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Selecting a Senior Living Community

Assisted and independent living is becoming a popular choice for seniors all across America.  Seniors are finding that assisted and/or independent living options are perfect for a more comfortable lifestyle.  However, available services can vary widely, and care ranges from independent living to nursing home levels of care. 

Let’s first look at what the difference is between independent and assisted living?

What is Independent Living?

An independent living community is for active older adults who want an enjoyable lifestyle free of the worries and trouble of home maintenance. They are similar to any apartment, condominium, or single-family development, except that they provide special services, including security, an important consideration for many residents. Avera Sacred Heart Majestic Bluffs has 30 spacious independent living apartments and offers residents a variety of activities that promote social contact among residents. Residents can participate in a meal plan or prepare meals in their own apartment.

What is assisted living?

Assisted living communities are designed for individuals who cannot function in an independent living environment but do not need nursing care on a daily basis. Assisted living communities usually offer help with bathing, dressing, meals, medication needs and housekeeping. The amount of help provided depends on individual need. Avera Sacred Heart Majestic Bluffs has 29 assisted living apartments including nine memory care units for people with Alzheimer’s Disease. It is important to remember that if you choose the assisted living alternative, you are still independent.  At Avera Sacred Heart Majestic Bluffs, assisted living residents have a complete apartment with their own bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and living room.  The “assisted” part of the equation is just that  - staff is there to assist people in living a healthy, independent and full life. 

What To Look For in an Independent or Assisted Living Community?

Before you begin your search for an independent or assisted living facility, it is important to know your immediate and long-term care needs and expectations.  How will your future health care needs be met?  It is important to have a specific plan covering various contingencies.  In addition to visiting several communities and talking to residents and staff, it is important to do a careful comparison of fees and services. An all-inclusive fee that seems to be high at first could turn out to be more advantageous than a fee-for-service arrangement that combines a low basic rate with extra charges for the services you need.

What are the Important Questions to ask?

  • What services are offered?  Are they included in the base price or will there be added fees for extra services or care?
  • How are the fees determined?  Is the resident or family informed and included in any changes before they occur?
  • What financial commitment will be expected at entry into the facility?  What happens if the money runs out?  Are there other funding sources that the facility utilizes?
  • What care can you expect to receive for the quoted fee?
  • Can you use outside providers such as family or hired care provides to supplement your care needs?
  • What will happen when your care needs exceed the capabilities of the facility and how will you be informed when this occurs?
  • What services and care are provided and what outside care providers are available?
  • Can the facility accommodate special dietary needs?  Are meals prepared on the premises or transported from another location?
  • Are housekeeping and laundry services available?
  • What specialized services are available on campus, such as physical therapy, exercises, treatments, etc.
  • Is the facility handicap accessible
  • Is there a resident or family council and what, if any, issues have been addressed?  Is the facility responsive to resident and family inquiries and input?
  • What is done in medical emergencies and what emergency care is available?
  • What are the credentials and background of the management and direct care staff?  What are the staffing levels during the day?

What is your overall impression of the management staff, care staff, residents and the living environment?

Mainly, trust your instincts when looking for a senior living community.  Be sure to explore your options and leave no question unasked or unanswered.  Don’t be afraid to look around and ask questions.  This is going to be the home of someone very special and their safety, sense of well being and care is very important.  Does the community feel like a place you can call home? 

Avera Sacred Heart Majestic Bluffs is a faith-based senior living community located on the bluffs of the Missouri River.  We offer residents a continuum of care for changing needs and are dedicated to promoting each resident’s independence, individuality, personal dignity and privacy.  We are proud of the high quality home-like atmosphere where community and friendships grow. We invite you to stop by anytime and tour our beautiful senior living community where we are adding life to years.