Navigating the Maze of Assisted Living

Selecting an assisted living community can be a daunting task. Much like finding the perfect house, choosing the right assisted living residence requires a thorough inventory of your loved one’s wants and needs, doing research, taking tours, and asking for guidance along the way.

Today’s assisted living communities often offer residents a robust menu of personal care services and activities. However, because the offerings vary so widely, it is critical to do your homework. Rest assured that whether you are searching for yourself or for your parents, we can help you navigate the maze.

List Your Wants and Needs
Start by compiling a list of needs and preferences. A 100% match might be impossible to find, so consider prioritizing the list. If you are doing this for your parents, try using a series of short visits with your parents and siblings to develop the list. Here are some questions to think about:

  • Is it important to be near friends or relatives?
  • Is a small or large community preferred?
  • How much and what type of personal care services are needed?
  • What activities and amenities are of interest?
  • Do you want a community that will allow you to “age in place” by offering a comprehensive range of services that can address additional needs in the future, so you can avoid another move later on?

Do Your Research
Next, compile a list of assisted living communities in the geographic areas you prefer. Look in the phone book, on the Internet, ask people you know you have been through this process, and check with local elderly services organizations. Using your list of needs and wants, narrow your search. Check assisted living community websites and call the places with your questions.

As you conduct your research, consider who owns the community. Are they financially stable, able to invest in the staffing, programming, and capital improvements? Are they experienced operating assisted living facilities? Do they have a good reputation? You should find that a few places rise to the top of the list.

Visit the Communities
The most important part of the decision-making process is visiting the places that match the needs and wants you outlined. It’s a good idea to limit your visits to no more than two communities in one day. As you tour, be prepared with a list of questions. Also take notes so you can remember which places had certain aspects that really impressed or bothered you.

Request an activities calendar and ask about excursions to shopping malls or community events. If possible, have lunch there with some of the current residents. Visit the facilities more than once and at varying times of the day to get a complete feel for the lifestyle at the community. During these visits, talk with staff members and residents.

Make the Right Choice for You
Finally, meet again as a family group to review the choices and rate how they stack up against your checklist. As you compare costs, be sure you understand what the care packages include, what additional fees or costs may be assessed, and what funding options they offer. There is no exact science to choosing an assisted living community, but careful research and informed decisions will help you find a place that you will be glad to call home.

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