4 Critical Areas to Review When Choosing a Senior Housing Community by Guest Blogger Jill M. Kolczynski, a Senior Housing Navigator

Most often, clients come to us when their search for Assisted Living or Memory Care has hit a bump in the road.  Due to medical and non-medical care needed and the range of costs that can change over time, it can be a complex system to navigate.  Below are a few things to consider.

Medical Care Available

The type of health care providers that are on-site and that visit can vary from community to community.  It is important to consider what is needed both now and what may be anticipated in the future before choosing a home.  As an example, the needs of someone with diabetes may change over time.  Some places will only accept individuals who can take medication or administer insulin shots on their own with reminders.  Other places are able to administer the shots if there comes a time where it can no longer be done.  They may also have a need for a podiatrist and someone specializing in wound care.  Choosing a place where the services are a better match may make it easier to receive care over time instead of always having to leave to see those specialists.

There are several key areas where medical services can differ significantly from community to community and it is important to know what they offer and what their limits are based on individual needs.

Non-Medical Care Available

Non-medical care includes assistance with activities of daily living like taking a bath, getting dressed, cooking, cleaning, maintaining the home.  Staffing levels can vary greatly from community to community and it is important to check this.  It is also important to know what types of things they can’t provide and what will require movement to another area of the community or out of the community.  One example of this is transfer assistance- when people need help either getting from sitting to standing or to move from sitting on one item to another.  In some communities, they require that the residents are pretty independent and able to transfer on their own and walk or use a wheelchair to get where they are going on their own.  If at some point they need help with this, they may need to move out or move to another area of the community.   Other places will assist with a transfer as long as it only requires only one staff member.  A very limited number will assist if it requires two people or a lift for transfer.

Each community has a unique offering of non-medical care.  It is critical to know both what is included but also what isn’t included and may require a move down the road.

Social Activities

As people age, their ability to participate in social activities and their interests change.  If searching for a family member, it is important to consider what they may want to do currently and what is available down the road rather than relying on what they may have done in the past.  With Alzheimer’s this can be particularly important.  For example, some older adults want a place that allows them to practice their faith.  For example, someone in their younger years may have loved participating in bible studies but today this is no longer possible because they can’t follow and participate in the discussion and materials due to the cognitive decline.  However, a community that has a pastor led prayer group or one that has a mass with singing of the older church hymns may be of interest.

Participation levels in the different activities in a community can vary.  The make-up of the residents in the community can also vary.  It is important to consider both and see whether or not it is a good fit.


Trying to figure out how much it is going to cost to live in a particular community and how much money is going to be needed to provide care can often be the biggest hurdle for a family.  There are a lot of unknowns in the process.  Things that need to be considered:

  • Potential length of stay
  • Budget after the move- what is included / not included
  • Budget down the road as care needs change
  • Additional resources that may be available to assist in paying for care
  • How long financial resources will last
  • Options if / when resources run out

For more information on Senior Housing including Assisted Living, Independent Living or Memory Care (Alzheimer’s or Dementia) Communities, seek out a Senior Housing Navigator.

Jill M. Kolczynski is a Senior Housing Navigator in Northeast Ohio with 17 years experience in the medical industry assisting seniors and those with disabilities navigate the complex world of medical equipment and senior housing.  She can be reached at jkolczynski@mynewvilla.com or 440-320-7280.  For more guidance on senior housing visit her blog at https://www.mynewvilla.com/blog/ or like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mynewvilla/

A Place for Mom is another resource for senior housing assistance. Visit http://www.aplaceformom.com/cleveland-senior-living-resources for more information.

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