Choosing an Assisted Living Facility that is Right for Your Loved One

Thursday, May 31, 2012

woman_with_daughterMoving a loved one to a care facility is not an easy decision to make.  There are so many options, it can seem almost impossible to know where to start, especially when you are looking at assisted living facilities.  Assisted living facilities offer much more independence than skilled nursing facilities, so you want to ensure that the transition is as painless as possible.  To do this, there are some specific things that you should consider:

What activities bring the most joy to your loved one’s life?
Perhaps frequent contact with family and friends is the most important to your loved one.  Other important factors may be the location of places of worship, parks, hospitals and doctors.  You do not want to choose a facility that deprives your loved one of the things he or she most enjoys.  It is important that they stay connected with doctors, clubs or committees, family, and friends.

Consider the immediate needs of the senior and the potential future needs.
This may involve a direct conversation with your loved one’s doctor.  You not only want to choose a facility that can accommodate the current needs of the individual, but also the needs of the individual if his or her health begins to deteriorate.  If the senior has specific diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or cancer, it is imperative that you choose a facility that can provide the necessary care and has well-trained staff to assist with your loved one’s particular needs.

Do your research.
The most productive research you can do when considering which assisted living facility to choose is to ask other families who have already moved a loved one.  When you visit the different facilities, go to the community areas where family members visit their loved ones.  Ask the family members and the senior to give you the pros and cons of the facility.  You will find that people are often eager to share their opinions when it comes to the care that is or is not being provided.

You should also read online reviews about the facilities.  Gilbert Guide lists the assisted living facilities in Ohio.  Online research may also inform you if the facility is licensed, if Medicaid is accepted, the financial stability of the facility, the ratio of workers to residents, etc.

Ask about a waiting list.
The last thing you want to do is assume that the facility will have a room available when your loved one needs one.  Most facilities do have a waiting list.  It is best to take proactive approaches before your loved one needs an immediate transition to an assisted living facility.  The waiting lists can be three months, up to a year long, or even longer.  Ask what must be done to get on the waiting list and what is needed upon placement in the facility (security deposits, medical exams, medical reports).

Visit multiple facilities and visit more than once.
You may find things at one facility that you really like and had not thought about before.  The more facilities you visit, the more educated you will become.  When you find a facility that best suits your loved one, visit it at least two or three times, both during the day and at night.  Speak to the staff and ask them questions.  You may want to ask the following questions:

  • How often does the facility have outings?
  • What activities do they provide for the residents?
  • What type of community gatherings do they have?
  • How often is a physician on staff?
  • What type of transportation does the facility provide and how often?

These are all important questions that you should know the answers to.

The Ohio Department of Aging published a Consumer’s Guide entitled Understanding the Assisted Living Waiver Program.  While this publication is intended to inform consumers of the Assisted Living Medicaid Waiver program, it contains some very specific information that you should know before moving your loved one to a facility.

Review the contract beforehand.
Do not sit in the business office of the facility moments before moving your loved one and quickly go over the contract with the business manager before signing it.  Take the contract home ahead of time.  Make notes of the specific concerns or questions you have so you can thoroughly go over everything with the business manager.  It may even behoove you and your loved one to have an attorney review the contract before you sign it, specifically an elder law attorney.  To locate a Certified Elder Law Attorney near you, visit the National Elder Law Foundation website.

- Posted by Mary Kastelic

 

 

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