Eight things to think about: independent senior living

| Bridget Ryder | September 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

Moving into an independent senior living facility is not something all seniors consider when they retire, but it’s an option they might want to put on the table sooner rather than later. Anne Marie Bartlett, director of care coordination at Twin Cities-based senior care and housing organization Saint Therese, points out that with 285,000 Minnesotans turning 65 years old by the end of this decade, planning and education about senior living options are essential.

To get the ball rolling, here are eight things seniors will want to consider when it comes to independent senior living.

1. Affordability. Senior living facilities, even for those who are independent and healthy, can be expensive, said Les Grant, associate professor and director of the Center of Aging Services Management at the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Seniors will not only want to look at their own income and assets, but also will want to consider whether or not a facility participates in government-funded programs such as Elderly Waiver and Housing Support that can help qualifying seniors pay for rent and medical care. Senior Public Housing, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, could also be an affordable option for some seniors.

2. Waiting lists. Facilities can have waiting lists, said Bobbie Guidry, vice president of Housing and Community Services at LeadingAge Minnesota. A senior can’t necessarily expect to be able to move in the month after he or she decides an independent living facility is the right choice. Shopping around and getting on a waiting list can be a smart move. The waiting list for senior public housing can be years long, Grant said.

3. Neighbors. Seniors should also consider how they feel about having only fellow seniors as neighbors. Grant said that he used to be against these “segregated communities” of older adults, but now he sees advantages to them. Housing exclusively for seniors can provide them with neighbors who look after each other, friendships and a way to expand their social circle.

4. Know thyself. Experts say to look beyond the basics of affordability and safety. “As we get older we become more and more who we are,” Grant said. Seniors need to make an honest assessment of their intellectual, physical and social needs, and whether or not an independent living facility can help them meet them.

5. Options. Independent senior living facilities come in a variety of forms. Some can be as basic as condominiums with age restrictions while others can offer a host of amenities. “People might want to inquire if it’s a registered housing-with-services center,” Guidry said. “In Minnesota, assisted living is a program, not a place.” A housing-with-services center may offer meals, housekeeping, transportation and in-home health care that residents can purchase as needed or desired.

6. Family. Seniors may also want to think about whether the facility will allow them to host their family for visits, celebrations or overnight stays. Some facilities have party rooms and guest rooms that residents can use, Guidry said.

7. Location. A good location means different things to different people. Guidry pointed to several factors to consider, including proximity of family, climate and easy accessibility to volunteer opportunities beyond the senior campus.

8. Faith. Senior living facilities can also support residents in their faith. “There are a good number of faith-based organizations,” Guidry said. “Some Catholic facilities offer Mass daily.”

Ultimately, seniors have to trust their instincts in considering a senior living situation, experts said.

“It is sort of like buying a house,” Bartlett said. “You have a feeling this is the place you can envision living.”

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Category: Retirement Planning