Making the right choice

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What’s the right choice for retirement living?

It’s difficult to pick the best retirement facility for yourself or a loved one. In fact, the decision can be overwhelming. It’s a huge responsibility that carries a lot of emotion.

Whether you’re considering independent living, assisted living, memory care or nursing care, these tips from senior leaders of Via Christi Village in Hays, Pittsburg, Manhattan and Ponca City, Okla., can help in the selection process.

David Karlin, Executive Director
Via Christi Village in Hays

Q: What’s the first thing you look for when you visit a facility? 

A: The nose knows. Cleanliness is important as is attention to detail. What you smell as you go through the building is important. Does it smell clean or dirty? My grandfather lives here and someday my parents might as well, so this is personal to me. I think it is important to visit with the folks who already live here, visit with their family members, visit with staff on the floor. They can give you a better picture of what the facility or ministry is really like. Ultimately, the most important piece of what we do is provide compassionate, professional care.

Melinda Ewan, Executive Director
Via Christi Village in Pittsburg

Q: What are some things to be aware of when selecting skilled nursing?   

A: I would visit at different times of the day to see how the residents appear and gauge interactions between residents and staff. Are the residents treated with dignity and respect? Do they genuinely like the staff? Are staff members friendly? These are important questions. We like to celebrate life here. We like to have residents stay involved in activities they enjoy. The only thing that should change is their address.

Amy Blockcolsky, Executive Director
Via Christi Village in Manhattan

Q: What should someone look for in an independent living apartment or facility? 

A: Look at the small things, the things that most people would take for granted. If staff take care of the small things, they will take care of your loved one as well. Residents should be happy and well adjusted. They should enjoy living in the facility. Is their hair combed? Are they clean and well taken care of? When they ask for help are they getting the help they need? 

Karen McConnell, Executive Director
Via Christi Village in Ponca City, Okla.

Q: When should a memory care facility be considered? 

A: Memory care is usually diagnosis driven, so behavior along the lines of dementia is important when considering a facility. You might notice some confusion with your loved one. Difficulty finding their way around town or caring for themselves are signs. Safety is the highest concern with your loved one. If you feel they aren’t safe, it’s time to look for care.


Before you tour senior communities, it’s a good idea to know your budget as well as some of the services you need and amenities you want.

    Independent living

    A retirement community that is designed to be easier and safer for older adults to navigate, offering transportation services, social networks and a supportive environment.

    Assisted living

    A supportive environment for people who are still able to live somewhat independently. Services are usually intermittent and task-specific, such as helping bathe or taking medications.

    Memory care facility

    Memory care is for those struggling with dementia or who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

    Skilled nursing home 

    The highest level of care for older adults outside the hospital setting. There are two basic types of care — short-term, rehabilitative care and long-term care for chronic conditions.

Visit to learn more about Via Christi’s senior villages and programs in Kansas and Oklahoma.



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