9 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing an Assisted Living Facility
Assisted living facilities balance independence and care. They focus on resident well-being and provide increased opportunities for socialization and stimulation in a home-like setting.
Although all assisted living providers offer the same services, each does so in unique ways. Assisted living communities vary in size, culture, costs, amenities, services, and more.
So, how can you find the right senior care provider for your loved one? Here are 9 important factors to consider when choosing an assisted living facility.
The cost of assisted living varies greatly. One of the first items you need to consider is your budget. How much can you afford each month?
Most assisted living residents pay privately for their accommodations. They use a combination of savings, long-term care insurance, retirement or veterans’ benefits, and life insurance payments. Your budget will determine your senior care options.
If you plan to use Medicaid to pay for assisted living, you will have fewer choices. Some facilities accept a few Medicaid residents. Other facilities cater only to Medicaid residents, but not every facility will be available.
Payment structures also vary. Most communities charge an up-front deposit and monthly rent. Some facilities have a tiered pricing system based on the level of care. Learn more about pricing and availability at Sugarbush Living today.
Make sure you understand what services your contract includes. Many assisted living centers offer a la carte services while others offer all-inclusive arrangements. Be sure to ask whether there are fees for activities, classes, and transportation.
Location of the Assisted Living Facility
Another important factor to consider is location. Family members often select a facility located nearby, so it is easier to visit. But if your loved one lives far away, they may prefer to stay near their home and friends.
You should also consider proximity to the nearest hospital. How long will it take to travel to doctor’s appointments and hairdressers? Make sure the location you select fits your loved one’s lifestyle.
Cleanliness & Maintenance
You can tell a lot about the culture of a place by its physical appearance. It’s easy to see if the floors and windows are clean. Also, be on the lookout for signs of overflowing trash cans or unpleasant odors.
The facility should also be well-maintained. Carpet and flooring should be clean and firmly installed. Check for adequate lighting and bright lightbulbs. A well-stocked restroom also shows regular maintenance.
Don’t forget to check the tidiness of resident rooms or apartments. You are paying for housekeeping services. Make sure they meet your standards.
Safety and Security Features
Spacious doorways, hallways, and rooms easily accommodate mobility devices. Features like handrails and elevators make it safer and easier for people to navigate independently. Good lighting is essential.
Look for smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, sprinkler systems, and lighted exit signs. Be sure they also equip resident living spaces with these safety devices.
Ask about security procedures for residents and guests. Are special precautions provided for memory care residents? Make sure common areas and resident living spaces have access to the emergency response service.
Common Areas, Dining and Amenities
Food is one of the most common concerns when selecting an assisted living facility. Assisted living facilities include a variety of dining options. They often feature shared dining rooms with rotating menus, buffets, on-site eateries, coffee shops, and pubs. Residents may enjoy takeout in their rooms, or visit a convenience store for a quick snack in larger facilities. Some facilities equip apartments and rooms with small refrigerators and microwaves.
Fitness options are another important factor. Seniors who stay active remain in better health. Look for facilities with fitness rooms or activities. Walking paths, tracks, and group exercise classes are popular ways for seniors to stay fit.
Many assisted living facilities also have hair salons, barbershops, chapels, libraries, and more. Find out what common areas are available.
Customized Care Plans
The core of assisted living care is individual support based on the resident’s daily care needs. Ask how the provider creates Customized Care Plans for its residents. You will want to know how a facility assesses residents’ needs, interests, and desires, and how it uses that information to develop a care plan.
A Customized Care Plan defines the specific services provided to each resident. It should also identify the costs associated with those services. Understanding the availability and cost of specific services will help you make an informed decision. You can find a list of services available at Sugarbush Living here.
Continuity of care is also important. In the future, your loved one may need additional medical care. Some assisted living communities also operate skilled nursing facilities or offer additional services for these needs. Residents can easily transition from one to the other. Other facilities may have relationships with different skilled nursing centers.
Social Activities at the Assisted Living Facility
One benefit of moving to an assisted living facility is the community. Often, residents have a more active social life once they move into a senior care facility. Be sure to consider the activities offered at each facility. Ask about the specific activities your loved one enjoys.
Consider the age of the residents you see and whether they appear to be happy and active. It will be easier for your loved one to be with people in a similar age range and mobility level.
Many families want to know the staff-to-resident ratio. This number lets you know how many people are available to help your loved one. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to determine this ratio, and numbers are easy to manipulate.
A more important consideration is the type of staff at the assisted living facility. Are there nurses on the staff? Other medical professionals? Is the community’s executive director a Certified Director of Assisted Living (CDAL)? Do social workers work at the facility?
Another question to consider is the training required for the staff. Are all staff members trained in CPR and First Aid? Do they receive continuing education? What levels of competency must staff display before working one-on-one with residents?
You should also inquire whether the staff is subject to criminal background checks. And verify that they receive training on elder abuse and neglect.
Last, but certainly not least, is your gut instinct. How does the community make you feel? Are the staff warm and friendly? Do they call residents by name?
Do the residents appear to be happy? Are they engaged with other residents and the staff? Are they smiling, friendly, and approachable?
The best way to decide if an assisted living facility is right for you is to schedule a tour. Be an active participant during the visit. Talk to the staff and the residents. Enjoy a meal. Sit in on some activities. Make sure the facility you select feels like home.For a comprehensive checklist of factors to consider, check out this Guide to Choosing a Senior Living Community.