All assisted living residences are aimed at allowing individuals to remain as independent as possible while also giving some sense of assurance that assistance will be available when it is necessary. A combination of meals, personal care, social activities, support, supervision, and health related services is usually provided by an assisted living facility. For those individuals who do not need nursing care but are not capable of living on their own, assisted living may be the most appropriate choice.
It is important to remember when going through this selection process that there is no standard associated with assisted living residences. These residences may present differently in terms of cost, appearance, and the services offered. Finding the right facilities can begin by looking at resources such as:
- Yellow pages
- Retirement guides
- The state licensing agency
- The local or state area agency on aging
- Friends and neighbors
- The elder care locator
- The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
Making a phone call is usually the next step after identifying facilities that may be an appropriate fit. The job of the sales or marketing representative on the phone should be to promote the residence. The initial conversation can tell you a lot about whether this is the right fit for a loved one.
Ask for further information to be sent out in the mail after this initial conversation, including details like a floor plan or a map, a copy of the residents’ rules and rights, a price list, and the general brochure. The phone call should not be where a search for an assisted living facility stops, however. It should always be followed up by an in person-visit. It is essential that the loved one be involved in any of the choices about his or her care, but it is equally as important that every invested family member visit the facility in person as well. This not only helps to make the transition easier, but it becomes more possible to visualize the loved one inside the facility.
Bear in mind that all questions should be answered before signing a contract for an assisted living facility. The contract for an assisted living arrangement is a legal document, and as such, it should be very specific as it helps to protect the loved one. All information listed in the sales brochure should be compared with the terms in the contract, including details about healthcare services, the level of care, fees, and discharge policies. Having an attorney review the contract can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page before signing.
Assisted Living Basics
Making the decision to place a loved one in assisted living is never an easy one, but it can also be the most beneficial choice for a loved one. In the event that a loved one is struggling on a daily basis, and having more difficulty with activities like dressing, running errands, showering or getting around the house, an assisted living facility may be the appropriate answer.
A loved one will be able to get the daily support they need while also maintaining some level of independence. A growing number of individuals are as concerned about aging as independently as possible. Making the decision to help a loved one leave their home and move into an assisted living facility can be challenging. Nonetheless, it is also beneficial to take the time to identify the appropriate facility for a loved one to make the transition process as easy as possible.
Basics of Assisted Living
An assisted living facility is a residential location where seniors live in order to receive help for some of the activities of their daily living, such as keeping house, cooking meals, and travelling to their appointments.
Assisted living may also be referred to as congregate care, boarding care, residential care, an alternative care facility, or an adult group home. An assisted living facility may be the appropriate choice if a loved one needs personal care services that they are not capable of receiving at home, but they also do not need the around-the-clock supervision and medical care afforded by a nursing home. An assisted living facility provides some level of independence while also having the security and safety of 24-hour support and care access if necessary. Independence and privacy are strongly encouraged in the majority of assisted living facilities.
A comprehensive facility will help to develop a plan that meets the senior’s individual needs and accommodates any necessary disabilities or other issues, while also giving the senior the independence to do what they need to do for themselves. Some of the services at a typical assisted living facility include:
- Round the clock security
- Medication management
- Wellness and exercise programs
- Assistance with bathing, dressing, eating and walking
- Three meals served a day in a common area
- Recreational activities
Questions to Ask in Order to Determine if an Assisted Living Facility is the Next Right Step
If family members are trying to determine what is the right step for a loved one, ask the following questions.
- Does the family member need more help than friends and family are currently able to provide?
- Does the senior feel isolated or lonely at home?
- Do family members worry about the safety of the loved one?
- Is transportation an ongoing concern?
Choosing the Right Assisted Living Facility for a Loved One
There is tremendous variation between assisted living facilities in every region and in every state. Although this can make the process of choosing the right location seem overwhelming or even daunting, the good news is that there is a good chance of finding a facility that is aligned specifically with the needs and preferences of a loved one. As the search begins, try not to get overwhelmed by all of the options, and be aware that a loved one may feel overwhelmed by all of these choices as well.
Amenities are frequently much less important than the staff and the residents at the potential assisted living facility. The people a particular facility can make a tremendous difference. An active social atmosphere will allow a loved one to have a better transition into an assisted living facility. Visiting the facility in person is one of the most important things to do.
What to Look for in Staffing Patterns
In order to have confidence and peace of mind that a loved one will be taken care of appropriately, it is critical to ask questions about the workload and staffing levels at any assisted living facility. Some of the best questions to ask include:
- How many staff members are working at any one time?
- What are the duties of a staff member during his or her typical shift?
- Are registered nurses located on site?
- How many staff members are involved directly with resident care?
- How are staffing patterns changed overnight, if at all?
Visit the facility at several different times in order to get a reasonable expectation of what can be expected. Coming during activities and mealtimes can help to identify what things might actually be like if a loved one was placed in this facility. Keep an eye out for whether the residents are interacting with one another and appear to be happy. Look for materials about groups and hobbies on site that could appeal to a loved one. It is also important to identify whether or not the facility is clean and fresh and whether or not housekeeping is provided. These are not the only things that should be kept in mind when visiting an assisted living facility, however.
The facility should offer activities that a loved one is interested in, and the facility should also have food that is appealing to a loved one. The facility should also be in compliance with all local and state licensing requirements, and it should be clearly documented how health problems at the facility are handled.
Assisted living is considered as an intermediate option between nursing home care and independent living. If a loved one only needs minimal support and assistance, independent living may be the more appropriate choice. For more extensive medical needs, a nursing home may be the better choice.
How to Properly Support a Loved One Making the Move to Assisted Living
Even if all parties are in agreement that moving to assisted living is the right thing for the loved one at the time, the move can still be stressful and overwhelming. There are several different things that all family members can do to help support a loved one during this difficult transition. These include:
- Visit and call as frequently as possible. Regular contact from family and friends will help reassure the loved one that their life is still important and that they are cared for and loved. Regularly include the family member in outings and events where appropriate.
- Address concerns together. There is no doubt that the period of adjustment immediately after moving into a nursing home can be an important one. Make sure that you do not write off a complaint as part of the overall transition process, however. If there are a loved one is raising legitimate concerns, make sure to take them seriously and discuss options about what you can do together in order to resolve this issue. If one problem continues over the course of time and appears to have no solution, it is a good opportunity to look at other facilities if necessary.
Some of the most important things you can do as a loved one transitions to assisted living are actually things that should be avoided. These are several of the common behaviors that people engage in during this difficult time that can actually do more harm than good. These include:
- Being negative about the facility or the move
- Make any promises that family members cannot actually keep
- Talk immediately about selling the resident’s house or disposing of their possessions
- Criticize the decision to opt for assisted living
- Make all the decisions involving packing, sorting, or the moving process
Making the Transition to Assisted Living Easier
There are several different things that everyone can do in order to make the transition to assisted living an easier one for a senior, including:
- Knowing what to expect by doing the homework on the facility ahead of time
- Packing well in advance of the actual move
- Keeping the senior busy by encouraging them to participate in activities, meet residents, and explore the facility as soon as possible after they move in
The right assisted living facility can make a big impact on the senior’s ability to adjust to their new living arrangements.
Paying for and Planning for an Assisted Living Facility
Cost is frequently one of the biggest considerations for any family that is contemplating moving a loved one into assisted living. The majority of the cost associated with assisted living may come out of the pocket of the senior being cared for or his or her family members.
Since assisted living facilities are owned by both nonprofit and for profit organizations, they can range in costs significantly from around $800 a month to upwards of $4,000 a month, depending on the geographic area and amenities offered. Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living, although there are situations where Medicaid may provide a limited benefit. When evaluating the cost of any assisted living facility, make sure that all family members understand how the facility bills, such as whether or not there is a flat fee or whether any additional services mean higher costs on a monthly basis. Furthermore, understand how the facility makes decisions about rate increases.
Finally, as family members, never make the assumption that a more expensive assisted living facility always necessarily means better. Choosing the right assisted living facility is all about determining what is most appropriate for the loved one at the current place and time and also allow them to gain a sense of confidence and peace when visiting the facility. This is one of the most important decisions that can be made about caring for an elderly loved one who has some needs but does not require the round the clock care provided by a nursing home. Do not take this decision lightly, and make sure to include the senior whenever possible.
Planning and Research Will Pay Off for a Loved One
Assisted living comes at a time of great transition for a loved one who needs assistance. However, this time can be made easier by doing all the right research in terms of selecting an assisted living facility. Family members should all be involved in this critical process from the outset. The right facility should be an ideal mix of all the above-mentioned factors, and the loved one should also feel safe and comfortable there. Making a move to an assisted living facility represents a lot of change, and one of the most important things that can be done to make this transition easier and smoother for a loved one is to ensure the person moving there is actually comfortable with it.
Doing the research and visiting the facility in person is the best way to gauge whether or not a loved one would be comfortable in such an environment. Giving the right amount of space and care surrounding a loved one’s choices can go a long way towards identifying an environment that truly supports a loved one. Contact Cobbdale Assisted Living for more information.