assisted living

Tips for Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

You’ve decided it’s time to move your parent into an assisted living facility, a happy medium between independent living and a nursing home. They’ll get help with daily activities, be part of a community of peers, and retain some privacy and independence, but they’ll also have peace of mind knowing help is only a call away. It might have been a tough choice to make, but you know it’s the right one.
Now it’s your job to find the perfect place that will ensure your senior loved one is safe, happy, and comfortable. Here are some tips to help you choose the right assisted living facility for the senior in your life.

Involve your senior

It can be tempting to choose the place you like best, but remember, you’re not the one living there. Discuss with your senior loved one their wants, needs, and preferences, and get them involved in the search and decision-making process. It’s important that the assisted living facility feels homey and comfortable to them. It’s all about personal preference. Would they rather be in a large facility with lots of people to socialize with and activities to participate in, or a smaller, cozier environment? If they’re not able to participate in the decision-making process, be sure to consider their personality and preferences instead of your own.

Visit

You won’t be able to find out everything you need to know from a brochure. Plan an in-person visit and tour around lunchtime or for an activity or event. This will allow you to see the culture and community at the facility, when the residents are out and about. While you’re there, pay attention to how well the facility is taken care of. Once you get a sense of the place, it’s easier to go with your intuition about which facility feels right.

Look at the amenities

Laundry, transportation services, 24-hour staff assistance, housekeeping, outdoor spaces, common areas – most assisted living facilities offer these amenities. Instead of looking for the facility with the best or most amenities, look for the one that matches your seniors’ needs. What good is gym if Dad can’t move around so easy anymore? But a library, on the other hand, might be more important to him. Whether there is a shared bathroom or private one in each room, is it handicapped-equipped? Whether rooms are private or shared, is there enough storage space?

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Just because a facility is pricey and fancy doesn’t mean it offers the best care. Yes, you want to get a feel for the cleanliness, atmosphere, and facilities when you take a tour, but don’t get distracted by appearances. The fanciest place doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where your parent will be happiest. It’s more important to pay attention to the people during your visit. Are the staff caring and friendly? Are the residents happy? Do they seem like people your parent would like to get to know?

Check out activities and events

Most assisted living facilities offer activities for their residents to participate in. They are fun, give the residents something to do, and help the community come together and socialize. Have a look at the scheduled activities. Would your loved ones be interested in them? Are there outings? If it’s important to your loved one, are there religious services? Try to schedule your visit to coincide with activities and events, and see if they are well attended.

Try the food

Nutrition is important for health, especially as we age. So if your parent hates the food, that’s a problem. Ask if you can sample a meal at the facility. This will give you a chance to see what mealtime is like and if the other residents seem to enjoy the food. Make sure the food is nutritious and appetizing, and ask all your food-related questions. How many meals a day are provided and at what times? Are there different food options that cater to specific dietary needs? Can residents bring food back to their room or cook their own food if they have a kitchenette? Can visitors join residents for meals or in a private room for family events?

Get reviews and feedback

In addition to talking to the residents and their families when you visit, look online for ratings and reviews. Talk to friends who have already gone through the process. Ask for their honest opinions. You might even consider consulting with a senior advocate or geriatric care manager. This type of experienced professional can make the decision much easier.

Consider the cost

Realistically, money will likely be a determining factor in choosing a facility. However, as we’ve mentioned above, pricier doesn’t mean better. Different facilities have different price structures, and the cost will likely depend on your senior loved one’s personal needs, so it it’s important to get a clear answer from the staff. Make sure you know what’s included and what’s extra. Room and board might be a flat rate, but there might be an additional charge for services like laundry, transportation to appointments, medication management, bathing assistance and meal delivery. Does the price depend on how much care a resident requires? Make sure you understand the billing and payment, and get a sense of how rates have gone up in the past.

Feel confident about the care

To know you’re making the right choice, you need to feel comfortable with the health care provided and know your senior loved one feels safe and secure. How is the care plan developed? Are the staff well trained? How are emergencies handled? Is there 24/7 nurse staff? Be realistic about both current and future health care needs. Make sure the facility you choose is equipped to handle your parent’s needs now and as they age, so they don’t need to move again soon. This will give both you and your senior loved one peace of mind.

Location isn’t everything

Sorry to say it, but convenience for you shouldn’t the top priority when choosing an assisted living facility for your parent. You should choose the facility that best suits their needs, not one that is 10 minutes closer to you. Sure, you may say that if it’s closer you’ll visit more, but that’s usually an unrealistic expectation. Plus, if your parent is happy, has made friends, and is busy doing activities, you won’t need to visit every day.

13 thoughts on “Tips for Choosing an Assisted Living Facility”

  1. It is good to know that one should try the food at an assisted living facility before committing to their service. I like what was said about how nutrition is important for health, especially in a person’s older years. It would also be good to tour the facility before hand to ensure that the assisted living center is sanitary enough for your loved one’s needs.

  2. My parents are getting older and I was wondering if they should move into a community where they would be surrounded by others in a similar stage of their life. You wrote that when choosing a facility, you should make sure to involve your senior in the decision process and ask them what kind of place would best suite them. I know my father loves spending time outside, so having nice scenery will definitely be a must.

    1. Hi Rachel, it would be great to create a partnership with BookJane. Let us know if you are interested.

  3. I’m glad you mention looking into the events and activities offered by the assisted living facilities so you can make sure your loved one will be interested in them. This could be important to ensure they’re able to socialize and enjoy their time with the community. In order to do this, you’d probably want to check out their website as well as meet with the staff so you can talk to them about the activities and maybe even visit them during an even so you can see for yourself if the assisted living facility is a good match for your loved one.

  4. My grandmother is needing a little more help in her day to day living, and we would like to find an assisted living place for her. It’s good to know that when it comes to choosing the right one for her that one thing we need to do is look at the different amenities. I like the idea of finding one that matches all of the things she would enjoy; like laundry, transportation, and a private bathroom. This is something that we will keep in mind when we start looking.

  5. I like how you say that you would want to find an assisted living facility that has good online reviews. It would make sense to find something that is liked by the current residents as well. My mom has been needing extra care since my dad passed away, so we’ll have to find a nursing home for her that is well liked.

  6. My grandma had health issues, and we wanted to find the right place that she could get the care that she needs. I really like that you say to check and see that the staff are caring and friendly. I know that I would want my grandma to get all of the care that she can get.

    1. Hi Frank, thanks for your response. All of our caregivers go through rigorous training and we ensure our customers meet them or even interview them. Thanks again.

  7. I totally agree with you in that it is a good idea to tour an assisted living facility to see how the residents are treated and what the community looks like. It is important to remember that taking the time to do a proper search and compare several locations can help you find the best facility for your loved one. We are thinking about putting my mom in an assisted living facility to help her get around in her old age, so I’m glad I found your post.

  8. My mother has explicitly told me that when the time comes she wants to live in an assisted living facility. Well she is getting to the point where she needs people surrounding her and there is no room at my house so I am trying to find her a place. You mentioned that it is important to consider the amenities that they provide such as laundry, housekeeping, outdoor space, etc. That is a great point for me to keep in mind while I look for a place that she can move into.

  9. Thank you so much for your suggestions! I am transitioning to moving my mother into an assisted living community and I want to make sure we choose the right community for her. I like how you suggested to try the food ahead of time. With her diabetes it is important she’s getting the right nutrition!

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