Whether you are looking for yourself or on behalf of a loved one, the decision to move into senior housing is difficult. Perhaps we feel embarrassed to have reached a stage in life where we need help. Or we feel guilty about being the one who has to tell a loved one “it’s time.”
Yet if there is a situation where a loved one is suffering from loneliness and isolation, or having difficulty with hygiene, paying bills, getting to medical appointments and remembering to take medications, their wellbeing is certainly compromised.
We recommend having the conversation about senior living needs sooner rather than later to avoid a healthcare crisis. Also, in the event of an emergency, the process of finding senior living becomes rushed and you may not find precisely what you are looking for long term.
As a first step in determining whether senior housing is advisable, speak with immediate family members about concerns as well as alerting a primary care physician who will arrange for appropriate cognitive and physical tests. Together you can determine the next steps in finding either in-house or senior housing care.
If a senior lifestyle community emerges as a favorable option, trust your instincts about where you or a loved one will be safe, happy and healthy. Organizations like the Pima Council on Aging and Our Family Social Services provide excellent guidance on finding care or housing among the many excellent choices in Tucson.
Have high expectations when touring communities. They should be nothing like a stereotypical nursing home. The community should look and smell clean, be attractive, offer varied social and health-enhancing activities, have happy residents cared for by credentialed and compassionate caregivers, and provide well-prepared meals that feature fresh and flavorful ingredients.
To compare apples to apples, make a list of questions to ask representatives at senior lifestyle communities when touring.
Last but not least — observe how the staff interacts with residents. Are they friendly and engaged, or do they appear to be overworked and stressed? Are they treating residents with respect or with impatience? Don’t be shy about asking a resident or two about their experiences with the staff. In the best of all possible worlds, you’ll hear the staff is friendly, caring and “like family.”
We hope this information will help you evaluate and choose a senior lifestyle community that’s right for you!