Moving to an assisted living or memory support community is a significant life decision where many factors come into play such as location, price, staff, levels of care, programs and activities. And whether you’re choosing for yourself or a loved one, the process can be daunting.
When families visit The Cabana at Jensen Dunes to see if our community is right for them, we encourage them to compare us to other communities. Often you can see differences in value when you look at communities side by side.
Then we stress the importance of value: What services and benefits are they getting for their dollar? Many communities offer all-inclusive amenities but vary widely in the quality and scope of these services.
Here, we’ll help you understand how to measure a community’s value, including critical areas you should assess.
Value & Its Impact on Residents & Families
The value that a community offers is multi-faceted. Often the aspects that families desire most – such as friendly staff or peace of mind – are the most difficult to evaluate. Yet, it’s just as important to have the critical services that your loved one requires, such as dining or daily assistance.
Let’s take a look at different value types so you can get a complete vision of the advantages of community living and how to compare your options.
The tangible value of assisted living or memory support includes all the services that directly support your loved one’s experience.
For residents, this includes amenities such as dining options, a fitness center, community Wi-Fi and 24/7 health monitoring. It also involves the physical spaces of the community, such as the residents’ apartment floor plans, common areas and outdoor spaces.
For families, communities often take care of aspects that families previously had to handle, such as daily assistance with self-care, medication management and property taxes. In addition, the best communities will offer resources specifically for families, such as educational seminars and family support groups.
The intangible or emotional value is how a community makes you and your loved one feel, such as security or peace of mind.
For residents, individuals who join a community may feel that their dignity is restored through assistance with daily tasks. They may also feel newfound independence to explore their retirement years, engage in lifelong learning and make meaningful connections with new neighbors. Intangible aspects such as staff friendliness and a sense of security can also play a key role in resident well-being.
For families, families also benefit from the intangible value of communities, mainly the peace of mind that their loved one is well-cared for. Many may also feel the security that the community is monitored 24/7 and relief that they can set aside certain responsibilities. Most importantly, they may feel joy in regaining their role as a son or daughter – instead of feeling burdened by caregiving.
Tips for Assessing the Value of a Community
As you measure value, you’ll want to get an in-depth understanding of the community, its tangible and intangible value, and how it positively impacts residents. Here are some steps to find out the value, especially for intangible benefits that can be trickier to assess.
1. Do your homework & legwork.
Your loved one should enjoy living in the community you’re paying for. To see the value of the daily residential experience, you should pay visits in person. Carefully observe the activity level. Are people up and around? Enjoying each other’s company? Or are they in their rooms just watching television? Make sure the community offers stimulating programs that keep residents engaged and involved. Even more important: Are they having fun?
2. Gauge the “atmospherics.”
The look and feel of the community speak volumes about its intangible value. The spaces should be designed to promote key values such as independence, connections and holistic well-being.
We’re always proud to show off The Cabana because it’s innovative from a structural and design perspective. We have a pool and outdoor grill, cocktail bar and fitness center. We have high ceilings and lots of natural light. Every aspect of our design is intended to boost the value of residents’ daily experience and sense of community.
3. Share a meal.
Mealtime is a good check on whether the community caters to individual preferences and promotes social connections at every opportunity. During your visit, dine at the community to see its value firsthand.
Make sure the meals are well balanced, taste good and are attractively presented. Ask about dining hours. Are they fixed or flexible? According to Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, make sure the community is responding to individual residents’ needs – not forcing them into a fixed routine. Along those lines, at The Cabana, we have an “open dining room” concept where our residents can eat whatever meal they choose.
4. Assess the “personality” of the community.
Connection is a cornerstone value for many communities. Your loved one should feel comfortable and safe – not like a stranger in their own home. What “vibe” do you get when you tour the community? Friendly, warm, comfortable and welcoming? Or formal, stuffy and “institutional”? Are staff members and staff smiling? Is there a “sense of belonging?” Is it happy?
5. Talk to family members.
Other families can give you an insider’s opinion about the value of the community. After an in-person visit, follow up by talking with current residents about their experiences. It’s comforting to hear from folks who have “been there.” It helps to know you’re not alone and that others share your journey.
Comparing the Value of a Community vs. Aging-in-Place
Though most older adults want to age-in-place, often living at home doesn’t support a high quality of living. At home, individuals may feel lonely and disconnected from their social circles. It’s also more difficult to find opportunities to pursue wellness goals and access favorite activities or hobbies.
The emotional burden of aging-in-place can also be quite significant on caregivers who may be struggling to meet their loved one’s needs on a daily basis. It’s common for family members to feel guilty that they can’t provide more, whether more one-on-one time, engaging activities, nutritious meals, etc.
In addition to these intangible costs, living at home may also incur higher financial costs. While a monthly mortgage may be more affordable, you have to factor in all other bills such as:
- Property taxes
Once you add up these costs, the final price may be the same or even greater than community living. However, a community like ours gives your loved one so much more value. Our mission is to provide the best possible care, which includes all-included amenities such as health support, dining, social calendars, fitness programming, housekeeping and more.
Make the Right Care Decision Based on Value
Every family should carefully consider the value of assisted living or memory support. By assessing both tangible and intangible aspects, you can make the best possible care decision for your loved one.
Here at The Cabana, we offer an affordable, comprehensive assisted living and memory support community that is anchored in an innovative and holistic, mind-body-spirit approach. Our attitude about aging makes us different and delivers exceptional value to our residents and families.
Get in touch with our team at The Cabana if you need help assessing the value of our community. We’re here to answer any of your questions.