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Levels of care: What one is best for Mom?

Moving into a retirement community is a big step in anybody's life. Whether you're considering making the change for yourself or are planning on behalf of a parent, finding the right retirement community to provide adequate care is hugely important. When making a retirement community the new home for you or a loved one, there are a number of considerations to take into account. However, at the top of that list is determining what level of care will be needed in retirement living.

There are varying levels of senior care that retirement communities provide (some may have more services or equipment than others), which may impact your search. Aligning care needs with retirement community options can help you find that perfect fit.

So how do you go about assessing the care needs of you or a loved one and what is required of a retirement community? Here's where to begin:

Daily life

The first step in evaluating care needs is looking at how easily your parent can perform regular daily tasks like getting dressed, grooming, doing laundry, cleaning personal spaces, eating, going to the bathroom and getting around. All of these activities can become slightly harder with age, a reality which may need to be planned for in your retirement community search. For many, taking care of themselves isn't an issue and their mobility is just fine, which would indicate an arrangement like independent senior living would work. However, if there's difficulty experienced in bathing or getting dressed, an assisted living option would be more beneficial. Regardless of whether you or a loved one needs help now, making sure your chosen community has these options and services available is best practice in these situations.

Medications

It's common for seniors considering moving into a retirement community to have a range of medications that they need to manage. When at home and reliant on day-of-the-week pill boxes, there's always the potential for a mistake to be made. That's why, when vetting senior living options, you or your loved one should look specifically at how the location would help manage medications. For example, look for whether a caregiver is provided to help ensure the right medications are taken at the right times. If you or a loved one require injections, ask whether there are medically trained staff who will be able to administer doses. Another thing to look for in a retirement community is whether there's an on-site pharmacy. Not every community will have this feature, but if it's vital to you or a loved one's interests, be on the lookout for locations offering such an amenity.

Memory care

Evaluating care needs in retirement also means considering the effect of memory disorders and dementia. Complications like Alzheimer's Disease can place a strain on family caregivers, which leads many to consider professional options. If dementia is part of the reason for moving, a community that has memory care services should definitely be targeted. Memory care is a very particular and sometimes intensive service, and finding a community that is adequately staffed and prepared to deliver high-level memory care will ensure quality of life in retirement.

Like featuring an on-site pharmacy, not every retirement community you encounter will be able to provide sufficient memory care. That's why it's important to address this need in any conversation you have.

Advancing care

Looking for a retirement community is not only about finding care for today, but also tomorrow. Life happens, and for seniors change in care needs can come quickly. Sometimes an accident requires greater care attention, or arthritis gets particularly bad more quickly than expected. In any case, making sure you or a loved one will be taken care of when care needs grow is a priority before moving in. Though it might not be the most top-of-mind consideration or a subject that's easy to broach, advancing care needs are a critical factor to your decision. Always ask potential communities questions beyond what you need in the now, and focus on what they can provide in the future.

Assessing care needs can be a daunting task, but it's one that's essential to finding the best retirement community possible. By taking into account all of the above variables, as well as other personal needs, you or a loved can narrow your choices down to the locations that most suit your needs—both now and in the future. Whenever undertaking this process, it's important to find a retirement community that can assist you in refining your search.

Planning your or your loved one's retirement? Talk to us today for help.