Sometimes, it becomes difficult and in some cases, almost impossible, for seniors to lead an independent life. This may either be because of certain health conditions or simply because of the complexities that come with advanced age. Today, it is estimated that there are at least 39, 500 assisted living facilities in the U.S.
How do you know where to begin the process? According to experts, planning in advance is the very first step in choosing the best-assisted living facility for a senior.
In fact, it is advised that the move to an assisted living facility is planned at least 6 months in advance. Planning ahead greatly improves the chances of getting the most suitable and the most affordable assisted living facility for a senior.
However, aside from planning ahead, there are several other issues that should be considered before finally choosing an assisted living facility for a senior.
Does he/she Really Need Assisted Living?
The very first question that should be addressed concerns whether or not the senior in question really needs the services of an assisted living facility. It may not be necessary for a senior to leave home and get into an assisted living facility if they are really not up for it. It may also not be advisable to enroll a senior who doesn’t require much assistance in an assisted living facility.
In that case at home health care may be an option. Truth be told, it might actually be better to keep them at home. Many seniors stay happier at home vs moving to a new strange place. However, seniors who are experiencing a steady decline in their health and functionality would definitely benefit from assisted living facilities.
Next, it is important to compile a list of all the potential assisted living facilities that could be appropriate for the senior in question. There are numerous ways to do this. Firstly, there is the option of seeking the advice of a geriatric-care expert within the targeted geographical area. Such an expert would have valuable information regarding all the facilities within a specific area.
Secondly, there is the option of doing an online search. There are numerous websites that are dedicated to helping people find the best assisted living facilities for their loved ones. These include the CareLike website, a Place for Mom, and the Aging Life Care Association website.
Having a list of facilities is however not enough. It is essential to make several visits to the facilities. These visits should be made in the presence of the senior as well.
Some of the things that are worth looking out for during these visits include the décor, the safety features in the facility, the flooring materials used, the cleanliness of the facility and even the quality of food that the facility serves.
Check for any red flags
While most facilities make a good first impression, some do not really live up to expectations. To avoid the disappointment that comes with realizing that a facility was not as good as previously thought, it is essential to pay attention to any red flags that may pop up. The red flag may be in the form of the willingness of the facility to part with vital information or even in the way that the staff and the residents of the facility interact. A good way of checking for any red flags is to make multiple unannounced visits to the facility in question. As they say, where there is smoke, there is fire; one red flag could, therefore, mean an even greater possibility of more problems/more worrying issues.
Consider the monthly costs and additional fees
The cost of the assisted living facility is yet another important determining factor. The assisted living facility chosen should be within the budget that has been set. Some facilities have the habit of hiding some costs while others have different procedures when it comes to refund clients. Seniors who need more help may find themselves paying more than others. Unfortunately, the cost of assisted living seems to be on a gradual increase. In 2003, the monthly base rate stood at $2, 379. By 2014 however, that figure had soared to $3, 550 and predicted to continue to rise.
In addition to all the above, people wishing to enroll their loved ones into assisted living facilities also ought to consider scouting for any complaints that may have been filed against the facility in question. Information on the kind of complaints filed as well as how the complaints were addressed and solved can be obtained from the long-term-care ombudsman of the state that the facility is in. Even the contract itself should be reviewed by an attorney before any signature is appended to it. One of the best places to get attorneys specializing in issues pertaining to the care of the elderly is on the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys website.