For senior citizens considering a move to assisted living accommodations, the task can be very daunting and intimidating. Included in this article are my top ten tips when deciding upon senior assisted living either for yourself, for friends, or for family:
(1). Start the process at least nine months to a year in advance of the actual move. With long waiting lists at residences from demand of seniors looking to move in, it is important to not leave this until the last minute thinking you can easily get in because you will likely be surprised. Also, future waiting lists and times for Edmonton-area senior residences may actually increase.
(2). Decide what preliminary process you will use to identify potential locations. Many senior citizens are confused about where to start looking to find the right place. My advice: look in the Yellow Pages under ‘Senior Citizens’ to find ‘Senior Citizens’ Lodges and Homes’. In this section there are about 100 or more different places across the Greater Edmonton Area along with phone numbers, addresses, and even some very informative, descriptive advertisements.
(3). Decide upon a process to narrow down your list. If you are not sure how to begin, look at the 100+ different places, plot them on a map, and decide what boundary locations you are willing to move to. This may help you narrow down the list from 100 to as many as 20 or 30.
(4). Start making phone calls. Out of your list of 20 or 30 potential locations, call the locations to find out how long their waiting lists are, and any other information they are willing to mail out to you.
(5). Start making site visits. Out of your list of 20 to 30 potential locations, start doing drive-bys in your own vehicle; with a friend or family member (recommended for different perspective); or by taxi if you do not own a vehicle. This will help you see the locations and through this process you may find many are ruled out.
(6). Know the residence rules. Once you have defined a short list of specific locations, ask the residence to mail out a brochure that includes all of their rules. If you cannot live with their rules, there is no point moving in. You are better off to find another place with a more attractive set of rules.
(7). Know the prices (and what all is included) versus what you can afford. Once you have defined a short list of specific locations, ask the residence to mail out a price guide that explains what is offered at each price. If you cannot live with their prices for an extended length of time, there is no point moving in. You should find another place that better fits your budget. If you own a property you would be looking to sell, contact a quality REALTOR® to provide you with a professional home evaluation to give you an idea as to what money you would likely realize after the house is sold and you have moved to your new residence. Note markets change as time progresses, so it is always a good idea to allow some buffer room to avoid being caught in a market crash.
(8). Know what services are being offered at the different residences. Although there are many similarities between residences, there can also be very significant differences. Types of services offered may include (but not be limited to) the following: emergency call systems; wheelchair accessibility; elevators; full-time security guards; full dining room service; laundry and housekeeping; daily senior organized activities (i.e. social and recreation); air conditioned suites and common areas; choice of monthly rental vs. leases; level, quantity, and 24-hour availability of professional on-site staff vs. number of residents (i.e. compare staff-to-resident ratios); on-site medical, pharmaceutical, and dental care; inclusion of utilities and TV; schedule and modes of transportation offered; etc.
(9). Talk to seniors who are living at the residence as well as the people who work there. To do this most effectively, you should perform this at more than one location on your shortlist so that you can effectively compare and analyze one residence versus the others. The idea of speaking with seniors is to find out if they have any problems; do they like living there; would they recommend it as a great place to live; how receptive, courteous, friendly, and helpful are the staff to the residents; etc. * Note: to use this approach successfully, it is very important to talk to at least four or five different seniors for their opinions, and not ones who are all in the same group or table in order to get the most honest and candid assessments of each location. This could be your most important step towards making your best decision.
(10). Once you have made a decision, do not wait around. Like buying a house or condo, there are other buyers of senior residence services in the market so once you have selected the place you want to move into, proceed to sign up on a waiting list so that you would be next in line when an opening comes available. To cover your bases, you may want to sign up to your top three choices to cover risk of excess waiting. If there is a lengthy lease contract with a lot of legal terms they want you to sign, you should consider speaking with a good real estate lawyer or landlord and tenant lawyer to make sure that what you are signing is in your best interests. Then, after a few months or after many months you may suddenly get a call that an opening has come up and you need to be ready to make a move. If you have a house or condo to sell, call your REALTOR® and put your home on the market (only once your move-in date is 100% secure and guaranteed unless you have alternative moving arrangements) so that you will have the monetary proceeds to spend as needed in your new lifestyle.
In summary, it is true moving to a senior residence can sometimes be upsetting and frustrating for seniors who like their home and do not really want to move. When seniors decide it is time to make the move, it is important for them, their family, and their friends to be as optimistic, supportive, and prepared as possible in efforts to make sure the change will be a life improvement (and not a life detriment) with more relaxation, less chores to do, more activities to enjoy, and more new people to meet.
[Article written and ©2010 by Kelly Grant, M.Eng., ABR, NCSO, P.Eng. - REALTOR® at Maxwell Devonshire Realty in Edmonton, AB]
Disclaimer: for those readers not currently represented by another licensed REALTOR®, to obtain more information on this topic and / or if you are serious about selling or buying in the Greater Edmonton Area, call Kelly at 780-414-6100 (pager) or send Kelly an email to SOLD@KellyGrant.ca to schedule a confidential appointment.