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The Journey to Senior Living: A Step- by-Step Guide for Seniors and Families

The Journey to Senior Living A Step- by-Step Guide for Seniors and Families

Are you or a loved one thinking that senior living may be right for you? These days, moving into senior living isn’t the stigma it used to be. Instead, senior living is filled with vibrant opportunities, numerous choices and lifestyles that have younger folks wishing they could move in right now. However, narrowing down the options and taking the steps can be overwhelming, especially at the very beginning.


“As with any big life decision, starting out on the journey can be daunting, but it’s important to remember that you just need to begin with a single step,” says Charles Benjamin, Executive Director of Harrogate, a premier active senior living community just minutes from Toms River and the Monmouth/Ocean county beaches. “We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help seniors and their family members understand the process while taking some of the uncertainty away.”


Charles says that it may help to think about senior living like choosing a college, or picking a new house. “A lot of the principles are the same,” he says. “Just remember to do your research, consider your options and make a decision that feels good to you. And of course, remember to have fun. This can be a very exciting time for you.”


Step 1: Decide if it’s time for senior living.

The first step in the process is deciding whether the time is right to move to senior living. While there is no right or wrong answer, here are some questions to ask yourself or your loved one in order to help make that decision.

  • Are you able to do all the things you want to do with no or minimal help?
  • Can you handle personal care tasks on your own, or is it becoming too difficult?
  • Are you able to manage your medications correctly?
  • Are you remaining social and active, or have you become more isolated?
  • Are you tired of dealing with all the chores and tasks that come with owning a house?
  • Are you feeling increasingly lonely or bored?
  • Are you having accidents at home, such as falling or other issues?
  • Do you have hobbies and activities that you enjoy, and are you able to engage with them?


Depending on the answers to those questions, you may decide that senior living is right for you or your loved one.


Step 2: Do your research.

Depending on where you live, you may have a large number of communities to choose from. This can be good or bad, depending on your ability to narrow down exactly what you want. That’s why it’s important to do your homework and understand exactly what you’re looking for so that you can find a community that meets and exceeds everything you want and need.


A great place to start is with a simple Google search to get basic information of what’s available to you. From there, look around and read online reviews and ask others about their experiences. Here are some other things to do during your research phase of the journey:

  • Decide on the care level you will need, whether that’s independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care. Many communities have a variety of different care levels on the same campus.
  • Figure out the price point that works for you. Depending on your finances and benefits coming your way, you may decide that one location will work better for you than another.
  • Come up with a list of the top four or five choices. It does no good to set up tours with many different communities. Having fewer choices can make the decision easier – and, of course, if you don’t like any of the ones you see at first, you can always expand your search.


Step 3: Tour your choices.

The next step in the process is to contact the communities on your list and set up tours. Even though you can get a lot of information online, there’s no substitute for actually going into the community and experiencing the atmosphere, looking at the rooms, tasting the food and interacting with staff and residents. As you know from buying a house, a place that looks great in pictures may have a lot of issues that you won’t see until you step foot inside. Here are a few ways to help make the most of your tours and get the information you need to make the right choice:

  • Ask questions. It can help to have a standardized list of questions (such as the one you’ll find here) that you can take with you to every community you tour.
  • Consider doing more than one tour at each community that you’re seriously considering. We recommend going back at different times of the day. Another option would be to book a short-term stay at the community to get a real feel for what it’s like.
  • Ask if you can meet several of the residents and spend a good amount of time with them. A good community will have “brand champions” who love the community and will gladly answer all your questions.


Step 4: Select your option.

After you’ve toured all your options, it’s time to make a choice. This can be a long process, and a stressful one. However, if you’ve done your research and listen to your gut, your instincts won’t steer you wrong.


Step 5: Get ready to move.

You’ve made your choice – congratulations! You’ve taken the first step towards your new chapter of life. The article “7 Steps to Finding the Perfect Senior Living Community” lists some points for getting ready to move that you may wish to follow, depending on your circumstances:

  • Meet with an Elder Law Attorney to prepare the appropriate documents. These are attorneys that specialize in the legal requirements of aging and/or the preparation of documents useful for end-of-life care.
  • Sell or leverage your home. If there is currently home or property ownership, that equity can be used to help with care expenses.
  • Get help with the move. While you can definitely downsize, declutter and get rid of items yourself, you may wish to consider hiring a professional team that specializes in moving seniors from a home into a community.
  • Apply for and receive Veteran’s benefits. If you or your loved one served in the military, or if you, or they, were married to someone who did, speak to a Veteran’s benefit consultant to see what financial programs you may be eligible for.


Step 6: Enjoy your new home.

You’ve done your research, planned your move and finally you’ve done it – you’ve moved into your new senior living community. Take a deep breath, because now it’s time to do the best thing of all … make the new community your new home. Many senior living communities will have orientation for new members to help them get acquainted with all the services and amenities available for them. You may also wish to ask staff members if they can connect you with other residents whom you might enjoy meeting. Remember, everyone at the community was new once, too. Sooner than you think, you’ll start thinking of senior living not just as “the community,” but as “home.”


5-Star Skilled Nursing Care in Lakewood, New Jersey


As a Life Care Community, Harrogate provides residents with access to long-term and short-term health care services on our campus – meaning our residents never have to leave their home to receive the care they require. Our Health Center offers both private and semi-private suites, as well as comfortable common spaces where residents can mingle with one another as well as staff. Personalized care plans are developed in tandem with residents’ needs and preferences.


“Our community has a reputation for delivering high-quality skilled nursing care in a homelike environment,” says Charles. “Our team of specialists is trained to handle every aspect of skilled nursing, from comprehensive wound care to individualized programs for specific health needs. We’re among a select few retirement communities in Ocean County, New Jersey, to earn a 5-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”

This Is What “Worry Less, Live More” Looks Like

Located near Toms River, New Jersey, Harrogate offers a worry-free, fulfilling and experience-rich life. Here, you’ll be free of the hassles of homeownership while having access to all of the best that life has to offer. From opportunities to engage, enrich and challenge yourself to the peace of mind of future care, socialization and so much more.

No matter what your needs may be, we can meet them, ensuring you are worry-free for years to come. With our Life Care, you can enjoy independent living, home health care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation for one entrance fee and a monthly fee that covers everything our lifestyle has to offer.

Worry Less and Live More at Harrogate!

Call for information at ​866-606-0178 or visit our website.