Many of us will face a tricky question sooner or later: is there a “right time” for our parents to consider moving to a retirement community or assisted-living facility? According to AARP, 87% of adults over 65 prefer to stay in their current homes as they age. Aging at home can be a viable option with proper planning, but only if it best suits both your loved one’s and your family’s needs.

There are many positive aspects of assisted-living communities. They can allow seniors to enjoy maintenance-free living while maintaining their independence. Assisted living is an excellent option for older adults who need help with some daily tasks but want to stay engaged socially. Studies show that engaging in social activities provides increased happiness and improves overall well-being, especially in retirement.

It is often not clear at what point care outside the home may be necessary or even preferred. Answering these questions can help you know when to consider moving your loved one: 

— Can they maintain their home? 

— Do they forget to take their medications?

— Do they have an increased risk of falling?

— Are they eating healthy meals, and do they have fresh food in the refrigerator? 

— Are they able to bathe themselves, do the laundry, and brush their teeth?

— Do you feel they’re becoming isolated and need more socialization?

There are likely many retirement communities in your local area that offer various degrees of assisted living. Asking the right questions can narrow your search and help you find a neighborhood well-matched to your loved one’s lifestyle and needs. It can be overwhelming, but one way to narrow down your options is to prioritize the needs of your loved one, including interests and preferences. Then, consider the features as you view different facilities in your area. 

— Is it close to you and other family members?

— Are there different levels of nursing/assistance should your loved one’s needs increase while they are living there? 

— How many meals do they provide daily?

— Are the staff qualified, friendly and knowledgeable?

— Are there healthcare providers on-site, or will you be required to take your loved one out of the facility for doctor visits?

— What amenities are significant to your loved one? Examples might include a swimming pool, transportation to doctors and shopping, laundry and housekeeping, hair-care services, etc. 

— What community activities does the facility offer? Frequently facilities can provide a calendar of events.

If it’s possible, tour a facility with your loved one. A tour can provide the opportunity to speak with other residents and interact with the staff. Bring your list of needs and wants to help determine if the retirement community is suitable for your loved one. 

Eventually, most seniors will need assistance performing daily activities, whether in their home or a retirement community. Planning will give your family ample time to consider the options and prepare for the transition. While each community is different, knowing your senior has the help they need for an improved quality of life can give your family peace of mind.