When your mom or dad (or any other elderly family member) needs assistance with daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and grooming, but does not need complex medical services that a nursing home provides, living in an assisted living community may be the best option. Knowing that your aging parent is safe, comfortable, and happy in a community that best meets his or her needs will give you peace of mind. Here are some things you may want to consider when looking for the perfect home for your aging loved one.
Location of the community will also be important to you and your parent. Close access to a hospital, in case of a medical emergency, is imperative when every minute counts. The location is also important to provide your parent easy visitation and access to a spouse, children, grandchildren, and friends. You should be able to visit as often as you like to reassure yourself that your parent is getting the best care at all times and that he or she is safe and happy.
Cost of Assisted Living
The monetary cost of living in an assisted living community will be very important to you and your parent. Some insurance companies will pay for your parent to live in one but, most of the time, the money will have to come out-of-pocket. Medicare will not pay for an assisted living community. Your parent’s home and most of the possessions in it may have to be sold in order to be able to live in an assisted living community unless there are other assets, such as a retirement fund, to draw from and use.
Assistance with Medications
If your parent depends upon medication for an illness, some assisted living communities allow residents to take the medicine without any assistance and others allow only nursing staff to give it out when needed. If the facility allows self-medication, qualified and certified medical personnel should be onsite in case of an adverse reaction or overdose. If your parent has any indication of dementia, it may be best to pick a facility where a nurse is in charge of administering any drugs.
Meals and Food Preparation
If your parent wants to and is able to prepare his or her own meals, an apartment with a stove and microwave may be in order. If these are not needed, a community should be chosen that has an onsite dining room where meals are served. The people who prepare and serve the food should be trained in safe and clean food preparation and the kitchen should show that is has a good inspection record. More importantly, food that your parent likes and that tastes good should be served.
Safety and Security
The safety of your parent is very important to you and it should be to the operators of each assisted living community as well. There should be handrails in hallways and showers, bright lighting wherever residents are, alarms on all doors and windows, and a 24-hour emergency response plan in place. If these and other safety necessities, such as well-lighted exits, are not in plain view, then that community is not for your parent.
Staff Background Checks
Those who will have access to your parent’s living space, including the cleaning crew and medical staff, should have had criminal background checks run that show clean criminal records that are free of abuse and sexual charges. The last thing you want your parent subjected to is a criminal on staff who may steal your parent’s belongings or abuse them in any way. The facility should be able to guarantee that every staff member has a clean criminal record.
Cleanliness and Inspection Reports
The cleanliness of the assisted living community is important. Each facility should be able to show you a satisfactory state inspection report for prior months and years. In order to ensure that no resident is living in a sloppy, unsanitary environment, the facility should be cleaned daily and there should be reports to this effect that the owners can show you. The cleaning staff should be upbeat, cheerful, and treat everyone well when cleaning residents’ rooms.
If your parent practices a religious faith, he or she will want to know if there will be access to a church or synagogue. There are faith-based communities available to those who want to live in a community with those who have similar beliefs. It is important that a spiritual parent is allowed to continue with his or her faith in some way. If certain foods are forbidden due to a religious belief, the facility should be able to meet your parent’s dietary needs.
Some communities offer many recreational activities to keep seniors active; however, some only offer senior apartments. If your parent is able to participate in and enjoys activities such as shopping, movies, restaurants, and exercise routines, a community that offers these may be best. If he or she does not get around well and does not want to participate in these kinds of activities, an assisted living community with senior apartments only may be better.
The Fine Print
Once you and your parent decide on a community you both like and think is affordable, look at the contract that will have to be signed. In order for there to be no surprises in the future, an attorney should be consulted to look over any fine print. She will determine if the monthly price can be raised in the future or if residents can be fined for silly infractions, such as requiring the extra assistance of an aide or forgetting to close a window.
It is important to visit each community to get price quotes and observe the overall look and feel of the place. Reviews from the internet, state inspection reports, and feedback from family and friends who have had aging parents in assisted living communities should all be researched to help make a decision. Every bit of information you can get will help you and your parent decide which community is the best choice for everyone involved.