When is it time for assisted living? This is a question that many families ask themselves when they realize their loved ones need more support than they can provide at home. Selecting an ideal assisted living community is a crucial step that not only aligns with your loved one’s needs and lifestyle, but also promotes their happiness and wellbeing.
When you first approach the subject, the task may feel overwhelming, like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle without a picture to guide you. That’s why we’re here, to act as your reference image and ensure all those pieces fall into place. Let’s embark on this journey together!
Understanding Assisted Living
Assisted living is a long-term care option designed for seniors who require help with everyday tasks but still value their independence. Facilities typically provide a range of services such as help with medication, meals, housekeeping, and personal care like bathing and dressing.
Each community is unique, offering a variety of services and amenities. They are intended to provide a balance of support and independence, keeping residents safe while promoting social engagement and a sense of community.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Assisted Living Community
When choosing an assisted living community, there are several key factors to consider. It’s a lot like shopping for a new house – you need to find a place that feels like home and meets all your requirements. The difficult part is looking at care. People have a tendency to shop for assisted living like shopping for real estate. The aesthetics are important, but what’s most important is care and that’s not easy to see.
Working with a local expert in the field of senior care communities can help as they know community reputations and have access to licensing records and reports as well. Additionally, they know what levels of care are provided at each location, as all care settings do not provide the same levels of care. For example, some accept residents who are insulin diabetics, and others do not.
Some have weight limits based on staff capability. Some will accept wheelchairs and others prefer more mobile residents, etc. There are dozens of care criteria that may be important considerations in choosing which care settings to consider. A referral expert can narrow your options considerably, saving you time and stress so you can focus on the most appropriate options from the start.
Look at your loved one’s personal needs. What are their physical health requirements? Do they have any conditions that require specific care? Keep in mind their emotional and mental health support needs. For instance, if your loved one is dealing with dementia, a community that offers specialized memory care is likely the best fit. There are specific requirements by the state of California that may dictate the community choices. Again, a local expert can best direct you to appropriate choices based on the state regulations.
The right community should fit your loved one’s lifestyle and interests. Look at the amenities and activities available at the community. Are there recreational activities they will enjoy? Social interactions they will look forward to?
And don’t forget about proximity to family and friends. Visits from loved ones can boost their spirits, so a community that’s close by and has flexible visiting hours could be a priority. A local expert can identify the best options within your preferred area.
Lastly, look at your budget. Assisted living costs can vary greatly depending on location, size of accommodations, and services offered. Understand what’s included in the monthly cost – room and board, meals, personal care, transportation services, etc. It is also very important to know what the annual increases may be so you can plan ahead. A local referral expert should have a good handle on average increases.
Key Steps in the Assisted Living Selection Process
Choosing the right community is a process that involves thorough research, visiting potential facilities, and conducting interviews.
The best start is with a local referral expert who does not charge you anything for their expertise and knowledge (as they are reimbursed by the senior housing industry and none of those costs should ever be passed on to you). They should partner with a substantial amount of care settings and have detailed information on each of them.
They can narrow your search by identifying those locations that fit the specific needs and budget involved, as well as location preferences, and meeting social needs. Of course, there is always online research and gathering references from trusted sources. Pay attention to reviews and ratings, but remember that not every review reflects the typical resident experience. It’s just one piece of the puzzle.
Next, schedule site visits. This is your opportunity to see the community in action. Observe the interactions between staff and residents. Is the environment friendly and respectful? Are the facilities clean and well-maintained?
Prepare questions for the staff. This is your chance to get a better understanding of the community’s policies and protocols. Inquire about the staff-to-resident ratio, the training staff receives, and how the community handles medical emergencies. A well-experienced local referral expert will be able to provide you with a list of questions and things to look for when you work with them to find the best options for consideration.
Understanding the Transition
Finally, we cannot stress enough the importance of discussing the transition with your loved one. It’s a big change, and feelings of apprehension are completely normal.
Preparing for moving day involves a logistical and emotional plan. The logistical part includes packing and moving belongings, whereas the emotional part is about helping your loved one adapt to their new home. A local referral expert can help also with referrals to transition companies if needed, to help with downsizing, packing, moving, and setting up the new assisted living apartment.
Once your loved one has moved in, support doesn’t stop there. Regular check-ins and visits can go a long way in making them feel secure and loved in their new environment.
Frequently Asked Question
Look for cleanliness, observe the staff’s interaction with residents, check for safety features, and gauge the overall mood of the place. Ask to sample a meal, too!
Start by expressing your concerns gently and openly. Ensure them it’s about their safety and wellbeing, and involve them in the selection process. A local referral expert can help in sharing tips on this process to make it less stressful for the senior.
Look at state licensing reports, read reviews and ratings, and observe interactions during your visit.
Services can include meals, personal care, medication management, housekeeping, social activities, and more.
Remember, choosing an assisted living community for a loved one is a process that deserves time and consideration. Take the time to fully understand their needs, explore different options, and make the most informed decision. One of the best ways to do this is to avail yourself of the services of a local referral expert who knows the ins and outs of the entire process and can help you navigate through it much more easily. Your loved one’s happiness and wellbeing is worth it!