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P&K How To: Tough Choices: Choosing a Retirement Facility for an Aging Parent

It’s difficult to think about our parents needing care when they’ve taken care of us as long as we can remember. In a perfect world, we could care for our aging parents ourselves. But sometimes, the best thing for them is to look for a place that can provide exactly what they need for a happy, healthy life. I spoke to Katy Roberson, Activity Assistant Director at a local retirement community, for advice on choosing the best facility for your family members.

First, Katy says, be realistic about your parents’ needs and abilities. Are your parents fairly independent and just looking to lessen their responsibilities and live with their peers, or do they need more assistance with daily tasks? This will help you decide whether to look into assisted living facilities or retirement communities. 

One thing to consider is that some places offer both assisted living and independent living sections, which can be great because you never know what will happen in the future. Your parent may be thriving now but, unfortunately, will not stay that way forever. Instead of having to uproot him, you can help him transition from one area of the facility to another, where he is already familiar with the people and the environment. 

The next step is to schedule appointments with each of the facilities in your area (Katy recommends looking into all options, not just one or two). If your parent is able to come with you, bring him so he can see for himself what it would be like to live at each place and if he would be comfortable there. Take a tour of each facility and consider the overall atmosphere of each one. Do the residents seem happy and healthy? You may even be allowed to ask current residents what they like and dislike about living there. 

You may also want to ask what kinds of activities and outings are offered for residents. Are the residents being mentally stimulated and offered frequent opportunities for physical exercise? It’s also important to see what kind of socialization opportunities are available to residents, and if they will have chances to venture out of the facility sometimes for excursions like shopping, entertainment, and church. 

Don’t forget to discuss costs and payment plans so you will know what to expect in the future and how to budget for long-term care. Making a decision like this one can be tough at the moment, but you will feel confident knowing your aging parent is in good hands and receiving the best care possible. 

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