Smart Questions About Assisted Living
For families seeking assisted living for a loved one, there are ways to find a facility that delivers quality care in a comfortable setting. Start by asking these five key questions about assisted living:
1. What Kind of Help Do You Need For Assisted Living?
It’s a good idea to have your family member evaluated by a physician to have a better understanding of the level of care required and how that might change.
That way, you can judge whether the facility will meet your loved one’s needs over the long term, or if they might need memory care.
Perhaps your loved one will benefit from more social interaction or will require more medical care or help with memory loss. Different facilities offer varying levels of care—not all have memory units, for example.
The social activities vary as well, so check to see whether the book clubs or trips to the symphony fit in with your loved one’s interests.
Once you know what to look for, you can begin researching assisted living facilities and know what questions about assisted living to ask.
2. What Is the Quality of Care At The Retirement Community?
Check into the residence’s licensing and inspection records to see whether there are reasons for concern. Depending on your state, you may find this data online.
You can also contact your state ombudsman about the facility’s complaint record. (Go to ltcombudsman.org; use the map tool to find links for your state.)
You should also ask whether the facility has a registered nurse on staff.
To get a feel for the quality of life, make multiple visits to the facility. Go for meals and during the weekends, when fewer staff are on duty. And speak with residents and their families about their experiences.
3. What Are the Real Costs of Care For Assisted Living?
As noted above, the typical assisted living cost of care is high. And add-on fees could push these costs even higher, which will stretch, or exceed, many retirees’ budgets.
Be sure to get a written list of fees and charges from the residence, and check to see that they’re included in the contract. While some facilities have all-in costs for room, board, and a particular level of care, others have a point system or charge à la carte.
Find out which circumstances might lead to more fees, such as needing help walking to meals or falling ill for a week or so.
Given the high costs involved.
It can be a prudent move to hire an elder law attorney who is familiar with local facilities to review the terms of the contract.
4. Can Your Loved One Age in Assisted Living Community?
One of the biggest risks for assisted living residents is that their health needs may change, requiring care that exceeds the facility’s ability to provide service—perhaps a cognitive decline or lack of mobility.
In this situation, moving to a different facility may be the best option. If this move is not planned in advance, the resident could face an involuntary discharge or eviction.
Find out ahead of time what situations might trigger a discharge and whether you could hire private aides if more care is needed—in some cases, the resident may be able to stay in place with additional help.
Some nonprofit facilities, for example, may help a resident running low on funds to qualify for Medicaid, which could pay for nursing home care or funds that may help your loved one stay in place.
5. Will Your Family Member Have an Advocate While In Assisted Living Home?
Once you’ve found a residence for your loved one, it’s important to have family and friends drop by regularly.
That way, you will be able to spot any lapses in care quickly, which is especially important if your family member is ill or confused and cannot advocate for him or herself.
If you or your family are not able to visit regularly, consider hiring a caregiver, or asking a friend living nearby, to check in on your family member. Spotting issues early may help prevent more costly problems later.
And if the assisted living management knows you’re keeping a close eye on your loved one, that can help to ensure the quality of care.
We hope that these 5 questions are helpful to you in your search for the best assisted living home for your loved one. Choosing the best retirement community for your loved one can be a difficult thing.
But we are here to help you, and we will refer you to the best home or community for your loved one, and you will know what questions about assisted living to ask.