A simplified approach to senior living decisions
Revel Communities’ senior living expert discusses her approach to helping families through an emotional process
Deciding whether or not to move to a senior living community is said to be one of the most difficult decisions a person will make, whether for themselves or a loved one. Many people choose a reactionary approach instead of a proactive, educated approach.
Rather than focus on end-of-life care, Catherine Owens, a senior living author and the regional sales specialist for Revel Communities, believes the goal should be to live your fullest and best life right now.
“We believe there are still opportunities to be had and memories to be made, and opportunities to continue to contribute and engage,” Owens said of Revel Communities’ approach to senior living. “The biggest difference with Revel from traditional independent living communities is that we are a growth model, not a care model. We meet with our residents to find out what’s important to them.”
Whether you’re considering a senior living community for yourself or a loved one, there’s some basic, but essential information to learn about this common decision-making process.
Owens’ book, “Be Your Own Hero: Senior Living Decisions Simplified,” tackles the challenges that so many seniors and their families face when making decisions about moving to a senior living community. Too often, people wait until they’re in an urgent situation before they seek out this information.
“If you’re facing a crisis, you’re probably not going to take the time to read through all of the books and research out there,” Owens said.
After working with hundreds of families facing this decision over the years, Owens realized there wasn’t a quick and easy resource that not only answered important questions, but also addressed the emotions involved. She also wanted to write a book that provided a helpful overview of the process without overwhelming people.
“It’s quick and easy to understand and covers the topics relevant to the decision-making process,” Owens said. “It’s a 90-minute read.”
The book walks readers through typical misconceptions about making these decisions and provides solutions and tools to get through each scenario.
Be the expert about your own wants and needs
Rather than waiting for an emergency, crisis or diagnosis of some kind, think about what’s important to you to determine the best path forward.
“I tell people they’re the expert on themselves,” Owens said. “If you’ve been doing something a certain way for 80 years, then you know what’s important to you. When you walk into a senior living community, you can see if that philosophy and approach will support you to continue living your best life.
“Everything we have in place at Revel communities promotes independence, individual experiences and opportunities. Instead of focusing on aging in place, we focus on putting in place what people need to age well.”
The emotional side
While every situation is different, nearly every person who has to make a decision about senior living experiences similar emotions. There’s a stigma associated with senior living that also leads to common fears.
“It’s normal for a spouse or family to feel guilty if they can’t take care of someone themselves,” Owens said. “It’s an emotional decision process.”
Adult children typically see things that aren’t working long before the parent does, whether it’s an unkempt home, difficulties performing daily tasks, memory issues or otherwise. They might want to have the discussion about senior living options but don’t know how to approach the subject with their parents.
“It’s an act of love when you help someone get the support in place they need,” Owens said.
What if you could be steps ahead by moving into a senior community long before you think you need to, and before the decision becomes so emotional?
“Often, there’s a fear of losing control in decision-making. I tell people to shift the paradigm and make the decision when they’re still able to do so,” Owens said.
How to choose a senior living community
Owens also provides tips for what to look out for when touring a senior living community. She helps readers understand the right questions to ask.
“Most communities have transportation, meals and housekeeping, but what constitutes great service?” she said. “I walk people through the various levels of care, the difference between independent living and assisted living, and pricing.”
While some people might seek out the cheapest option, Owens provides advice for identifying the real value of a community even when it might cost more.
“There’s a reason we buy cars with a better safety rating, or homes in certain neighborhoods,” she said. “This is a place you’re going to live in every day — the differences in how a community provides various amenities, and the quality and flexibility of those, will be the things that help contribute to your daily satisfaction.”
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