Once you have decided that assisted living is the right thing for you (or it has been strongly recommended by family members or a doctor), the next step is trying to find the right assisted living facility or community.
It is important to note that assisted living actually has a couple of other names: residential care, board and care, congregate care, adult care home, adult group home, alternative care facility, sheltered housing. It is also important to remember, “Each state has its own specific licensing requirements for assisted living, so you’ll want to check in your state to see what services can be provided” (Helpguide.org).
The Assisted Living Federation of America suggests following nine steps to help you find the right assisted living facility for you or your loved one:
1. Analyze what you know and don’t know about assisted living. Ask yourself:
a. What do I really know about the different senior living care options?
b. What do I need to know?
c. What’s the best way to get accurate, objective information?
d. How would I like to describe my personal successful outcomes a year after move-in?
e. Can I afford to live at the community both now and in the future?
f. Can I make the important distinction between price and value?
2. Realize that your decision involves three key issues:
a. Quality of life
b. Standard of care
c. Cost and value
3. Define and Seek out your goals for High Quality of Life
a. Comfort and peace of mind
b. Affordability and financial security
c. Quality and value
d. Very high standards of care
e. Optimized independence
g. Experience and adventures
h. Individual recognition
i. Intellectual stimulation
j. Self-expression and fulfillment
4. Set your priorities for Standards of Care
Make sure you get the answers to the following questions:
a. How will you respond if my loved one has a medical emergency?
b. How will you continuously monitor my loved one’s condition without invading her privacy?
c. How will you monitor and deal with the possibility that my loved one’s condition may change?
d. What are your staffing arrangements to ensure that 24/7 care is available to my loved one?
e. How much time in a 24-hour day will my loved one receive direct, hands-on assistance?
5. Find a balance between affordability, price and value. Remember the adage “you get what you pay for”. However, there are some smaller, less expensive facilities that provide very good care, and often more personalized care than some of the bigger facilities.
6. Evaluate price versus value
7. Balance first impressions with reality
8. Get objective feedback and opinions
9. Anticipate that adjustments to care and cost may be necessary in the future.
For more help, please use the Assisted Living Federation of America’s Guide to Choosing an Assisted Living Community, which offers a checklist to help you make the best decision for you or your loved one.
Assisted Living Federation of America (http://www.alfa.org/alfa/Choosing_a_Community.asp?SnID=523461005)