Five Things to Consider When Choosing an Assisted Living Facility
If you or someone you love is considering an assisted living facility, you already know that the decision isn’t an easy one.
Aside from concerns about happiness, the financial impacts, and the major lifestyle change this transition brings, you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available. When choosing an assisted living residence, it’s important to find out as much as you can about all of your possible choices to ensure that your needs will be met both now and in the future. Creating a detailed plan will also help you get organized and ensure that you don’t miss any important details. Here are five things to consider when looking for the right community for yourself or a loved one.
- Put safety first. Make sure any facility you’re interested in is licensed and that it meets state regulations. The facility’s administrator should be able to provide a copy of the license or certification. Also inquire about the average resident length of stay, if there is a waiting list, staff turnover rates, and the average length of staff employment. Conduct research online or over the phone to determine if the facility has any citations, fines, complaints or violations, and how they performed on their most recent state home care survey.
- Give financial issues plenty of attention. Since the cost of assisted living is generally paid for out of pocket, it’s important to know what to expect financially. If you haven’t already done so, start by reviewing your own finances and the current costs of the facilities you’re considering. It’s wise to ask about additional fees that may be associated with your specific needs or those you might have in the future. You’ll also want to get assurance of the financial security of any facility you look at. Like all housing, assisted living communities are affected by changes in the economy. In the event of a downturn, newer facilities or those that are seeing a decrease in residents may be at risk for bankruptcy. Protect yourself or your loved one from unexpected costs or other complications by doing your homework and working with an attorney. Ask for a copy of the admissions contract and have it reviewed by your legal counsel before making any commitments.
- Location, location, location. You should give plenty of thought to your relationships and think about how the facility you are considering will impact them. Are weekly visits from the grandkids the highlight of your life? Then you’ll want to make sure that the community you choose is located close enough that your family will still be able to visit regularly. Likewise, if you can’t imagine life without your long-time friends from church or your amazing doctor, make sure that you’re in proximity to make maintaining these relationships possible and that transportation is available.
- Think long-term. Moving from living independently to a care residence can be unnerving, for sure, so it's natural to resist trying to consider your next move. Still, it’s important to think about what’s down the road. Some assisted living facilities are part of a larger continuing care retirement community (CCRC) that allow residents to move from assisted living to skilled nursing facilities if and when they need to. Others may have relationships with outside health care providers once a resident's needs exceed what their facility offers. Give some thought to what your or your loved one might need in a few years. Then, ask the facility if those needs can be met and what they could cost.
- Visit more than once. In any community, the people you interact with every day can play an important role in determining how happy you are living there. Schedule tours of prospective assisted living communities to allow you the chance to view them up close and determine if they feel like home. This will also give you the opportunity to observe the staff and to ask them important questions pertaining to your care or the care of your loved one. Observe residents and staff as they interact. Do they appear to have warm, trusting relationships? Are the concerns of residents addressed in a timely, respectful manner? Make it a point to stop in for an unannounced visit in the evening or on a weekend. If everything looks as it did during the tour, that's a good sign. If the atmosphere is completely different, it might be worth considering other facilities. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, visit again and be sure to talk with current residents. They can give you some valuable insights that may make your final choice a little easier. If the residents seem content and well cared for, chances are you or your loved one will be, too.
Throughout the journey for your new home, keep the focus on finding a residence that will keep you or your loved one happy and healthy in the years to come. If you would like more information about how to choose an assisted living residence or are in need of reliable area resources, we’re happy to help. Please reach out to our knowledgeable, compassionate funeral directors anytime.
About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.