March 26, 2019

Choosing an assisted living community for a parent or older loved one can be a time-sensitive decision. Far too often, family members wait until an emergency arises to discuss the need for assisted living. By this time, their loved one may need more advanced, 24-hour nursing care. This situation can cause families to feel pressured to make a decision quickly, without enough time to thoroughly compare all their options.

For this reason, some older adults find that moving to an assisted living community early – while they are still relatively healthy and independent – has many benefits. Here are four good reasons to get a head start on the assisted living search:

Prevent loneliness and isolation

Many older adults would like to live in their familiar home for as long as possible, but living alone can be lonely and isolating. In fact, research finds that about one in three U.S. older adults reports feeling lonely. One reason to move to assisted living is to prevent the loneliness and social isolation that may come with living alone. In assisted living, older adults live in a warm, community-centered atmosphere where they have opportunities for fun, social activities every day. They enjoy everything from group fitness classes to book clubs, to live entertainment and special outings. When it comes to socialization and quality of life, many older adults find that assisted living trumps “aging in place”.

Enjoy peace of mind

The move to an assisted living community can also help ease any worries about safety and security, offering peace of mind to older adults and their families. In assisted living, a dedicated care team provides assistance with daily activities such as grooming, dressing, and medication management. In case of emergencies, on-site nursing and security staff can be contacted immediately. Additionally, living in a community setting as opposed to a living alone at home provides a deterrent to criminal activity. With 24-hour on-site security monitoring and emergency call systems, you can rest assured knowing that your parent is in a safe and secure environment.

Take advantage of services and amenities

Along with on-site healthcare services, assisted living communities provide access to services and amenities that can’t be found in a typical home environment. For example, many communities have multiple dining options, including community dining rooms and access to on-campus restaurants, with chef-prepared meals served each day. Maintenance and repair services and housekeeping services are also offered, meaning that residents no longer have to worry about the chores like mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, washing windows, or cleaning gutters. Examples of other on-campus amenities commonly found in assisted living communities include fitness centers, a beauty salon and barbershop, and areas for worship and community activities. Transportation to physician’s offices and scheduled outings may also be offered.

Reserve a place in advance

Today’s assisted living communities are in high demand. If you wait until an emergency occurs to start looking, your parent could end up on a long waitlist or have to settle for a community that isn’t their top choice. Start researching and visiting nearby assisted living communities to get a feel for your parent’s preferences. If you do your research early ­– before your parent needs assisted living – you’ll have plenty of time to compare your options. You may even be able to get on a waiting list and reserve your parent’s first-choice assisted living apartment months in advance.

In some continuing-care retirement communities, residents who are currently living in independent living receive priority registration for assisted living apartments on the same campus. This way, when they need a little extra assistance, they can transition seamlessly to the next level of care. Even if your parent isn’t ready for assisted living quite yet, independent living can help them prepare them for the next step and ensure they have a guaranteed place in the community of their choosing.

Don’t put off the search for an assisted living community until a crisis arises. Start touring communities now and even getting on waiting lists while your parent is still independent. It can make all the difference when they need a bit more help.