5 Things to Know Before Choosing an Assisted Living Facility
5 things to know before choosing an assisted living facility.
Brought to you by Assisted Living Locator
In 2016 the number of Senior citizens living in the United States surpassed 50 million… That is more than the population of 25 states. By the year 2021 it is expected that people 75 and older will increase by 14.5%. As we face this “we are living longer” reality it is becoming more and more important that we are educated about the options for how to best care for our aging population. These are our partners, parents, grandparents, loved ones and friends. There are increasingly more and more options to disseminate through and it can quickly become overwhelming to the layman. A crucial step in this process is knowing the right questions to ask. Here are a few questions to help you start your journey.
1) Can I see the room my loved one will live in?
I did reference “mom” here. It is true that more and more facilities cater to females as they tend to outlive their male counterparts. When you are touring facilities they will all tend to dazzle you with splendid game rooms, media rooms, gardens and parks; but the reality of assisted living communities is that the resident will spend almost 70% of their time in their own living space. Most of very accommodating that their room is adequately decorated and equipped to make them very comfortable in this space, but this is a critical thing for you to research and know.
It is necessary for you to spend time with your mom in this space. See how the kitchen or kitchenette functions to meet her needs. Check out the bathroom – if she only likes baths, is there a tub? Is the room equipped with WiFi so she can stay connected to her children and grandchildren through social media, FaceTime and email? Is there cable – she will need to be able to watch her favorite shows. How is the lighting? Is there carper? How often are the rooms cleaned? Spending this much time in an unfamiliar setting can be scary, but making sure that all her needs will be able to be met is very important.
2) Can we have a meal?
Every assisted living community will offer unique meal plans and choices. Having meal with your loved one before choosing the facility will shed a lot of light on what meal time will be like for them. Take note of how many staffers are present during meal time. How do they interact with the residents? Is there a dedicated food staff that doesn’t interfere with the care staff of the facility tending to residents needs during meal time? See how the residents are interacting with each other. Is there good conversation and comradery? How is the food? Are they willing to accommodate special dietary restrictions or just references? Spending this time in the dining area will give you a great insight into the culture of the facility. People are most themselves in this environment and that includes both residents and staff.
3) If there is a medical emergency or issue how is this handled?
It is very common that there will be emergencies in a senior living community. This could be a simple accident or a major trauma. How the staff handles this will be very telling and should give you confidence that your loved one will be safe in this environment. If the emergency happens and a staffer simply calls 911 and waits your red flag radar should be going off. 911 is a definite call, but shouldn’t be the only way staff responds. If it is not an emergency the staffer should have built and established relationships with the resident’s doctors and staff. A simple call to their physician can save money, time and peace of mind.
4) How well prepared is the facility for changes in health of your aging resident?
As we get older we experience changes that we can’t always prepare for. Right now, your mom or dad may be functioning at a 10, however, 5 years from now they may have the mental or physical faculties of only a 5. How will the facility handle their changing needs? It is important to understand the levels of care the facility offers before making this decision. Stability for all of us is important, but for your aging loved one even more so. You don’t want your parent or loved one to establish a life in one facility to find out that as their needs change the facility can no longer accommodate them and you will be back at square one. When touring a good mix of ages, conditions, and needs is a good indicator of diversity of care.
5) How is the pricing structured?
Most people only consider the base rent price for the assisted living community, but this is only one of the many factors that contribute to the cost. How have their rates changed over the last few years? Do they charge for level of care packages on top of rent? These costs will not be fixed and can change over the course of time as your loved ones needs change so knowing this structure and range ahead of time will help you plan for not only right now but the future of care. When talking about finances it is always a good idea to talk “worst case scenario” with the prospective facility. Do they offer any sort of financial aid should something happen? Do they accept your insurance as care needs increase? Making sure all of your financial questions are answered will save headaches and moves down the road.
This is inevitably a difficult decision and road to travel down. Hopefully asking these questions, spending time in the prospective communities, and having knowledge of what to expect will help ease the burden. Every one of our aging loved ones is different and unique which means their needs are different and unique. Don’t be afraid to take them on this journey with you. Include them in the tours, let them ask questions, and feel that they are a part of the decision-making process.
Reach out to Leslie Jackson at Assisted Living Locators of Charleston, www.charleston.assistedlivinglocators.com, for any questions you may have or for help with this process. Assisted Living Locators is a FREE referral service. Our professional Eldercare Advisers provide personal assistance in locating the right options for your elderly loved one. An Eldercare Adviser can reduce your stress by providing a free consultation and help you find the right Home Care, Alzheimer’s/Dementia Care, Assisted Living, Nursing Homes and Retirement Communities.