Assisted living is an eventuality many families face sooner or later. Selecting the right place for your loved one is never a choice to be made lightly. We've put together some essential topics for you to consider when making the decision.
Chances are, you're reading this because you're an older adult and a member of the sandwich generation. In other words, you're tasked with caring for your children, your aging parents, and maybe even taking on some of the duties of raising your grandchildren! Add all that to a career and social obligations, and you've got one full plate!
If you're asking yourself, "How do I choose an assisted living community?" or "Should my loved one transition from independent living?", we're here to help. Check out these five key items to consider when choosing an assisted living community.
1. Location Is Everything!
Naturally, you need to keep your loved one as close as possible. This will make visits easy and be helpful when arranging transportation to family events. Look first at the assisted living communities within a 40-minute drive. Spending close to two hours on drive time will significantly reduce your ability to schedule meaningful visits.
Think about other family members as well. Is this home in a good location for other family members to visit?
If you're torn between two facilities that are the same distance away, consider the location itself. Ask yourself:
- Is it in a safe neighborhood? If your family member has Alzheimer's or dementia, what would happen if they "escaped"?
- What's the traffic like on holidays?
- How close is this home to your parent's preferred hospital or primary doctor?
- Is access to a place of worship important to your parent? Will they be able to attend the ceremonies that matter to them?
2. The Size of a Community Matters.
Pick a senior care community that will be a good fit for your parent. Your loved one might prefer a small home with just a few other seniors and a small staff.
Your family member may benefit most from a one-on-one situation with access to close, personalized care.
Tour the assisted living community and consider the amenities offered, such as:
- Recreation rooms
- In-house salons, barbers or other hygiene professionals on staff
- Restaurant-style dining facilities
Know that access to quality nutrition programs, tasty meals, and social opportunities will have a tremendous impact on your loved one's satisfaction with their new living arrangements. Nothing will "turn off" a senior faster than bad food in a secluded setting!
3. Which Services Matter to You?
When transitioning to assisted living, you'll find certain services invaluable to your family member and yourself. Look for an organization that places individual service high on the list of priorities. Beyond a close, personal relationship with staffers, you might look for a home that offers:
- Transportation to worship every weekend and every major religious holiday
- Transportation to doctor appointments
- A full staff of fully trained registered nurses
- Access to physical therapists and fun physical activities all year long, not only during good weather
- Counseling services, for your loved one's peace of mind
- Financial counseling and services to help pay bills
Also, ask about the transition to higher care when needed. Choose a senior living community, or assisted living facility, that works closely with skilled nursing homes, so you'll be prepared for that eventuality.
Make sure that care needs are met with the proper level of care in the community. Ask as many questions as you need about living options and their transition process from assisted living to memory care. Don't hesitate to ask about assistance with personal care or daily tasks.
4. Cost as a Consideration - Mitigating the Cost of Assisted Living
If you're in a situation where money is no object, congratulations! Though for most, this is not the reality. Most caregivers will need to figure out how to pay for assisted living arrangements. And like most other things, you get what you pay for.
When choosing an assisted living community, get the very best you can afford. We know it's difficult to put a price on the care and well-being of your parent, but you'll sleep better at night knowing you're doing the best you can.
Many of the services provided by an assisted living community to meet your loved one's specific needs are well worth the investment! For instance, consider the time and money you'll save not having to provide transportation to every single doctor's appointment.
You'll also save money on groceries and utilities if your family member has been living with you before transitioning into assisted living. While these are small savings, they do add up, and you will notice the difference!
You'll have more free time, and significantly less stress, once the full-time care of your aging parent is in the hands of professionals!
5. Culture Is Crucial to Your Parent's Happiness.
Finally, choose an assisted living community that allows plenty of social opportunities and outings for the residents. Your parent should be able to make meaningful friendships and social relationships with other seniors and staff. It will make their time at their new home so enjoyable! You'll feel good about your choice in a community when your parent is thrilled to be there.
Look for communities that provide:
- Social meal times with fun events
- Opportunities to spend relaxing time with others in a "rec room" setting
- Outdoor benches, gazebos, and picnic tables for close discussions during good weather
Ultimately, the best way to gauge your parent's potential quality of life is to take a look at the residents around them. Do they seem engaged and happy? Are they involved with crafts or physical activities to keep motivated and challenged? The only way to do this is to spend some time visiting the communities in person.
We think this US News article says it best: "You can't really know what it's like to live in an assisted living community until you do it. But you can get a very telling taste if you visit your potential options first." That's why it's so important to schedule a tour and visit.
In our modern age, it's too easy for folks to do an internet search and make a choice quickly without doing much research. You're much better off spending some time there, sampling their meals, and meeting the staff in person.
- If you toured a community and noticed the seniors are listless or seem lonely, you should avoid that place.
Here at Weatherly Inn, we know the decision to place your loved one in an assisted living community is never a choice to make lightly. We are a small, locally owned and operated senior living community. Our mission is to preserve the dignity of seniors and enhance their experience by providing exceptional quality in everything we do.
If you'd like to learn more about our assisted living communities in Tacoma and Kent, contact us today. Our consistent, caring staff is ready to be there for your family. We'd love to show you around!