Choosing the Right Assisted Living Community or Residential Care Home is one of the most important, yet difficult decisions you have to make for your loved one. There can be ten to hundreds of assisted living facilities nearby and being able to identify which is the best fit for your loved one is not easy.
What you need is the ability to easily find care facilities that are a match within your loved one’s care needs, budget, and location. Then you can narrow down your options, tour the selected care communities or residential care homes, and then choose the right assisted living for your loved one.
In This Article:
Essential Tips for Choosing the Right Assisted Living
Common Mistakes When Making the Decision
Know The Facts – Elder Abuse Statistics
Be Prepared – Keep Your Loved One Safe
Essential Tips on Choosing the Right Assisted Living Community or Care Home
1. Involving Your Loved One
In order to understand your parent’s needs, level of care required, and the type of activities and amenities your parents want, it is very important to discuss the available care options with your parents. This also allows your elderly loved one to be part of the decision-making process so that they are less likely to feel left out of important discussions regarding their future.
As a result, it should make the transition into Assisted Living much smoother and ensure they are happy in their new home.
2. Understanding Your Loved One’s Needs
It is very important to understand and determine the daily needs of your Loved One so that you can find the right care facility that can meet those requirements. Having a good understanding of your Loved One’s level of independence will help you find the right home that can provide the required level of care.
Questions to Ask –
Does your Loved One need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)? Do they need help with dressing themselves, taking a shower, going to the bathroom, preparing meals, taking their medications, etc.? If you answered “yes” to any of these, they most likely need Assisted Living.
Does your Loved One have a hard time remembering where they are at, who you are or what they were doing? Do they get frustrated or show signs of agitation at night (possibly a sign of sundowners)? Do they wander out of the house or sometimes get lost? If you answered “yes” to any of these, they may need a Memory Care Community or Home.
3. Know Your Options
Get at least 2 to 3 options of communities or care homes to compare and consider what you liked the most and liked the least. Are they a match for your 1) Location 2) Budget and 3) Care needs? If so, keep in mind that good care homes and communities usually stay full with occasional vacancies. When they do have one available, the facilities that are well-known and have a good reputation usually fill their opening up very quickly.
The tricky part is lining up when a good care home has an availability and the timing when your Loved One is in need of care. If you already toured facilities but your Loved One is not ready, it might be a good idea to see if you can go on the care facilities’ wait lists.
Choosing the right assisted living facility can be made easier with the help of an Expert Care Advisor at a Placement Agency. They can find you matches based on care needs, budget and location. These agencies offer options at no charge and it only takes a few minutes to save you a lot of time and headache.
4. Tour More Than One Care Facility
It’s probably a good idea to make appointments with a few assisted living facilities so you can compare the pros and cons of each and decide which is the best fit for your loved one. When you arrive, the care home or care facility will have its best foot forward, so ensure to take your time and be thorough when you visit.
If you need some reminders, you can print and take this Touring Checklist with you in order to ensure you don’t miss anything.
5. Ask the Right Questions
Being prepared with the right questions to ask is key in ensuring your Loved One’s health and happiness in their new home. Getting a better understanding of the services, programs and processes of the care facility will allow you to determine if the place is a good fit or not.
-Can they meet your aging loved one’s specific care needs?
-What is their CPR Policy? Do you agree with it?
-Do they provide plenty of opportunities for activities and social interaction?
-How much do they charge? Are there any additional fees?
-Do they train their staff members and caregivers to ensure quality service?
-What are the requirements for being hired to provide care to their residents?
-Do they have any safety guidelines for caregivers?
-What is the ratio of caregivers to residents in the senior care home?
-Do they background check all of their employees (not just those in direct contact with residents)?
6. Be Thorough When Touring
Visit each Assisted Living facility during an active time of day (usually after breakfast or lunch). Schedule a tour when there is an activity or event in the assisted living community. It will be ideal if you and your loved one can participate in the program as this will give you a chance to see how the residents and staff members interact with each other.
Touring Checklist Examples & Questions to Ask:
Be sure to observe the following: Are the staff members friendly and attentive? Are the residents enjoying themselves and connecting with others? Also, be sure to check the activities calendar. This should be posted on the community or care homes’ website or lobby.
If you can’t find it, ask the assisted living community director or any of the staff members for a copy. It’s important that you find a care facility that offers activities that your senior loved one would enjoy for socialization and stimulation purposes.
When you arrive at the assisted living community or residential care home, make sure you inspect the facility thoroughly, noting any good key points or any red flags. Do you feel welcomed the moment you step in the door of the community or care home?
Are their licensing certificates displayed or do they have photos of the residents at celebrations? Do they visibly display their food menu or schedule of activities? Are the residents just sleeping in their room during the day or are they staying active? Are the bathrooms and the insides of the refrigerators clean? Do you get the feeling it looks like the community or care home pays attention to detail?
Keep your ears and nose open for noise levels and cleanliness. When touring, observe the surroundings. Is the community clean? How about the smell? Do you smell anything bad? An odor may have been caused by a recent, isolated incident, but a persistent odor is definitely a red flag. This means that if there is an unpleasant odor, the facility is not being properly maintained or the caregivers are not providing the care that the residents deserve.
It would be good to ask about the services they provide like laundry and housekeeping services. Are these services included in the cost or do they charge extra fees for these services?
These are all very important questions you should be asking when you tour each care facility. Being thorough will make choosing the right assisted living facility much easier.
7. Talk to the Residents
Are they sociable? How do residents interact with one another? Do they look well groomed? Are they happy? Are their alert levels similar to that of your Loved One? In case the residents are not alert, it doesn’t mean the care facility is a bad home. It could mean that the particular home or community specializes in dementia residents.
Before you tour, make sure to find out from the staff and owner the condition of the residents to help save you time. Ensure you talk to the residents and try to determine if they would get along with your Loved One.
8. Talk to the Owner and Caregivers
Ask to be introduced to the assisted living manager or administrator so you can ask her questions about the community or care home. Does the Owner and Caregivers seem friendly and welcoming? Do they rush you off or do they take the time to ask you the questions to understand your Loved One’s needs?
Talk to the caregivers and staff members. How do the staff and caregivers interact with the residents? Do they seem like they care? Do they seem caring and friendly? Do they talk to the residents in a respectful way? Remember, the manager or the administrator will be your main contact for any issues. So be sure that they are knowledgeable and passionate about their job. Observe them and take notes.
A facility with skilled and caring staff members will most likely be more equipped in providing a safer and more enjoyable environment for your loved one.
9. Try the Food
Who doesn’t love good food? We all do, right? Eating a delicious, healthy and well-balanced meal is very important, especially for seniors. Most assisted living communities offer potential residents and their families a free meal after they tour. Be sure to take advantage of this offer so you and your loved one can try their food.
If possible, take some time to engage with some of the current residents during mealtime. Ask them for their opinions about the community and of course about the food. We often overlook how important meal choices are to the elderly. Keep in mind that food is usually a priority for them and food can impact the quality of your Loved One’s assisted living experience.
10. Evaluate the Safety and Security Measures
Placing your loved one in a safe and secure environment is crucial when choosing an assisted living community or residential care home. Walking around the outdoor areas of the facility will give you a good idea if the community feels safe. This will also give you a chance to see what kind of security measures they have in place.
Go a step further and ask a few questions about their security and emergency safety protocols. A good assisted living facility will provide an emergency plan and hold quarterly safety drills with their residents and staff members.
Questions to Ask
Check the surroundings. Do they have grab bars next to the toilet and showers? Did they provide rubber mats and shower chairs? How about lighting? Do they have night-lights in hallways and bathrooms? Ask about the resident-to-caregiver ratio. Is there sufficient staff at any given time of day?
Ask what kind of staff they have. Do they have registered nurses on site or on call? Taking the time to assess the level of safety of an assisted living facility is very important to give your family peace of mind.
11. Ask About the Caregiving Procedures
Part of moving into an assisted living facility means that your Loved One will start depending on different people to help take care of them. Personal care is one of the most vital aspects in giving your Loved One a good quality of life. It is important that you consider their short-term and long-term care needs. Be sure that the Assisted Living community can provide the long term care needs that your Loved One will require. Typically, the care needs of the individual will increase as they age. Planning ahead could possibly help you avoid another move in the future.
Ask the staff about their procedures, such as bathing options, and be sure to observe the current residents. Do they appear well groomed? Have they been dressed correctly and appropriately for the time of year? Does it seem like the staff members treat them with dignity and respect? Do they go the extra mile to make them feel good? Personal care is another important part in selecting the best assisted living facility because health and hygiene go hand in hand.
12. Plan Ahead Financially
Be sure to review the Contract thoroughly, especially the financial section. It is important that you are aware of all the costs involved. This includes the community fees and potential annual rate increases so that you can plan accordingly.
Per Genworth Financial (Genworth Cost of Care Survey), the average annual increase for Assisted Living in the U.S is 3.8%. Ask the Community Director about the Annual Rate Increase as well as their policy for any increase in care charges to avoid any future surprises.
You may want to consider having a lawyer review the documents before signing the contract. If you need additional assistance, you may also want to consult with the local Placement Agency or a social worker to help you in making the Assisted Living best decision possible for your family.
13. Get All the Facts
Check on the Facility’s Licensing Records and get testimonials from the other residents’ families that are staying there now or that have stayed there in the past. Check with the neighbors to see if there have been any reported problems inside or outside of the Assisted Living facility. You can even check with your local ombudsman to find out if there have been any problems at a particular facility.
If you want a thorough report, a great place to start checking on the care facility is with State Licensing. Each care home and community is licensed by the State and they keep on file all of the write-ups or citations each facility has received since it opened.
Minor citations are common, such as administration write-ups. However, major citations noted by the State inspector are something worth learning more about in detail. If a care facility has a major citation, it is worth getting more information from the State and even bringing it to the attention of the care homeowner or management staff for an explanation.
Also, see how they rate online. Do your research and check reliable , reputable reviews and ratings for the facilities you are considering. Be sure to also check their Better Business Bureau rating and look for complaints (or compliments) from the residents or their families. Taking all of these proper steps will definitely help in choosing the right Assisted Living community or residential care home.
14. Time Is Your Friend
The more time you have to research available assisted living facilities in your area, the better it is for you and your Loved One. As mentioned earlier, vacancies at the good care homes or communities can change at a moment’s notice. When you are ready to move your Loved One, give the assisted living facility a 2-3 week notice in advance. Should your top preferred facilities not have a vacancy when you are ready for the transition, a care expert advisor can help you find many matches in your area.
Choosing the right Assisted Living facility is important in order to avoid moving your Loved One from one care facility to another. This can be very difficult for your Loved One and put them under a lot of stress moving from one place to another.
The initial move to an Assisted Living care home or community is already going to be a big adjustment, so you want to make sure that you choose wisely. Stick to these tips so you can increase your chances of success in finding the right home.
Common Mistakes When Making the Decision
1. Waiting too Long to Choose an Assisted Living Facility
Too many well-meaning family members put off finding a care facility until something has happened at home or it’s done last minute. This creates unnecessary pressure and stress for the family and elderly Loved One as you are quickly forced to find a viable care option. Having to make a quick decision can result in a poor Assisted Living choice that is not a good fit for the senior’s needs and wants.
2. Not Visiting the Assisted Living Facility or Not Doing Enough Research
Colorful brochures with smiling, happy seniors on the cover may give a good first impression. However, there is no way to truly determine if an Assisted Living facility is the right choice for your family unless you tour the care facility and interact with the residents and staff members.
3. Not Discussing Care Options With Your Loved One
Choosing an Assisted Living facility without your parent’s input can very easily lead to placing your parent in a senior care residence that does not meet his or her care needs. It can also lead to increased feelings of abandonment, loss of independence and hard feelings between family members.
Recommendation: To avoid these common mistakes, it’s always recommended to plan ahead and give yourself and Loved One enough time to make this very important decision.
Elder Abuse Statistics – Know the Facts
In a 2004 study, the National Center on Elder Abuse found that women, who were the victims in 67% of reported elder abuse cases that year, were much more likely to suffer from elder abuse than their male counterparts.
This study also showed that substantiated reports of elder abuse had increased by 16% since their 2000 survey. A report released in 2006 by the same organization noted that:
- 20% of elder abuse cases involved caregiver neglect
- 15% involved financial abuse
- 15% involved verbal, psychological or emotional abuse
- 11% involved physical abuse
These statistics show just how serious elder abuse is. With elder abuse on the rise, finding a good senior care community or care home for your Aging Loved one is very important.
Keeping Your Loved One Safe
You do not want your loved one to become a victim of elder abuse, so do your research and have ample time in making the best decision possible for them. Being a victim of abuse or neglect can cause physical and emotional harm to Seniors, and can even lead to death. This is particularly true with Seniors who are less equipped to defend themselves or unable to express their feelings of what is happening to them.
There is no better feeling than knowing that your parents will not be a victim of elder abuse or neglect and will be given the level of care and attention he or she needs. Keeping these tips in mind will assist you in selecting a good and safe home for your Loved One. Thus, giving you peace of mind.
We’re here for you.
Give us a call today at (877) 523-6523 x1 for FREE Assisted Living Options.
We can guide you through all of your options so you can make the best decision for your Loved One.
Articles Related to Finding & Choosing an Assisted Living Facility:
- Discussing Assisted Living With Aging Loved Ones
- Senior Care Facility Checklist
- Pre-Admission Procedure
- What To Do When Problems Occur?
- When To Move Your Parents To An Assisted Living
- Preparing Aging Parents For Assisted Living
- How To Help Care For Aging Parents
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Catharine “Kate” is a Certified Administrator for Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) and an Expert Senior Care Advisor. Kate’s grandmother battled Alzheimer’s Disease and Kate personally understands what millions of families are going through. Kate and her team are very passionate in empowering Seniors and their families by providing them with the Best Available Senior Care Options based on Senior’s care needs, preferred location and family’s budget.
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