People are living longer. When you think of a senior today, it’s not uncommon to think of an elderly person that is living a fulfilled life. Medicine and health are getting better. Seniors are living active lives and enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Seniors don’t have to be frail and brittle.
However, there may come a time when a senior wants a change of scenery. Perhaps mowing the lawn and shoveling the snow isn’t what a senior wants to do any longer. When a home alert system isn’t enough, assisted living may be a good option when a senior no longer wants to live on their own.
This isn’t an admittance of what you can or can’t do any longer.
Assisted living can help make sure that a senior is able to live out their days without being alone. Seniors will be living together, but they’ll also receive medical care and have meals cooked for them.
Families or individuals tasked with picking an assisted living facility will have a lot of brochures to look through. There’s a lot to consider, but luckily, we’ve done a lot of the hard work for you. There’s no 100% guarantee that a facility is a perfect fit, but there’s a lot that you can do to make sure that the facility meets your standards.
We’ll start with the basics first.
Visit the Location and Start Assessing the Atmosphere
Don’t choose a facility without viewing it first. You need to go to the location and start asking a lot of questions. The questions that you’ll want to ask are:
- Can you talk to residents to see how they like the facility?
- Are you able to tour the facility?
- What are visiting hours?
- Can residents visit at any time?
These are basic questions, but they’ll help you better understand what the facility is offering. When you walk through the doors, do you notice any décor? Do the staff members seem attentive and willing to greet you during the tour?
Walk past residents and see what they’re doing. If possible, ask them how they feel about the facility. Note what the residents are doing and if they’re mingling with one another and seem happy.
Pay close attention to staff members to see how they treat other residents and staff members.
Interactions with residents are very important. Staff members should interact with residents in a professional manner. First-name or professional greetings should be given to residents to show them the respect they deserve.
Assess the Physical Features of the Facility
Seniors need to enter a facility that meets their needs. There are a lot of needs that need to be met, and it’s very easy to overlook your needs. A few of the must-assess features should be:
- Floor plans. Do the plans meet your needs?
- Are the doorways and bathrooms large enough for wheelchairs or other walking aids?
- Are handrails present near stairs and in bathrooms?
- What safety features are included in the bathrooms?
- What is the lighting like in the facility? Poor visibility can lead to falls and injury.
- Walk in to the kitchen. Is it easy to reach the cabinets and cupboards?
- Are basic safety features in place? Fire alarms? Clearly marked exit doors?
Residents that have a tendency to wander should also be protected with an in-facility security guard. You need to make sure that if the senior living in the facility needs a little extra help, they’ll get it at their assisted living facility.
Discuss Pricing and Contractual Obligations
Assisted living can be very expensive, and you need to ensure that the facility is something that is affordable for your situation. You need to have a good understanding of all the paperwork that you’ll be signing.
When viewing the agreement, you’ll want to make note of:
- Healthcare services that will be offered
- Supportive services that will be offered
If a service that’s needed is “included” but it doesn’t get a mention in the contract, have it added in for your own peace of mind. The contract should also have information regarding:
- Admission requirements
- Discharge provisions
- Refund information
- Transfer information
Residents that have unique medical needs should also have a written plan of care that is signed and agreed upon. You need to make sure that the senior entering the facility will have his or her needs met.
Facilities should assess the needs of their residents. This process may or may not include input from the resident’s family. In the optimal situation, the family will provide input on the change of healthcare plans.
Government or other programs may also be available to help pay for the costs of the services for the resident. A facility may be able to help you find ways to cover some of the costs for assisted living.
Review and Consider Services Being Offered
Finally, you’ll need to take a look at the services that are being offered at the assisted living center. We’ve discussed this somewhat, but there are a lot of services and information to cover. When you discuss the facility with staff members and go through your tour, you’ll want to discuss:
- The unscheduled needs of residents. You can’t plan for everything, so when a need must be met, you need to make sure the facility can meet it even if it’s not on schedule.
- Services offered. A complete list of services that are being offered should be provided to the resident and the family.
- Staff member availability needs to be discussed. Residents may need to have access to staff 24 hours a day.
- Activities of daily living offered. The activities that may be needed via 24-hour assistance is shopping, laundry, grooming and bathing. Mobility may also be required for a person that has limited mobility.
- Cleaning services. Will there be a housekeeper that is responsible for cleaning the space? If not, what are the requirements for keeping the space adequately cleaned?
- Transportation services. If a resident must leave the facility to see a family member in the hospital or because of an emergency, will they be able to arrange transportation for the resident? You want to specifically ask about transportation on short notice.
- Physical therapy needs. Will the facility offer physical therapy to residents? Is there an in-house therapist?
- Pharmacy needs must be understood. Some facilities will have an in-house pharmacy that will be responsible for filling and refilling prescriptions.
- Barber needs also need to be met. Residents may be able to have all of their beautician and barber needs met in the facility.
When choosing assisted living, it’s a game of asking as many questions as possible. The key most important thing is ensuring that your loved one is cared for properly. This means that the services they need the most will be provided by the facility.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.