Making decisions regarding the living situation for our elderly family members can be daunting. We want to know that the choices we’re making are going to help cultivate years of health, happiness, and wellbeing. We want the best care available that is also affordable given our financial situation and our relatives’ savings. It turns out that there’s actually a lot of research surrounding factors that make the golden years truly golden. The following will explore some of the vital qualities you want to look for when choosing a senior home to help ensure that your loved one lives a long and healthy life full of friends and rewarding experiences.
Before you look into any of the desirable features you want the senior home to have, you need to first examine the health requirements your loved one has. Depending on their health status, they might need specific features that narrow down your search a fair bit. Do they need help with daily activities? Do they need a certain kind of medical specialist available? Proximity to a particular hospital? Making sure your loved one’s health needs are met is always going to be the first step.
Involve Your Loved One in the Decision Making
This point should go without saying, but far too often, it doesn’t. The elderly relative in question should be an active participant in the decision-making process. Ask their perspective on every aspect involved in the choice. They might have friends they want to keep in touch with; they might have heard things that draw them towards one home or another. Maybe they’ve always wanted to learn piano, and one site offers lessons.
Keep the Rest of the Family Involved Too
This one should also go without saying, but it doesn’t always. If you have siblings or cousins, make sure to include them in the discussion. They might want a location where they can visit within a day’s drive. They might know someone who highly recommends another home. In an ideal situation, everyone would have access, but this isn’t always the case. If you’re moving a family member out of reach of another family member, this is something you need to discuss as a group.
Consider Rating Systems
If you want the best possible experience, you might want to look into locations that are highly rated. Just like hotels, retirement homes can also be given a rating out of five stars. A facility with a five-star rating like Arcare will be on the more luxurious side—with special attention paid to the aesthetic layout and experience of living. In contrast, a facility with a one-star rating might not be as comfortable or enjoyable to look at.
Community Is Where It’s At
Study after study has found that community—meaning friendship and companionship—is one of the most important factors in a long and healthy life. It turns out that feelings of loneliness can shorten your life expectancy by eight years. Loneliness is worse for you than smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. What does this mean in practice? You’re looking for a location that contains a lot of like-minded people to your loved one. Ideally, you’re looking for a community of people with similar interests, cultural values, and religious convictions (yes, attending religious services four times per month increases your life expectancy). Homes with a wide variety of activities leave space open for meeting new people. Beyond this, you want to ensure that your loved one feels interested in the culture of the environment they’re going to live in. If they’ve lived their whole life on the east coast, it might be hard for them to switch over to a west coast culture and make friends there.
Many locations offer physical activity like mild sports, swimming, or gym rooms that can help keep seniors active. We know that something as simple as taking a walk can do wonders for our overall health. Environments, where the activity is encouraged, can help give our loved ones that little boost they need to get up and get moving. Many locations also have physical activities like gardening that are much less aggressive than traditional sports but still have health benefits.
Food is also a crucial part of staying healthy and happy. When visiting potential homes, why not sit down and have lunch? Take a look at the menu and see what interests your loved one and try out the food. We know that diets with fewer grains, less red meat and more vegetables tend to produce better results, but there are thousands of possibilities within those parameters. You might also want to see what options the location has when it comes to alcohol. Does your loved one like a glass of wine in the evening? A beer while watching the game? Consider all food and drink needs.
Accessible to Grandchildren
This is one of the biggest points to keep in mind. Having even small opportunities for caregiving with grandchildren or great-grandchildren can have extremely positive results on overall health and life expectancy. Some retirement homes have even begun including daycares within their facility, resulting in stellar child development (as kids get a ton of one on one attention) and happier and healthier elderly folk.
Climate and Terrain
This one will come down completely to personal preference. Take a moment to research the average temperatures and precipitation where you’re considering moving your loved one. How many sunny days are there each year? Is it close to a body of water like a river, lake, or ocean? What type of trees grows nearby? Studies have shown that time out of doors is fantastic for our mental and emotional wellbeing. If you’re able, find a location with a climate that agrees with your loved one. This will encourage them to get out and breathe fresh air more often.
The above qualities should help you narrow down the choices of a retirement home. It’s okay to take your time and ask lots of questions. And, of course, at the end of the day, your loved one’s opinion is what matters most on the topic.
Photo by Cristina Serí on Unsplash
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