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Planning for Senior Living


We’ve heard the same story over, and over again – “We had to make a quick decision on where to live because we had a health crisis.” None of us do our best decision making during a crisis. We don’t have the time to do the research, and we’re under a lot of stress to solve big problems. We want ourselves, or our parents to be happy where they live. Almost all seniors want to stay at home and never relocate to an assisted living. Sometimes our “wants” and our “needs” just don’t match up.


When Is The Right Time To Start Planning for Senior Living?

So, if you’re a senior, or concerned about your parents well-being, the time to think about this issue is now. It’s a hard subject to approach, but it is necessary. If you can see your parents’ health declining, or their ability to take care of themselves is diminishing – you must have the talk. The key is to be a good listener, and be persistent.


The talk could start like this. “Mom, (or Dad), have you thought about what you might do if you couldn’t stay by yourself any longer?” Give them plenty of time to answer. Try to have the conversation sitting down where you can look at them when they talk. Make sure they know you are concerned about their wishes and their needs.


What Are The Available Senior Living Care Options?

The good news is there’s lots of option available today. From in-home care, assisted-living, independent living to memory care. A lot of your decisions will be based on affordability. You’ll need to know your parents’ assets, insurance coverage, and if they have long-term care insurance. Many seniors will decide to sell their homes. Others will opt to have in-home care. If your parents are members of an HMO, many of these organizations have geriatric care managers who can help you a lot. They will also be able to tell you if your parents care might be covered for a time through their insurance.


You’ll need to know the location that would make them happiest. Most seniors want to stay in the area where they’ve lived so they won’t lose touch with friends and neighbors. If their children, including you, live far away, they might chose to move closer for familial support.


Finding the senior housing options in your area can be as easy as turning on your computer. Type in “senior housing” and the location where your loved one wishes to live. Take your time and take notes. It might help to ask your parent if they know of someone who has moved into a senior community. Starting your search where your parent will know someone, might make it easier.


Once you make a list, start contacting the communities. Set up a tour date. Most communities will feed you a meal, so your parent will know the quality of food they serve. Some communities allow small pets to accompany their residents. This is a big plus for many seniors who just won’tgive up a pet to move. Find out if transportation is also available. Knowing your parent can make appointments without you can come in very handy. While you are there, make sure and talk to residents about their experiences. They’re the ones who really know what it’s like to live there.


Respite care is another option for acquainting your loved one with a senior community. Many assisted livings offer respite care. Clients are often treated like personal guests. Your loved one will find out firsthand what the community offers in way of food, activities, and services. Treat their stay like a mini-vacation. Tell your parent “You deserve a nice weekend away.”


In-home care might be a good fit for your parent, depending on their needs. You can also find service providers on the web. If you think your parents might need these services in the near future, start contacting a few companies. Ask if you can contact current clients for their assessment of services. Make sure their employees are bonded, have certifications, and are CPR trained. Always ask the cost of services. Know what services your parents might need, and how many hours per week they’ll benefit from outside help.


So, do your homework, and enjoy the process. You’ll feel better having a plan that you and your parent can live with . . . before a crisis.


About The Author: Karen Everett Watson is a Gerontologist and has over 10 years experience as a Journalist. Karen has spent 4 years in the senior community interviewing retirement community residents and wrtites articles for, a comprehensive Assisted Living online directory, trusted by seniors and families. also provides free placement services to help Seniors and their families find assisted living based on the senior’s care needs, family’s budget and location.


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