Deciding that assisted living is the right choice for your loved one can be incredibly difficult for the entire family. The next challenge is finding the assisted living community that is the best fit for your loved one’s lifestyle, personality, health care, and budget. Here are eight assisted living search tips to make the process easier.
1. Know What They Need
Make an objective list of services and support needed — both current and anticipated. Think about food, nutrition, and kitchen safety; medications and health status; mobility and functioning; and house and home safety. How much support are they getting in each area, and how much help do they realistically need to stay safe and healthy? Make a list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, fixed, solved, or handled. Knowing upfront what’s needed can help define budget and choice.
2. Determine Their Priorities
What are the most important factors for your elderly parent as you help them choose an assisted living community: proximity, price, transportation, pet-friendliness, programs, meals, privacy? Make a list of your loved one’s must-have services and amenities. Also create a wish list of everything they desire, such as an on-site guest suite for visiting family members, a fitness center with pool, or an in-house branch of a favorite bank.
3. Check Out Available Resources
Of course, you can Google “assisted living near me,” but don’t limit your search to Google. Here are a few recommendations to begin your search:
- Contact your state or local Area Agency on Aging (AAA).
- Talk to your friends and neighbors about their experiences.
- Get suggestions from your parents’ doctor.
- Read retirement guides.
4. Take a Virtual Visit
When you’ve created a list of possible options, look at their websites. Do they have a blog section? Read the articles to gain a better understanding of what they offer. Check for objective information. Do the communities have positive reviews? Are there positive comments on their Facebook pages? Are testimonials available? Make a list of the communities you’d like to call for more information.
5. Talk With the Community
Most assisted living communities don’t provide their prices online because services are customized for each individual resident, so give them a call. Have a few other questions ready to discuss with them, such as what their floor plans look like and the residents’ rights and rules. You can also ask them to email or mail you any information.
You should feel comfortable speaking over the phone with the representative of the community. If you feel like the assisted living community would be a good fit for your loved one, go in for a visit.
6. Observe the Community
When you go in for your tour, pay close attention to how you feel and what is going on around you. Is the community clean? Are the stairs and hallways well-lit? Are there enough common areas, such as dens and living rooms? Are the residents groomed and dressed appropriately? Spend time with the staff and residents. Ask them what they like and dislike about the place. How is the care? Is the staff attentive without being intrusive? Are the doctors and nurses helpful and accommodating? Is there anything missing?
7. Try a Short Stay
Some communities offer the option of doing a short stay for potential residents. For a few days, your elderly parent can try life as a resident by participating in programs, eating in the dining room, and taking exercise classes.
8. Consult a Professional
If you think you’ve found the right community, spend some time reading through all the documentation carefully before signing on the dotted line. Make sure you understand the discharge policy, the monthly rate for housing and care, and what services that rate includes.
If you’re looking for more guidance on which community is the best choice for your elderly parent, have an attorney look over the legal documents and ask a geriatric care manager to point out any benefits you might’ve missed.
For more information about how quickly you can get your parents help, determining the type of help that is best for your parents and whether you can afford it, download our eBook How to Choose the Right Assisted Living Community.