Residence for Seniors or a Nursing Home? Tips

Those who move into a comfortable residence for seniors and enjoy life do it relatively early in their lives, whereas those moving into a nursing home put it off as long as possible. One way or another: you need to deal with this issue as early as possible. Those in the know benefit!

Jürg Zulliger

Anyone researching the terms "nursing home" or "senior citizen’s residence" on the Internet quickly realizes that some retirement homes can certainly be perceived as a residence but that not everything that is called a residence deserves the term. It is worth checking out the differences and similarities at an early stage and to compare them against each other.

Residence for Seniors or a Nursing Home? Tips
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Different Models of Living

Nursing homes or seniors’ residences are not the only choice. More and more people are talking about sharing living quarters—apartments and homes—or they are looking into service living. Get the information you need well ahead of time. Think about what you need to feel comfortable and check out the various forms of living situations that are possible. You might come up with a completely new and unexpected solution for yourself.

Recognize your own standards and create a checklist

Seniors considering what they want in their living arrangement once they retire need to know the facts and deal with their needs. This includes much more than just health and financial options. For example: What do you expect from your living arrangement in your old age? City or country? Do you want to bring your own furniture and possibly even pets? And would a simple room be enough or would you rather have a comfortable apartment? Filling out a checklist can help you understand your expectations.

Residence for seniors or a nursing home: Some things are different than they first seem

Whether you opt for a residence for seniors or a nursing home: Break free from these concepts and find out what's available in the region you want. First, of course, your choice depends on your available budget. On the other hand, it is also a question of personal standards. Last but not least, you might not be able to find a spot in a nursing home or in a residence for seniors when and where you would like. It pays to sign up early to secure a spot in a nursing home. You can postpone starting to live there at any time. But all of a sudden when it's urgent and you need it, those who have been signed up longer will be taken first. The best solution is to find out what kinds of living arrangements are available in your area. There are search engines that deal with this topic in great detail, as well as free consultations. These free consultations can inform you of the types of home health services you can get in your own home if you want to stay there as long as possible.

“Local rates” for senior living

If you intend to enter a retirement or nursing home at an older age, you should make sure that it is on the cantonal nursing home list. Because they are the only ones that the health insurance will pay the flat rates for. Make sure you compare the services and prices of several retirement homes, because these vary greatly. The infrastructure varies, too. There are senior living facilities with and without independent senior-living apartments and there are those that do or do not include nursing services. In some facilities, you can stay if you have dementia, but not in others. Also restaurant/cafeteria and hairdresser services are not available in every facility. And last but not least, not all senior-living facilities are equally active when it comes to excursions, music afternoons, gymnastics, yoga and language lessons, etc. Tip: Many senior-living facilities offer seniors from their own community (from their own canton) better rates than those who are not canton residents. Find out.

Senior-living facilities:Tips: Price and quality vary greatly

Senior-living facilities can be compared to hotels. They usually offer a high standard of living, are individual, comfortable to luxurious and are priced accordingly. The price differences , however, vary greatly. In addition, their infrastructures vary a great deal as well (with/without nursing care staff, facility welcomes dementia patients, yes/no, etc.). But they generally focus on personal wishes and concerns and offers many services. Tip for those who do not mind leaving their familiar environment and are looking for a milder climate: Retirement homes in Ticino are more affordable than comparable ones in German-speaking Switzerland. In addition, Locarno, for example, boasts a huge number of German-speaking Swiss and locals who speak German.

Which is how you get costs under control

No matter whether you opt for a nursing home or a residence for seniors: You will need to decide between a base tax for engaging hotel-type services and care or living on  the cantonal fixed care allowance. You have to pay the basic tax yourself. The  canton and health insurance, however, pay the major portion of the nursing care allowance, provided the home or the cantonal nursing home department for a particular senior-living residence is on the cantonal senior living list. It is not always easy to interpret tariffs correctly. Therefore, we recommend discussing these issues with a specialist. This will also help you find out whether you are entitled to supplementary benefits. By the way, in an emergency, you are entitled to a place in a public nursing home, even if you cannot pay all the home costs yourself. Listed here is the social welfare office for the municipality, along with the right contact.

Compare, visit, test!

As you know, you can’t go into this type of living situation blind. That's why you should not rely on glossy brochures or the way the facility looks on the Internet. Visit the institutions that are suitable for you, talk to the residents and maybe even test out the facility by staying a few days.

Residence for Seniors or a Nursing Home? Tips
At residences like the Gustav Zürich, you won’t even realize at second glance that you are addressing seniors.. Image ©