Around 1 million Americans over the age of 65 live in assisted living facilities. Though its a common housing option for seniors, the decision won’t come easy for every family.
Finding the right housing fit for parents who can no longer live alone can be an emotional process. Use these 7 tips to find the perfect assisted living facility for your parent or loved one.
One of the top considerations of choosing an assisted living facility is cost. You want to avoid having your parents fall in love with a facility that isn’t affordable.
Work with a financial planner to determine how your parents can budget their retirement nest egg or sell off assets to cover the housing costs. If you’re planning to cover the expense, make sure you and your spouse are in agreement about the max amount you want to spend.
Make a shortlist of the top-rated senior living properties in your area to get cost estimates. This isn’t always an easy answer for the assisted living facility to give without knowing your family’s exact needs.
But having a transparent discussion upfront about what you can afford will help them see whether or not your budget makes sense for their property.
2. Assisted Living Facility vs. Nursing Homes
There’s a major difference between an assisted living facility and a nursing home. Nursing homes have certified medical professionals on staff.
Nursing homes are for aging seniors who require daily medical attention. In an assisted living facility, seniors get help with things like bathing and dressing but they don’t have a medical need that requires a nurse on call.
Some assisted living facilities do offer specialty services that go beyond helping residents put on pajamas. Check with senior facilities in your area to learn the amenities that might be relevant for your family.
3. Read Reviews
Online reviews can help your family narrow down the best assisted living facilities in your area. Reviews are helpful in giving first and second-hand accounts of what life is like at an assisted living facility.
Reviewers share everything from bad experiences with staff to the quality of the food served at dinner. This is everything you won’t likely hear during a guided tour.
But reviews aren’t everything. You should still schedule a tour to see the facility for yourself.
Bad reviews can simply mean the facility wasn’t a good fit for another family. Your parents might love the dinners the other family hated.
Learn for yourself what works for your parents and what won’t. If you read anything alarming like alleged neglect or abuse, move on to the next assisted care facility.
With so many assisted living facilities to choose from, it doesn’t make sense to risk the safety of your parents by placing them in a potentially harmful environment.
4. Talk to the Staff
When choosing an assisted care facility, it’s not uncommon to want the staff to treat your parents with the same level of love and attention as you do. While this could be a high bar for employees to meet, you do want signs that they have a high level of compassion for older adults.
Employees who seem to enjoy their work and have a good rapport with residents are proof of a loving environment for your parents. Observe staff members who aren’t a part of your tour to see how they interact with residents.
Ask your tour guide about any bad reviews you find online. If they are aware of the issues, ask their plans to resolve them.
You should be able to tell from their response how they handle conflict in the facility. Their response reveals whether they are solution-oriented or dismissive.
Steer clear of assisted living facilities that don’t have clear ways of handling conflict. A dismissive or negative staff member will likely handle your family’s concerns with the same attitude.
5. Meal Quality
The devil is in the details. Small details like serving your parents’ favorite meal once a week greatly improves their quality of life.
Talk through any dietary preferences and restrictions with the staff to see what options exist for your parents. If you are visiting during mealtime, ask to see the food to learn how they handle portion sizes.
You’ll want to find out whether residents can get seconds or snacks if they are hungry outside of mealtime. This can make a big difference for anyone with a large appetite.
6. Keep it Close to Home
Find an assisted living facility close to your home. The drive to visit your parents should be easy to allow you more time to visit without changing your lifestyle.
Choosing out of town locations have few perks unless there are other family members nearby. Visits from family are extremely important to your parents quality of life as they get older.
7. Memory Care
If your parent suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, look for an assisted living facility with memory care services. Memory care often involves providing set routines in order to lower stress levels for residents with memory issues.
These services are provided by specially trained staff who have experience handling the unique circumstances that come with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Memory care should include more check-ins from caregivers as residents navigate through the day.
Choosing the Right Facility
An assisted living facility can be a breath of fresh air for aging adults who can no longer live on their own. Places that offer a healthy mix of activities with quality meals can help ease the stress of daily life.
The key is finding the best fit for your parent’s personality. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact us today.