Choosing Senior Housing… Your Formula for Success

It’s important to understand that making a lifestyle change is an investment, both financially and emotionally. As with any investment, you want to do your due diligence. Many other fields of investment use formulas to help guide this research. A real estate investor looks at things like rental income, location, and down payment. A new car buyer has to consider gas mileage, financing terms, warranties, and so on.

And so it is when looking at senior housing options. The tested and proven formula I’m about to provide will help you quickly sort out the options and focus on the issues YOU need to consider when making a decision. Follow the steps below, do the homework before you start looking, and you’ll avoid wasting time and energy or feeling confused and frustrated.

The formula to follow is this:

~~~ Risks & Values + Health + Finances = Your Best Option ~~~

Let’s look at each one individually.

—> Risks & Values: What are you comfortable with? This is what I call the “internal research”… the soul searching, if you will. Though it may be tricky to get started, this can lead to wonderfully rich conversations that are a gift to the entire family.

In my book, Senior Housing 101, I discuss the critical 16 Risk & Value questions. Everything from “How many times do you want to move?” to “Are you concerned about being a burden to children, family or friend?” to “If something happened to your spouse, could you maintain your current lifestyle?” Regardless of how much money a person has, where they live, or their resistance to making a change, these “soul searching” questions are the best place to start.

—> Health: The state of your parents’ health will initially set the direction for your research. Are they capable of living in an independent setting? Do they already require assisted or skilled care? Their health will also play a part in the Risks & Values discussions.

Not only do you need to know if they have any current health challenges or concerns, you should also be projecting 3-5 years down the line. It may even be time to go to the doctor with mom or dad and get an updated professional assessment to help with planning for the future.

All this will help you to determine what level of care they will require—now and in the near future—and will in most cases immediately focus your research. It will also allow for more meaningful and productive discussions with professionals when you are visiting locations.

Here are a few of the most common health issues for older adults that need to be considered:

Signs of early memory loss — Difficulty walking — Declining vision — Osteoporosis or spinal stenosis — Cancer — Parkinson’s disease — Cardiac or pulmonary problems

All of these may seem to be minor issues right now, or under control with medication. But in time they will likely change or decline, presenting greater challenges. It is best to understand and prepare for those possibilities. If your parents are blessed with good health, they may have more options than if significant health issues are already present. This is why the earlier they begin looking, the better off they will be.

—> Finances: I have a golden rule with this… Know Before You Go. What I mean is that you absolutely must know how much money your parents have to work with BEFORE you start looking at specific options.

If you go shopping for a car, you need to know if you can shop at the Ford dealership, the Cadillac dealership or look for a good deal on a second hand vehicle. What you want to avoid is showing your parents options they fall in love with, only to find out afterwards that they are not financially viable.

The information you’ll need will fall into two categories: Assets and Income. With Assets, the number you’re looking for is your parents’ total Net Worth, also referred to as Total Combined Capital Assets. When calculating Income it is important to focus on AVAILABLE income. So when doing your calculations, count ALL income, regardless of whether the person is using it now or letting interest and dividends roll into the principal.

Do your homework and keep this simple formula for success in front of you…

~~~ Risks & Values + Health + Finances = Your Best Option ~~~

You’ll be delighted at how it will guide and simplify your research and decision making process.


About The Author

This article was submitted by Randalynn Kaye, author of Senior Housing 101 and founder of Elder-Transitions. For more information or to contact Randalynn, visit

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