There are 28,900 assisted living facilities in the US. Approximately 2% of seniors live in these facilities.
Taking care of an elderly relative necessitates a full-time commitment of time, effort, and patience. In most situations, this becomes tiring and time-consuming, and families are forced to make a difficult decision: move their dear ones into an assisted living in my area. This is where they can be treated with dignity and given the best home care available.
Sadly, not every assisted living facility meets the expectations of the family. Elders taken to assisted living centers are frequently given less care than they require and are denied vital services that they are entitled to.
As a result, it is critical to devote as much time as possible to researching and screening prospective assisted living facilities in your area. Read this guide for tips on finding the right assisted living facility in your area.
Researching Assisted Living Facilities
Research nearby assisted living facilities using directories and agency listings. You may also inquire from friends, family, and people within your neighborhood. Consider the following four things to narrow down your list of prospective assisted living facilities:
Various factors determine the suitability of a facility’s location. Many people prefer facilities located in the neighborhood they already occupy. But, if you live far from a parent or close relative who needs assisted living, you may prefer one near where you live.
The proximity of a senior care facility to a medical care provider is essential for residents who need specialized health care. If you have friends in an assisted living community, you may prefer to stay in the facility they occupy. Strike any facilities that are not in your preferred location off your list.
The median monthly cost of assisted living was $4,500 in 2021. However, this amount varies between states. Facilities in some states charge residents $3000, while others charge over $7,000 per month.
How much you pay for assisted living also varies for different facilities. Factors that determine the costs of assisted living include:
- The level of care
- Room size
Medicare does not cover the costs of assisted living. Thus, it is wise to compare the charges of different facilities as you do your research.
Still, assisted living costs should not discourage you. There are other accessible payment programs besides Medicare.
3. Care Levels
The staff in assisted living facilities help residents in their day-to-day activities. However, the level of senior care needed varies among residents.
Knowing which care level you need helps you choose the best assisted living facility. There are three care levels:
Level one care applies to independent residents who need reminders for medication. Caregivers also provide supervision while taking injections.
Residents who have a mobility challenge benefit from level two care. This type of care involves assistance with activities like bathing and taking medication.
This is an advanced care option for residents with severe physical or cognitive challenges. Residents in this category require assistance in most daily life activities.
As earlier mentioned, the level of care needed determines the cost of assisted living. During consultations, ensure you are honest about your needs to ensure you get the best care. If you do not feel confident that a facility can cater to your needs, take them off your list.
Unfortunately, cases of violation sometimes happen in senior living facilities. If a facility has a reputation for mistreating its residents, there is no guarantee of your safety there.
Look at state records to see if the state has ever taken disciplinary action against a facility. States also maintain a record of warnings and crimes done in an assisted living facility.
Choosing the Best Among Prospective Facilities
After narrowing down your list of facilities based on the above parameters, visit each facility and do the following:
Ask About Their Amenities
Assisted living communities should cater to residents’ physical and emotional needs. Therefore, they should have amenities to enhance your stay and cater to all your needs. An excellent facility should have the following amenities:
A recreational center: Ask whether the recreational center provides activities you like. If they don’t, ask if you can request a new activity.
Housekeeping: Ask which housekeeping services a facility provides and get their housekeeping schedule.
Scheduled activities: Check if the facility offers classes, volunteer work, or other group activities.
Transportation and parking facilities: Inquire about your transportation options and whether there are transportation charges. Ask if your visitors can get a parking spot. If you drive, ask whether parking is available for your car.
A wellness center: Are there gyms or fitness rooms in the facility? Check also if the facility has a pool.
Spiritual resources: If you are religious, a center with a chapel may be what you need.
Dining facilities: Ask if the rooms have kitchenettes or if there is a shared dining room. Ask if there are specific times for opening dining facilities.
Medical assistance: Ask how the facility handles medical emergencies. Inquire also about assistance with particular health conditions.
Explore Their Accommodations
Accommodations in different facilities differ. Thus, it is best to view the accommodations of different facilities before making a choice.
Most assisted living communities may offer different types of accommodations. Choose an accommodation based on your budget and preferences.
Some factors to consider when choosing an accommodation include:
Accessibility: The best accommodations are those located in a place that makes it easy to access other facilities in the area. Accommodations should also allow residents to move with mobility devices like walkers and wheelchairs.
Utilities: Does each room have a phone? How is the internet service in the rooms?
Furnishings: Check if the bed and other furniture in your room are comfortable.
Be Keen on Maintenance and Design Details
When exploring different facilities, pay attention to how they maintain their exteriors. Cleanliness is an essential requirement in any living facility.
Living in an unclean environment puts your health in danger. Besides, an unclean environment compromises your emotional and mental wellbeing. Explore common areas to check for cleanliness and maintenance.
An assisted living facility should also have accessibility features such as ramps, elevators, and wide doorways. Elements like handrails also tell you the facility cares for its residents’ safety.
An assisted living facility should feel like home. So its décor should be inviting and give residents a chance to incorporate personal details.
Interact With the Staff
You need to be under the care of competent staff to experience the benefits of assisted living. Talk to the staff to decide if you can trust them to cater to your needs or the needs of a loved one.
Check whether you feel comfortable with the staff and evaluate how they answer your questions.
Inquire about the staff training and observe how they interact with the residents in the facility.
Other inquiries to make about the staff before deciding include:
- What is the ratio of caregivers to residents?
- How many staff does the facility have?
- What are the facility’s policies on the staff’s conduct when interacting with residents?
- Are the staff trained to handle emergencies?
- Do you have a certified nurse?
- Are there times when the staff is not available?
Inquire About the Rules of Residency
Find out the rules regarding visitation. Know if you can have overnight guests in your room and any costs associated with having guests sleep over. If you want to bring a pet with you, ensure the facility allows that.
Experience the Facility’s Culture
A 2020 study linked social engagement to positive health choices among older adults due to the provision of social support. Thus, a good facility should have a culture that promotes social engagement.
The best way to experience a community’s culture is by visiting during a social activity. You can tell how the staff and residents interact and see if the activities offered are enjoyable.
You may also ask for an activity calendar. An assisted living facility should engage residents in the things they love. Thus, choose a facility that offers activities you enjoy.
The general mood of the residents in a facility also tells you their culture. You can tell a community caters to its residents’ social needs if they seem relaxed, happy, and engaged. The interactions between residents should also tell you what to expect.
Have a Meal at the Facility
Having a meal at the facility lets you explore their meal options and interact with residents. Check if the menu offers any of your favorites. Consider also discussing menu options with the staff.
While talking to the staff, inform them of your dietary restrictions to know your options. Also, ask whether there are snacks available between mealtimes. Check the size of the meal portions and ask if one can get seconds.
When you interact with residents, ask them about their experiences in the facility. Get to know what most love about the place and if there is anything they dislike. Inquire also about residents’ routines and daily activities.
Check Online Reviews
Search for reviews of the facilities in your list to understand the experiences of their residents. Reviewers also share most things your tour guide around the facility won’t tell you. Remember, a facility is unlikely to be a good fit for everyone.
So you may find a few bad reviews even on the best facility. But, if a facility has mostly good reviews, do not take it off your list.
Be wary of any facility where residents complain of abuse or negligence. There are many options for assisted living facilities. So do not settle for one where you may be unsafe.
Ask How the Facility Meets Resident’s Personal Needs
Although a facility offers the services you need, it is crucial to get more details on personal care. If possible, ask for a personal care plan to verify whether the staff can cater to your needs. If you have a health condition, ensure a facility has someone to help you manage it.
Your needs may change with time. Thus a facility must be equipped to handle your short-term and long-term personal care needs. Perhaps you foresee a time when you will move from independence to requiring level 3 care.
In that case, a facility that is part of a larger community with a nursing home will make your transition easier.
Some facilities also have licensing to provide enhanced assisted living. Such a facility comfortably accommodates residents when their need for personal care increases. A facility may also help residents find a higher-level care setting.
Inquire About Billing Policies
It is not enough to know how much money a facility charges for its services. It is also essential to understand their payment terms. Facilities have varying payment structures.
Some charge an all-inclusive fee. Others charge a standard room and board fee, then bill residents separately for services.
Settling for a facility that bills services separately from boarding fees may make it challenging to estimate monthly costs. Thus, it is best to choose a facility with an all-inclusive payment structure if you are on a budget.
Ask about a community’s policy on refunds and transfers. It is also best to choose a facility that provides a contractual agreement on payment terms.
Find the Right Assisted Living in My Area
Finding the right assisted living in my area can seem like a tough decision.
But, following the above guidelines will make the process much easier. You deserve the best care you can get. So do not be afraid to ask tough questions when evaluating prospective facilities.
If you need a facility that feels like a home away from home, look no further than Heidi’s Haven. Our staff loves helping and interacting with residents.
We also work with a local doctor to provide high-level care. Contact us today for more information on our assisted living facilities.