How to Find the Right Assisted Living Facility for a Loved One

At some point, most elderly individuals reach a point in their retirement where living alone is no longer the most desirable option. Whether it’s for physical health needs or the desire to remain social, assisted living becomes an attractive alternative. As an adult child of someone in this stage of life, it can be helpful to guide your parent through the process of choosing the ideal facility for their circumstances.

What to Consider in an Assisted Living Facility

For elderly individuals who are still somewhat healthy and mobile, assisted living provides a socialized environment that’s healthy, safe, and convenient. But with so many different facilities in your area, it’s important that you perform adequate due diligence and thoughtful research to zero in on the one that’s best for your parent. Here are some of the specific things to do/consider:

1. Make a Shortlist

Depending on the location, there may be as many as two- or three-dozen assisted living facilities within a very short radius. With so many to choose from, it’s impractical to tour each facility and conduct thorough due diligence on each one. Instead, it’s best to whittle down the options to a shortlist.

An online resource like Seniorly provides a good starting point. Their free search feature allows users to find assisted living nearby. It offers information about amenities, price estimates, and, in some cases, ratings and reviews from current and past residents.

Try making a list of three to five options that satisfy specific criteria and use these to guide the search and evaluation process.

2. Tour Facilities

While a lot of information can be gathered online, nothing replaces seeing a facility in person. So with the search narrowed down to a handful of options, it’s time to tour facilities.

Seeing a facility in person provides a realistic feel for what each assisted living facility is actually like. It allows feeling, smell, hearing, and seeing the different amenities and offerings. If something doesn’t add up, it’ll become immediately apparent. If a facility is the right fit, it’ll start to feel like home.

3. Ask the Right Questions

A tour also provides an excellent opportunity to ask questions and gather information and feedback from the staff. Consumer Reports suggests asking five key questions:

  • What kind of help is offered? (For example, is there help with medical needs, memory care, etc.?)
  • What is the quality of care? (Is there a registered nurse on staff? What is the facility’s complaint record?)
  • What are the actual costs of care? (When it comes to add-on fees and optional services, how much does the facility realistically cost?)
  • Can residents age in place? (In other words, as health needs change, do patients face involuntary discharge? Or can they continue to age and received increased care and assistance?)
  • Does each resident have an advocate? (When loved ones are unable to drop by for a few days or weeks at a time, it’s important that someone is keeping a close eye on each resident.)

These questions are just starting points, but they open the door for conversation. The answers will reveal information that’s valuable in the search for the appropriate facility.

4. Consider Location

Location is a big factor for both parent and adult child. On the parent side of things, a convenient location will allow them to retain as much normalcy and familiarity as possible. If able, the resident can continue to attend a local church, bridge club, or other social gathering. But on the adult child’s side of things, it’s important to think about proximity. To a large degree, location will determine how often visits can be made.

Adding it All Up

At the end of the day, the right assisted living facility can be a blessing for both the parent and adult child. It provides the optimal blend of independence and assisted caregiving in a community setting that’s conducive to socialization and one-on-one engagement. But with so many different facilities around the country, it’s important to find the right one.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.