October 23, 2014 – Looking for an assisted living community for yourself or a loved one can be an overwhelming process, especially if the search is being done urgently. It is important to know that not all assisted living communities are created equal. It is always a good idea to personally visit several communities in the area to be sure your needs will be met, to get a better idea of what life is like there, and to see how well you are treated as a prospective resident.
Here are some tips as you begin your search:
- Request brochures from your top choices, and visit their web sites. Be sure to ask for pricing information, a copy of the resident handbook, list of services and amenities, and a copy of the resident agreement. Review this information and write down any questions you may have.
- Schedule a tour and take your list of questions with you. Be sure to spend some time in the community and talk with staff and residents to get a better sense of what daily life is like there.
- What is your first impression of the community? Were you greeted immediately? Was the staff member who greeted you friendly? Did the community appear to be clean and well maintained? How did the staff interact with residents?
The size of a community, the services provided and amenities available and the monthly fees can vary widely from one community to the next. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating your options:
Support and Care
If you are searching for assisted living it’s likely because you or a family member wants to remain independent but needs some support in doing so. The care options available should be carefully considered to be sure they provided the support needed, but not too much or too little.
- What are the staffing patterns like throughout the day and in the evening? How many staff members are working and available on each shift?
- Are you allowed to provide your own medication and can you self-administer your own medication?
- What services are included (ie: housekeeping, meals, medication management, laundry)?
Comfort and Lifestyle
An assisted living community provides a certain level of care and support, but it is still your home and you should feel comfortable and happy there.
- Is each suite or apartment private? Does it have a private bath?
- What floor plans are available?
- What furniture is provided? Can you bring your own furniture and personalize the space to your taste and décor?
- What items are not permitted?
- What types of leisure programs, entertainment and social opportunities are offered?
- Are pets permitted?
- Is extra resident storage provided or available?
- What extra amenities are available (ie: pool, fitness center, bank, restaurant, library, beauty/barber shop)?
- Is transportation to doctors’ appointments provided? Is there an errand shuttle?
- Is smoking permitted by residents, staff, or visitors?
Few subsidies are available for assisted living, meaning most people will private-pay for this level of care, so it’s important to understand exactly what costs are associated with this level of care.
- Is there a community fee or buy-in fee?
- What are the monthly rates?
- What services and amenities are included in the monthly rates?
- How often do rates change?
- How does the billing process work?
- Do they accept the Medicaid Waiver? Are any subsidies available?
- What happens if/when I no longer have the financial resources to pay?
Once you have visited several communities, compare them to be sure you get the services that you need and the lifestyle you prefer at the price you are willing to pay.
Copyright 2014© Carroll Lutheran Village
Kelly Anderson is the Admissions Coordinator for the assisted living Diven House and the skilled nursing Health Care Center at Carroll Lutheran Village, a continuing care retirement community in Westminster, MD.