An elderly woman smiling with a nurse.

Planning for your future: considerations for senior living options

By Greg Anderson

It’s no surprise that Florida is home to the second largest elderly population percentage. And as projected, the most recent U.S. Census in 2020 shows the older population increased significantly over the years, with 1 in 6 people in the U.S. now over age 65. Largely driven by aging baby boomers, the spike in the number of older adults also equates to a jump in the number of seniors exploring their lifestyle and care options.

While some adults choose to age at home, others desire the security of a senior living community with the added benefits of socialization and activities they enjoy. For those looking for the resources and amenities that a senior living community has to offer, such as maintenance-free living, events and activities, support for daily living or 24/7 health care services, there are several factors to consider when searching for a community.

First, learn about the different levels of care offered in a continuing care retirement community, commonly referred to as a CCRC, which offers a range of living options, usually on the same campus. Independent living, designed for seniors who do not currently require health services, allows seniors to remain independent while enjoying freedom from home maintenance and daily chores, and provides social engagement and community involvement. Independent living in a CCRC comes with the peace of mind that if more care is required due to changes in health, a senior can easily transfer to another level of care. Assisted living is for seniors who need help with daily activities, such as dressing or bathing, but also grants them some independence, a full schedule of activities and lifestyle amenities. In memory care, a safe and controlled environment for seniors with memory diseases, seniors are provided with specialized assisted living care. Skilled nursing is often best for seniors who require extensive assistance due to chronic illnesses, or short-term rehabilitation following a procedure or illness.

When researching the right options for you or your loved one, consider these tips from Gulf Coast Village:

First, consult with senior care experts or physicians to determine the level of care you need. If you are independent, you might qualify for the CCRC life care contract or independent living. If you require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing or bathing, you may need to look at assisted living options. After determining your needs, consider the following:

  • Assess activities around the senior community, like shopping centers, restaurants, airports and beaches, especially if you expect to have visitors or spend a day outside of the community.
  • Inquire about the staff-to-resident ratio in the community if you are seeking assisted living or memory support. If you require more specialized care and want a closer relationship with the staff, a small community may be the better option. If you’re a social butterfly, check out a larger community with more residents and activities.
  • Consider a CCRC. CCRCs provide seniors with access to the full continuum of health care, starting with independent living and covering all the bases of senior care, including assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing, all on one campus. Rather than moving to an entirely different community if their care needs change, seniors can remain in the same community where they have built relationships and have social support already established.
  • Ask what the communities offer for services, such as housekeeping or laundry services.
  • Consider opportunities for socialization. If fitness is important to you, search for communities that offer physical therapy services and weekly exercise classes. If you value creativity, ask your list of communities if they offer any art classes or if they have a craft room. Common activities within senior communities include church services, movie nights, concerts, shopping trips, dinner socials and bingo.
  • Inquire about amenities, such as pools, walking trails, or hair and nail salons. Another coveted amenity in senior living communities is a high-quality dining program due to its opportunity for socialization and guaranteed great meals.

Ultimately, deciding on a senior living community is a personal choice. With your preferences, needs and a list of considerations in mind, begin your journey to finding the best senior community for you.