Many people will have to answer this question, either for themselves or for a much beloved family member. This may be one of the most important and difficult matters any of us ever face. It is a choice that will have lasting, far reaching effects on the happiness, health and well-being of the person involved.
Unfortunately, most people are not prepared or qualified to make this choice. After all, very few of us think about it before we are forced to do so. When the time comes, most people have little background knowledge and no idea of where to turn for trustworthy, knowledgeable advice.
First, you should understand what the term “assisted living facility” (ALF) actually means. An assisted living facility is a form of senior housing that blends independent, private living space with some level of support service. The level of support services offered may vary, but it generally includes housekeeping, meal preparation, assistance with daily living functions and some level of 24-hour supervision. Retirement communities, 55+ communities, senior apartments and condos are not assisted living facilities in themselves, although some of them may offer assisted living sections within a larger community.
The first question you should ask is whether you want or need assistance with daily functions. Many seniors are in good health, have few medical issues and can easily “take care of themselves” without outside help. As the need for help with routine, daily tasks increases, the need for assisted living help also increases. When the routine tasks of daily life become a burden, it is time to think of an assisted living facility. People sometimes find themselves in need of immediate assisted living care, but always take the time to investigate and to get experienced help. Think about this as far in advance as possible when you are not in crisis and can carefully consider the options.
The first consideration may well be location. An assisted living facility is a different environment for new residents and they will want as much contact with family, old friends and neighbors as possible. A location within a 20 to 30 minute drive from home helps to encourage visits, maintain contact and keep the new resident involved.
The medical, physical and mental needs of the resident should be important guidelines in making the choice. Does the facility have the staff, the equipment and the training to meet those needs? Seek the advice of doctors and other persons trained to evaluate those requirements and then be certain that the ALF you are considering can meet them. Ask the admission personnel to describe their facility’s programs for dealing with needs like limited mobility, memory loss, specialized medical care and any other situation an evaluation may reveal.
Determine if the ALF you are investigating can provide at least the level of support services that the resident and professional advisors feel are needed. Various assisted living facilities provide different services that may or may not be paid for individually. Make sure that the needed services are available and know what they cost. Some examples are:
- Help with activities of daily living such as housekeeping and laundry;
- Two (or more) prepared meals per day;
- Recreational activities;
- Local transportation;
- Meals delivered to living spaces, if needed;
- Care and medication management and monitoring;
- Specialized care for dementia, Alzheimer’s and memory loss;
Assisted Living Facilities are governed by the states and there are 50 sets of laws, standards, regulations and regulators for their operations. How are you going to find the one that is right for you or your loved one? Always keep in mind that all ALFs should meet some basic requirements. They should strive to maintain the resident’s independence and involvement to the greatest degree possible for the longest time possible. They should treat residents with dignity, integrity and respect at all times. They should be upfront and transparent about their services, the costs and all other policies that could have a consequence for the resident.
How can you learn if the ALF you are considering meets these requirements? Go and see them! Talk to the management, the professional and other staff. See what their attitudes and their levels of personal care and professionalism are like. Observe the current residents of the ALF if possible. Are they well cared for and satisfied?
All of this takes time and it may be only one part of transitioning to a senior lifestyle. There are so many options, decisions and choices. When you or a loved one needs help with this, or any related problem, Finding Assisted Living and FindingAssistedLiving.com stand ready to help. Finding Assisted Living locates and vets the local resources you can trust. From medical and legal professionals to assisted living facilities to in-home services, you can count on FAL to provide expert and trustworthy advice and assistance. Visit FindingAssistedLiving.com now to get the help you need.