Deciding On The Move

by Rebecca White

It’s difficult to watch a loved one’s ability to care for themselves independently decline, but as we age, needs change.  How do you decide if it’s time to make a move?

What is Assisted Living and how does it differ from Skilled Nursing Care?

Assisted living provides personal care support services such as meals, medication management, and help with bathing, dressing and transportation in a safe and social environment that fosters and encourages independence and an active lifestyle of arts, entertainment and spiritual activities. Skilled nursing care is a step up in care, in which additional care is provided by medical professionals, nurses and therapists.


What are some signs my loved one may need Assisted Living?

You may notice that your loved one is not as well-groomed as usual, or that their personal hygiene is not as it once was.  They may not be taking medications properly, or may have a change in their medical condition, or a condition may be worsening and require more monitoring or more medical appointments.  You may notice a loved one being more forgetful, not eating a well-balanced diet, or unable to take care of their home or their finances as well as they once used to. Just recognizing that a loved one has a need for assistance is the most difficult step.


Where do I start?

Knowing your loved one’s financial situation is key. Assisted Living is paid for privately, with personal funds, coverage from a Long-Term Care insurance plan, and/or with assistance from the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Pension.  Analyze your loved one’s financial health, their monthly income, their income sources, as well as investments and other assets in order to know what your loved one can afford.


Where should I look for an Assisted Living community?

Most people want to live near their home, or near a close family member.  Look for communities that help your loved one stay close to their home, social network, or other close family members.  There are several web-based  referral sources, such as or, that allow you to search by preferred state, city or zip code.  Ask your loved one’s friends, personal physician, or other members of the healthcare community if they have firsthand experience with or can recommend an Assisted Living community.


What should I look for in an Assisted Living community?

All Assisted Living communities are licensed by the state in which they operate.  Research the communities you’re interested in online. Call for more information.  Schedule a tour.  When you tour a community, use all of your senses to take in the surroundings.  Is the community appealing to the eye, clean, uncluttered, decorated in a style that will be comfortable for your loved one?  Does the community smell clean and fresh?  What sounds do you hear?  Are there any loud noises, staff or residents with loud voices, or alarms going off?  Are you able to arrange for a tour that includes lunch or dinner?  Food is such an integral part of our daily lives that you’ll want to be sure the community serves healthy meals that appeal to your loved one.  Where is the community located?  Is the setting serene?


Considering all of these factors, then ranking your options will help you to make your final choice.


Rebecca White is Executive Director at Ivy Gables.  Ivy Gables is located at 2210 Swiss Lane, Wilmington, DE 19810.  If you have more questions, would like more information or would like to schedule a tour, call 302-475-9400 or visit


Share your thoughts