Determining the differences between assisted living, personal care, and skilled care can be cumbersome to people who don’t work in the industry. Connor Joffe, executive director at The Grand, says doing background research on the types of care in Kentucky is imperative. “Unfortunately, sometimes some buildings will accept a resident who is borderline between levels of care or the whole picture hasn’t been presented,” he says, which means senior residents may move into a community that doesn’t offer them what they need, requiring families to hire additional caregivers or worse, having to move the resident repeatedly.
Families need to be very clear when communicating what their loved one can and can’t do and what his or her needs are prior to an assessment, which communities do before placing a new resident. It is also critical for families to ask lots of questions, including asking whether the professionals think their loved one is borderline. “The more questions you ask, the better,” Connor says.
Hope Janssen, sales director at Masonic Homes of Kentucky, says a view to the future and what could be down the road are important for individuals or families to consider when shopping for a community. Just as important, though, is looking at the health situation now, especially for a married couple. “If you have a husband and wife couple, it is extremely normal for one of them to be in physically better shape or for one of them to need more mental/cognitive support. This has become something that is extremely common,” Hope says. Some communities are adding different levels of care and adapting what they offer to seniors because so many couples have varied needs but want to be close to each other.
She says there are plenty of other issues to consider, including the history of the community and its reputation, the cost versus the value, and the size of the community. The exterior amenities of the senior community, which became so critical during COVID, should also be considered. While the design and decor of a community garners attention, the exterior is important, too. Seniors who love to walk or garden may not be happy with a community that doesn’t have much outdoor space. Seniors who have lived in Kentucky their entire lives with its four distinct seasons might consider moving closer to children but may not love long winters or neverending summers.
Patricia McTigue, a resident at The Grand of Prospect, used her past experience living in a senior community in Hilton Head, South Carolina to guide her when she was looking for a new home. Her husband, Tom, had passed away in 2019, and she wanted to be closer to her siblings and children. Not only was Louisville a good central location, it had once been home; Patricia and Tom had raised their children in St. Matthews many years ago. Patricia says she had visited four senior living communities and was hoping to come back to Louisville to visit more when COVID hit.
While waiting to see how things would shake out with the pandemic before booking another flight, “[My sister] called me and said, ‘There’s another place you have to see,’” Patricia says. “She said, ‘This is where you must move; forget about anything else you’ve seen.’” Patricia knew she wanted a deck and to be on the third floor. From the videos and pictures that independent living sales and marketing director Ann Clark sent, Patricia knew she liked what she saw. She loved the size of the one-bedroom apartment, and she trusted her sister’s opinion.
Moving into any new space is an adjustment even if it is perfect for you. A new community involves meeting new people and making friends and getting acclimated to new routines. Whether you are 6, 36, or 76, it takes time for a new place to feel like home even if you know you made the best decision for your needs and wants.
By Carrie Vittitoe | Photos by Melissa Donald