Factors To Consider When Choosing An Assisted Living Facility

Sep 21, 2021 | Elder Law, General

When considering an assisted living facility for yourself or someone you love, there are so many choices that it can often feel overwhelming. You want to ensure the best care, services, and amenities essential for maintaining quality of life, but how exactly do you quantify that in your search? There are different levels of assisted living facilities, and regulations vary by state. There is residential living, skilled nursing, assisted living and rehabilitation, and memory care centers, and while many services overlap between them, each specializes in a particular area.

Services differ from state to state. Depending on whether you are looking for help with day-to-day tasks or need to find a facility focused on independence will be a significant factor in determining the best place for you or your loved one. Today, we will take a look at some of the crucial factors to consider and questions to ask when choosing a long-term assisted living facility.

Supportive Staffing

One of the most important aspects of an assisted living facility is the quality and experience of the staff. It is a good sign when there is a minimal turnover of caregivers and administrative personnel. Compassionate, well-trained caregivers are essential to residents receiving proper care, and skilled administrators are incredibly important for communicating complications or progress improvements to loved ones and medical personnel. Some key questions are: What is the resident-to-staff ratio? What type of training and experience is your staff required to have? What training does your staff receive? What is the turnover rate of your team? How many staff members are on overnight and during the day, and are they able to meet the needs of the residents, whether scheduled or unscheduled? Is there a doctor, registered nurse, or nurse’s assistant on staff or on-call in case of an emergency 24/7? Depending on the level of care needed, 24-hour assistance for activities of daily living to help with dressing, bathing, hygiene, grooming, toilet assistance, shopping, and laundry may be necessary.

Different Types Of Residential Living Spaces 

Assisted living facilities offer a variety of living spaces depending on the type of facility you choose. Residential facilities will offer full-size apartments, while assisted living and memory care centers will provide a private studio, shared room, or smaller one-bedroom apartments. The cost will vary from place to place. An important feature is making sure the apartment/studio will accommodate a person with mobility issues if necessary. Depending on the facility, some provide furnishings, and some do not. It is important to also check if the living space has a kitchen with a stove, sink, and refrigerator. Not all facilities allow you to personalize the living space, so ask before signing an agreement. Housekeeping and laundry service are two of the amenities that vary by location. It may be an extra cost or included in the monthly payment. Always make sure to ask ahead of time: How many loads of laundry are included, and is there a cost to wash extra? How often will the studio/apartment be cleaned? We all love our furry pets; however, make sure pets are allowed if you or your loved one have one and check if there are any restrictions on breed or size. Many facilities also offer a 24-hour emergency system for each room, which is a comforting feature for many residents. Pick the one that best suits your needs in the present and also has options to adjust to a different space as you or your loved one age.

Dining and Dietary Options

Assisted living facilities will differ on dining options. While one may offer a full three meals and multiple snacks a day, another may only provide two meals and no snacks. A third choice would only provide a la carte options, meaning you only pay for what you eat. Making sure you have one that fits your needs is essential. Make sure to ask: What are the dining area options? How many meals are offered each day? Is the food made fresh daily? Can the facility accommodate special requests or dietary restrictions/requirements? Can residents eat when they want, or is there a set time for meals? Can residents keep food in their apartment or studio? Does the facility have samples for you to try? Are meals made for birthdays, special occasions, or holidays? For many people, having food they enjoy equals a feeling of being at home and nourished. Nutrition is essential to having a healthy body and mind.

Common Space And Group Activity Options

Group activities improve quality of life. They also combat loneliness and depression. Welcoming usable spaces both inside and out fosters community and the opportunity to have time with friends and family. Shared spaces can include beauty or barber shops, pools, and libraries. Amenities such as a fitness room, a garden space, arts and crafts, a hobby space, and a walking path helps with physical and mental health. A TV/movie room and access to computers offer entertainment and an easy way to stay connected to family and friends. Choose a facility with activities that you enjoy, which will significantly improve your quality of life. Some places offer live entertainment or group activities off-property. What types of activities are available? How often are activities planned? Are there regular outings for residents? Do volunteers come into the community? Is there easy access to transportation for off-property errands and activities? Each assisted living facility will differ regarding amenities, activities, and group spaces it has available. Make sure you choose one that closely matches your wants and needs.

Health Care At The Facility

A significant determining factor is the quality of healthcare and the attention that is given to the residents. All assisted living facilities are not created equal. An initial health assessment before moving in and then a follow-up with a long-term plan is essential. Periodic evaluations that include the resident, the family, staff, and physicians ensure that the highest level of care is being given. Clarify details such as: How is medication managed? Is self-medication allowed, and is there support to make sure you take your daily medications and keep the prescriptions or supplements in stock? How are health care visits coordinated, and are there easily accessible transportation and drivers that help you get to doctor appointments? 

Cost And Financial Considerations

We all want the best care and living facilities that we can afford. The long-term financial plan is part of deciding which assisted living facility will work for you. Understanding yearly and monthly fees, extra costs for things that are not included, billing and payment policies, and refund policies are critical. Ask to see a contract that includes all the fees, admission and discharge requirements, supportive services, and costs, and get legal help so that you can fully understand the agreement. 

Prepare For The Future

It is essential to work with expert legal counsel to decide on the delicate estate and assisted living planning choices you will need to make and to ensure that you and your loved ones are well cared-for and happy. ProvenLaw is a legal group providing trust, estate, tax planning and litigation, probate and trust administration, and business succession planning in Utah. We exceed client expectations by offering unmatched expertise, client service, and quality work. With over 90 years of combined experience, our attorneys and staff have the skills, knowledge, and experience to fulfill your legal needs. You are more than just another client; you are our number one priority. Contact us today to discuss your assisted living planning and estate planning options.

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