Many older adults think about moving to a senior living community or have had talks with their family members about moving, but often have the feeling that they are ‘not ready’. We hear you, we understand, and we know people that have been through the same journey. At Vista Prairie, we’re here to help. We also have an “Independence Plus” program for more active older adults that just want peace of mind and safety but don’t necessarily need all the physical care.
Okay, just because you’re having the ‘not ready’ feeling, doesn’t mean you can’t work on getting things in order when or if you move. We also know that there may be hidden barriers that you’re facing and can help you work through those. Moving into a senior community is a big life change and we know that it’s not easy. The biggest importance to stress is that it’s better to have a plan and not need it, than to need a plan and not have when.
Here are 7 steps on how to get ready when you're not ready:
Talk to People About How You’re Feeling
As we age, we experience great losses, challenges, and fears as life changes. It’s beneficial to open up with those closest to you about those feelings so they can help support you. Sharing these feelings also open the door to making sure that if you move to a community, they can address those challenges or fears and help bring purpose and belonging back into your life in a way that you desire. If you don’t have someone close to you, we’re here to listen and support.
Write Down What’s Important to You
What is important to you in life? What do you value? What would I want in a place I called home? Friends to play cards with, help around 24/7 in case I fall, it’s important that where I move has a good onboarding so I don’t feel left out… Write those things down so that when you do tour, you can pick the place that will create an intentionally supportive environment that is just what you’re needing.
Visit Healthcare Providers
Hopefully, you are getting your regular check-ups with your primary physician, but if not, make an appointment. Have the doctor review your medication list to make sure the list is up to date and appropriate. Let him or her know that you are considering a move to senior living. If you end up needing to move to an assisted living setting, your doctor will have to sign off on orders. This can happen more quickly (and more smoothly) if you have recently seen your doctor and have had these discussions in person.
Research Your Options
- DO NOT click on A Place for Mom or Caring.com or fill out any of your information on their website. They are not free and not an unbiased resource. They are commission based and will only recommend you to the communities that they have a contract partnership, not based off of your needs, wants, community ratings, or pricing.
- Research senior care options in the area you’d like to reside. Think about where you want to live. In your hometown? Close to your adult children or grandkids? Tour 3 communities (at max) and ask to come for lunch, and/or for your favorite activity to get a feel for what your life would be like if you lived there. Remember it’s important to try the food. Talk to the other residents to get their perspective and what it was like for them to make the move and settle into their new home.
- Research what your monthly and annual expenses are and get a good handle on what your monthly income and current assets are worth. When you start looking around at senior living communities, you might experience some sticker shock. But, when you take stock of all that is included (and what you are currently paying for utilities, home, and yard maintenance, groceries, home security, a life alert system, taxes, etc.) you will start to see the value. Use our Home Cost Comparison worksheet to help you evaluate.
- Ask good questions. Make sure that you’re leading with what’s important to you and your family in a place you’d want to call home. Here are some Sample Tour Questions to download or print from our website.
Get Connected to the Community
Sign up for the newsletter or have calendars mailed to your home. Ask to come to lunches and special events, or volunteer at the community so you can meet friends before you move in. You’ll get to know the friendly staff and future neighbors which will go a long way in helping you feel at home.
Get On a Waiting List
Depending on where you want to be, what type of apartment you want, and what service level you need (independent living, assisted living, memory care or care suites) you may encounter long waiting lists. When you do your research and shop around, ask about waiting lists and get on a few of them. There’s no guarantee something will be available for you when you are ready, but this gives you a little more priority and increases your odds of getting the apartment you want when you want or need it. Communities like ours, also have benefits to being on our Future Neighbor Program aka Wait List, like invitations to special events and luncheons.
Get Your Paperwork in Order
When you move to a senior living community and it comes time to sign a lease, you will likely need to identify a Power of Attorney and Health Care representative, and you may need to provide copies of the forms. Make sure you have quick access to your notarized Power of Attorney form and your Health Care Directive.
That’s it! You may have noticed there is no ‘to-do’ item for the house. Even though getting the house ready, or needing to downsize, is a reason many people feel they’re not ready for a move, a lot of times, when people make a transition, it’s not because they’ve finished downsizing and their house is in perfect condition to sell. When you decide you’re ready, you’ll figure out quickly what to do with your house and your stuff. There are realtors and move managers who specialize in working with seniors who can make your move and the sale of your home a breeze!
We know it’s not easy, and that’s why we’re here to help. Consider us a resource full of options to help you navigate different options available to you, even if it’s not with our community.
Connect with us today at 715.403.4368 or visit VistaPrairie.org/Brentwood to talk to a senior care advisor about your questions or obstacles.