care can join a caregiver group; they can be found through local senior centers, churches or assisted living communities. Caregiver groups can provide advice, emotional support, and empathetic company on this new journey.
  • Stay engaged with family and friends. Family members can take turns calling or visiting, and coordination of visits and calls from friends and neighbors can be helpful, too. As many family members as possible should be included in the process; even if everyone doesn't always agree, everyone should be heard. If there is extreme disagreement in the family, mediation by an elder care attorney or minister might be necessary.
  • Make sure that wills, living wills and power of attorney are in order. Gather as much information as you can about bank accounts, insurance policies, names of doctors, lawyers and ministers. Naturally, this can be a difficult subject for parents and their children; to make it easier, the adult children can discuss and take care of these tasks for themselves at the same time.

4. What kind of community should we expect?

When making the move to Senior Living, the concept of Community should be foremost in your mind. What kind of community are you hoping for? Will you be welcomed, and can you easily engage with the folks who live there?

The community also extends beyond the residents of the facility:

  • The staff who work there
  • People in the neighborhood
  • Nearby family and friends
  • Local merchants and services
  • Proximity to churches, shopping and cultural events
How do you and your family feel about the many different people and features of this community? Weigh the pros and cons carefully, because community could be a deciding factor in the final choice.

5. What can be taken to the new residence?

Naturally, that depends on how much space there will be in the new home. Undoubtedly you will want to bring favorite pictures and familiar things that make you feel at home right away, things that can be shared and talked about with new neighbors.

What about furniture? Make a floor plan of the new residence, on paper or on a computer, and do a rough layout of how the furniture fits. That will help you decide what furniture to bring, and what to do with any excess. It's better to sell or give that furniture to someone who needs it rather than move it to a family member's basement or an expensive storage facility.

Regarding pets, some communities allow small dogs and cats, others do not. If you're not sure, ask the community you're interested in about their pet policy.

6. How much might my life change?

It could change a lot. This move could be the last of your life, but instead of feeling angry, sad or depressed, take the positive view and welcome the shift as an unburdening of the family, and a greater feeling of security about ongoing care.

Many communities have supportive programs to help you stay mentally, physically, and socially engaged. Appropriate to the level of mobility and mental ability, this renewal of positive interaction can be very rewarding and open new horizons for many who make the move to senior living.

An adult child of an aging parent will also be focused on the same issues, and will also need to get comfortable with this new phase. How many parents have breathed a sigh of relief when the children leave home, yet at the same time miss them deeply; such conflicting emotions are natural. Don't stress-out over it, but try to talk the changes through as a family. And remember that like every family dynamic, it will continue to evolve.

7. How can the move be made easier?

Elders should be as involved in the decision, and in the move, as possible. It's your life, and your choice. To help you decide, make advance visits together with family members and talk with several residents. If you can, have more than one meal in the communities you prefer.

Some assisted living communities offer weekend visits to help potential residents make a decision; some also offer "respite care" to give families some downtime.

8. What if problems come up?

In the world of senior housing, there are certainly some frightening stories out there, but many heartwarming ones as well. The fact is, most people serving the needs of seniors are dedicated, hard working, and caring people.

To avoid potential problems, research your chosen community through a local ombudsperson, a trusted senior advocate who inspects and rates communities and knows which ones are safe, clean and well managed. If an incident should occur, don’t hesitate to speak with an elder care attorney who specializes in the legal needs and rights of seniors.

For a better understanding of senior rights and important legal issues, visit the Justice in Aging website.

Understanding how to best move your parent into a Senior Living facility will naturally vary for each family, but these guidelines and suggestions are a good start in understanding what may lie ahead. Please use this guide to help you arrive at the questions that apply to your family’s unique situation – then give us a call and we’ll help you get further down the road on this all-important journey.

Contact the Sales & Marketing Office • 207-797-7710