Exploring Assisted Living For Your Loved One

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a term for short or long-term housing for senior adults who require assistance with daily tasks, like personal care, laundry, medicine management, cooking and more.  

There are many types of assisted living as it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all case. Finding the perfect place for your loved one will depended on their current physical and mental support needs, the family’s available budget, and location to ensure visits are easy for family members.

Finding the ideal place can assist older adults in maintaining good health for a longer period of time – and seniors and their adult children have peace of mind knowing 24/7 care, love and support is being provided.

When Is it Time?

If living alone has become unsafe for your elder loved one, it may be time to begin considering moving them to an assisted living community.

What Services Are Provided?

Features and services offer by assisted living communities can vary greatly. Also, your family’s needs and wants will not be the same as another’s families, therefore open communication is key. Prioritize features and must-have’s, and begin exploring options. By assessing individual needs such as medication management, meal plans, activities, housekeeping, personal care, and more. Also take into consideration a community’s offering of social activities as they offer opportunity for connections and friendships that are so very  beneficial to a persons well-being, mentally and physically. 

According to the National Center for Assisted Living, typical services provided by assisted living communities

  • 24/7 supervision and assistance.
  • Access to medical professionals – on staff and on-call.
  • Health and wellness programs and activities.
  • Physical and creative activities.
  • Housekeeping, including laundry and cleaning.
  • Personal care, attention and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Healthy meals and snacks
  • Medication management
  • Transportation services
  • On-call medical professional services
  • Premier services and amenities like salon services and physical therapy.

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?

A Genworth Financial survey found that the average cost of assisted living in 2018 was $4,000 per month. However, prices can vary from about $2,000 to $5,000 per month. Cost is shaped by the usual housing factors (e.g., room size, amenities, and geographic location) plus care services. Residents might have separate fees for help with laundry, pet care, physical therapy, and other needs. 

So how do you pay for assisted living? It’s common to combine resources such as personal savings, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, and veterans’ benefits. Some independent living communities have staff available to guide you through the options and paperwork. You can also privately hire a geriatric planner. To help you get started on your own, take a look at our assisted living costs guide at the top of this page; it covers average prices by state and ways to pay.

How to Research Assisted Living Facilities

Determining if assisted living is right for you or a loved one may feel like quite an undertaking. Enlisting trusted support and accessing expert guidance can relieve some of the burden and help you navigate choosing an assisted living community.Here are some first steps you can take to find an assisted living community in your area:

  • Search our assisted living directory.
  • Ask your healthcare provider which assisted living communities they recommend.
  • If you have friends or family who live in a local assisted living community, ask them about their experience and recommendations.
  • Visit or call your local Area Agency on Aging.

How to Find the Right Assisted Living Community

A great way to find the right assisted living community is to visit several different facilities. When touring an assisted living center, you’ll be on the lookout for standards of cleanliness and personal interaction. Remember, for a high quality of life, it’s critical to find a good social match, not just a facility that meets basic needs. Visiting assisted living communities will give you a better idea of the social setting, activities, and culture the community fosters. Eating a meal at the facility can be a great way to start gaining an insider’s view – so if possible, arrange an interview over lunch or dinner at the facility. It’s also helpful to observe a class or facilitated social activity. Here are several questions to ask and consider during your visit.

Questions Related to the Home / Facility

  1. How many people live at the home? What is the ratio of caregivers to residents?
  2. Does the facility feel home-like? Do you like the décor?
  3. What are the apartment and room choices? Do you have a full apartment with kitchen?
  4. Do you have a private bath? Will you share an apartment?
  5. Does the residence have its own dog or cat? Can residents bring their own pets? What are the restrictions with pets?
  6. Can residents bring their own furniture and decor? What furnishings are provided?
  7. Is there a separate thermostat in your room? Is there plenty of natural lighting?
  8. What is the view like? Is there enough closet and storage space? Are kitchen cabinets easy to reach?

Questions Related to the People

  1. Talk to the residents and staff? Does the staff seem to genuinely care?
  2. Would you enjoy sharing meals with the residents? Do you share common interests?
  3. Are the residents somewhat independent? Is there social activity in the common areas?
  4. Do the residents seem happy?

Questions Related to the Safety

  1. Is staff there around the clock? Are all entrances and exits secured?
  2. Is there a fire sprinkler system? Smoke detectors? Emergency call system in the rooms?
  3. Are registered nurses on staff? What are their hours? If an RN isn’t on duty 24/7, it’s important to know the center’s protocol in case of nighttime emergencies.
  4. Are the halls and grounds well lit? Are there handrails in the hallways?
  5. Are the hallways and doorways wide sufficient for walkers and wheelchairs? Are there walk-in showers?

Questions Related to the Amenities

  1. Is there a monthly events calendar posted? Are the spiritual services on-site?
  2. Does the facility have a space for outdoor recreation? If so, make sure that the area looks inviting but is guarded against trespassers.
  3. Are there transportation schedules for errands and medical appointments?
  4. What social activities, classes and field trips are facilitated by the staff?
  5. Crafts room? Computers and printers? Massage therapy? Swimming pool? Convenience shop?
  6. Is the community near a beauty/hair salon and barber? Library? Grocery store? Movies? Mall?

Other Considerations / Questions

  1. Is there a meal menu and can choose when to eat? Do the menu selections vary from day to day?
  2. Ask to see the facility’s licensing and certification reports. These show any patterns of neglect and medication errors.
  3. Ask to see a copy of the resident agreement which spells out the facility’s obligations. And it will list the charge of items that are extra like laundry service.
  4. How close are you to friends and relatives? Are they allowed to stay overnight?
  5. What is the staff to patient ratio? A good ratio for fairly independent residents is 1 to 15. In some smaller facilities, the staff will perform all the duties while in larger communities there is a separation. What is the staff turnover rate? Rates in the double digits could indicate a problem.
  6. If a resident becomes more disabled can the facility accommodate those needs?
  7. Who dispenses medication and how much training have they had? States have training requirements.
  8. What are the move-out criteria? When might a senior be asked to leave?