There are over 28,900 assisted living communities in the United States today. Choosing an assisted living home for your elderly parent or loved one can seem like an overwhelming task.
There are many different varieties of assisted living facilities available in the United States each regulated by differing states’ laws. Use this article as a guide to help you choose the right assisted living home for your loved one.
Elderly Assisted Living
Assisted living facilities are designed to aid older people who can no longer live independently. The difference between assisted living and nursing home care is the level of care provided.
Typically, assisted living residents only require help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, and dressing and do not require the round-the-clock-care of a nursing home.
In assisted living facilities residents have their own apartment or room. The assisted living home provides common areas for dining, visiting, or entertainment, while providing around-the-clock supervision.
Services offered include meals, housekeeping, and laundry as well as help with ADLs, access to medical care, and help with medications. Along with these services, assisted living aims to provide a rich social environment for residents.
Social and recreational activities such as movies, book clubs, shopping trips, outings to sporting events, and concerts go a long way to build health and mental well being in elderly residents.
Facilities offer different levels of care depending upon the resident’s needs and the family’s budget. Terms like “assisted living retirement home”, “assisted living nursing home” or “assisted living home care” are examples of the different levels of care available.
Range of Assisted Living Services
Identifying your loved one’s needs can greatly facilitate the search for their new home. Discuss with the future resident questions like these:
- What type of assistance do you need?
- What is your budget? How can you save money on assisted living?
- Where do you want to live?
- What type of activities do you enjoy? What amenities are important to you?
- What questions or concerns do you have about assisted living?
Nationwide, there are almost 30,000 assisted living home choices with over 1 million beds available. These facilities vary widely from residences for 10 – 100 people with an average of 33 residents.
Only half of all facilities are corporate-owned and the rest are independently owned and operated. Some facilities cater to groups with unique needs such as Alzheimer’s or dementia patients while others have a specialized unit or floor to meet memory care needs.
Services may be provided for the developmentally disabled or residents with Parkinson’s. Understanding your loved one’s needs now, and planning to meet their future needs as well, is of primary consideration when beginning your search.
Questions for the Assisted Living Home
It is important to be prepared when calling or touring potential assisted living homes near me. After understanding your loved ones’ needs, consider how the prospective community can meet those needs.
Create a list of questions to ask when you call for information. This will help narrow down the choices before an on-site tour. Important questions will include:
Questions About the Staff
- What is the resident to staff ratio?
- What kind of experience and training does the staff have?
- How many staff members are available during the day? During the overnight hours?
- What is the staff turnover ratio?
- Can staff members administer medications?
- Is there a registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, or medical assistant on staff 24/7?
- Is sufficient staff available to meet the residents’ scheduled and unscheduled medical needs?
- If there isn’t sufficient staff, are they able to contact medical help in the case of an emergency? How far away is this assistance?
- Is sufficient staff available to help with residents’ ADLs 24/7? These ADLs include dressing, bathing, mobility, hygiene, cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and more.
Questions About the Facility
- What type of rooms or apartments are available? What is the monthly cost?
- Do residents have the option of shared or private rooms?
- Are bathrooms private? Or shared?
- What kind of furnishings are available? Can residents decorate their room?
- Is each apartment or room wheelchair accessible? Is the bathroom?
- Does each bathroom and room have a 24-hour emergency response system?
- Is a kitchen provided with a sink? Refrigerator?Cooking elements?
- Are pets allowed?
- Is house cleaning of private spaces included in the price? How much extra is it?
Questions About the Food
- How many meals a day are provided? When? Where?
- Does the menu vary daily? Can they meet the dietary restrictions of the potential resident?
- Are residents allowed to keep or prepare food in their apartments or rooms?
- Are meals prepared for special holidays?
- Can the food be sampled on the tour?
Questions About Common Areas and Activities
- What common areas are available to the residents both indoor and outdoor?
- Is smoking allowed? If so, where?
- If pets are not allowed, are there community animals such as dogs or cats, fish, or birds?
- Does the facility have on-site services such as a beauty/barbershop? Physical therapy? Gym? Other recreational activities?
- Is a place provided for residents to do gardening? Arts and crafts?
- Is there a TV or Media room?
- What type of activities are available? When? Is there a posted schedule of activities? Where is it located? Are residents actively encouraged to participate?
Finding the Best Assisted Living Home
After you have narrowed down your choices, schedule a tour of the facility. Take your loved one with you and as much as possible, involve them in the talking and decision-making process. Visit each option a few times, at different times of the day.
Arrange to visit during mealtime and maybe have lunch with some of the residents to get a feel for what it’s like to live there. Take a copy of the contract home with you and consult your family lawyer to review it.
Finding The Right Fit
Finding the right assisted living home may seem overwhelming with the number of available options. Use these guides and you will be able to discover how the facility runs and the way of life for the residents.
It is important for your loved one to feel completely at home at their new assisted living home and for you to take comfort knowing that your family member is in good hands.
If you’re looking for a compassionate and caring assisted living facility for a loved one but don’t know where to begin, visit the where to begin section on our website for everything you need to know to get you started in your search.