Guide to Retirement

 Guide to Retirement

How to pick the right senior community.

Mike Boyer

But how do you know what facility is right for you or your loved one?

Jennifer Gibbs, director of marketing for St. Leonard Franciscan Living Community in Centerville, says a good place to start is to take an inventory of what type of care, amenities and services you want.

“Look at what services you will need,” she says. “We provide a continuum of care that has everything you need through the stages of your life. Starting with independent living cottages, or homes, through apartments, assisted living apartments, assisted living memory care or skilled nursing care.”

Take an inventory of what is important to you and what you want out of a retirement community and see if the facility has those things, she says.

“Definitely look at how active the community is,” say Gibbs. “What are the amenities they provide? Is transportation included? What type of outings do they provide? Do they have a wellness center, a pool or a restaurant on site?”

“Make sure the facility takes the insurance you have to pay for it whether it’s Medicare, Medicaid or private long-term care insurance,” says Dayton elder lawyer Jesse B. Beasley. There are differences between assisted living facilities, where care is available if you need it, and nursing facilities, for those who couldn’t live on their own, he says.

Medicaid differs from state to state. In Ohio, Beasley says, Medicaid will only cover nursing care in a nursing facility. “If you went into an assisted living facility you’d have no coverage (under Medicaid) even if you ran out of money.”

There is an assisted living waiver under Medicaid in Ohio, “”but it is a trial program with a lot of ‘ifs, ands or buts,’” he says.

You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive so why wouldn’t you do the same for a retirement community?

Consider taking a retirement community for a “test drive,” spending a week or so in the facility you’re considering to see what it’s like. 

St. Leonard offers opportunities for seniors to come in and stay to see if is a good fit, says Gibbs. That includes specials for its independent living units “where they can come in for a week and try it out,” she says. For its assisted living units it offers a daily rate for up to 90 days as respite care for regular caregivers.

“I always tell people if they’re going to visit a skilled nursing center or rehabilitation facility go during the off times,” she says. “Walk through and see how it runs when the normal shift isn’t there. Knowing that facilities are open 24/7 you can stop in any time. Don’t feel you have to make an appointment.”

Finally, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offers a rating system based on staffing, quality measures and health inspections for all 15,000 plus Medicare- and Medicaid-participating nursing homes at

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