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5 Things to Consider as You Research Assisted Living Communities

Making a plan for our futures is not only comprised of career choices, how we raise our children or healthy eating. Part of planning for the future is understanding when you may need to consider assisted living options. But what is assisted living, what does it cost and how do you determine if and/or when it’s right for you?

What is “assisted living”?

The term assisted living is used when referring to housing, whether communities or facilities where senior citizens can live and have various levels of assistance in maintaining their daily lives. Many communities have personalized programs and offer independent living all the way up to a high level of round-the-clock assistance.

Some communities have specialties, such as memory care or long-term rehabilitation. But in general, the phrase assisted living refers to a home like setting that has professional staff to lend assistance to senior life, including meals, house cleaning, laundry, etc.

What does it cost?

Much like everything else, the cost of assisted living various from state to state. Most of the time, it is relative to the cost of living. What must be remembered is that these costs encompass all of the monthly costs that one usually has. Costs like utilities, groceries and sometimes even transportation costs are all rolled up into one monthly rate.

The median across the U.S. in 2021 was approximately $4,500 per month, but the range from state to state is $3,000 to $7,000. Find out more information here about the average monthly cost of assisted living facilities in your state here.

What should I remember when researching communities?

After making a list of needs and wants from a community for yourself or your loved one, the below steps are helpful:

Start with your local state agency on aging. Getting your initial leads can feel like the most challenging part. Click here to go to Eldercare Locator website, which can help you find agencies in your state.

Ask your doctor for referrals. Speak with your health care providers to see what facilities they are aware of and which ones they recommend. This could include the staff at your healthcare providers office. Word-of-mouth referrals are a very positive sign.

Make a list of questions. Before actually speaking with a community or going on a tour, have your questions ready to go. Here is great list of questions from SeniorLiving.org:

  • How many people live at the home? What is the ratio of caregivers to residents?
  • Does the facility feel home-like? Do you like the décor?
  • What are the apartment and room choices? Do you have a full apartment with kitchen?
  • Do you have a private bath? Will you share an apartment?
  • Can residents bring their own pets? What are the restrictions with pets?
  • Can residents bring their own furniture and décor? What furnishings are provided?
  • Is there a separate thermostat in your room? Is there plenty of natural lighting?
  • What is the view like? Is there enough closet and storage space? Are kitchen cabinets easy to reach?
  • Talk to the residents and staff? Does the staff seem to genuinely care?
  • Would you enjoy sharing meals with the residents? Do you share common interests?
  • Are the assisted living residents somewhat independent? Is there social activity in the common areas?
  • Do the residents seem happy?
  • Is staff available around the clock? Are all entrances and exits secured?
  • Is there a fire sprinkler system? Smoke detectors? Emergency call system in the rooms?
  • Are registered nurses on staff? What are their hours? If an RN isn’t on duty 24/7, it’s important to know the center’s protocol in case of nighttime emergencies.
  • Are the halls and grounds well lit? Are there handrails in the hallways?
  • Are the hallways and doorways wide wide enough for walkers and wheelchairs? Are there walk-in showers?
  • Is there a monthly events calendar posted? Are the spiritual services on-site?
  • Does the facility have a space for outdoor recreation? If so, make sure that the area looks inviting but is guarded against trespassers.
  • Are there transportation schedules for errands and medical appointments?
  • What social activities, classes and field trips are facilitated by the staff?
  • Crafts room? Computers and printers? Massage therapy? Swimming pool? Convenience shop?
  • Is the community near (or have) a beauty/hair salon and barber? Library? Grocery store? Movies? Mall?
  • Is there a meal menu and can residents choose when to eat? Do the menu selections vary from day to day?
  • Ask to see the facility’s licensing and certification reports. These show any patterns of neglect and medication errors.
  • Ask to see a copy of the assisted living resident agreement which spells out the facility’s obligations. It will list the charge of items that are extra like laundry service.
  • Are friends and relatives allowed to stay overnight?
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio? A good ratio for fairly independent residents is 1 to 15. In some smaller facilities, the staff will perform all the duties while in larger communities there is a separation. What is the staff turnover rate? Rates in the double digits could indicate a problem.
  • If a resident becomes more disabled, can the facility accommodate those needs?
  • Who dispenses medication and how much training have they had? States have training requirements.
  • What are the criteria for moving out? When might a senior be asked to leave?

Get Online. Doing some in-depth research online will lead you in the right direction. There is much information to be found on assisted living community website and they often will aso have a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page, where the most common questions about assisted living in general and specific to their community.

Use your resources. Check out resources such as Assisted Living Consumer Alliance and Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living. These organizations have all the resources you may need in one place.

Wrap Up

The age old decision between aging-in-place (What Does it Mean to Age-in-Place in 2021?) and considering assisted living communities doesn’t have to be a difficult one. Consider the levels of care needed, costs (honestly evaluating both), the level of independence and desire for things like grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning are good first steps.

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Do you have questions about how you can better support your loved one while they age in place in South Florida or regarding homecare in general? Please contact CareGivers of America here: Contact or call us toll free: 800-342-4197

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*No information in this article is to be taken as advice, medical or otherwise. This post is not sponsored, but may contain external links to websites, articles or product examples. External links are used for example or refence purposes only and these links do not indicate specific product or website endorsement by CareGivers of America.

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