An assisted living facility is a home or community for seniors and the elderly who need only minimal assistance in their day-to-day activities, including medication assistance and nursing care. Unlike nursing homes, residents in an assisted living community are allowed to be independent as long as they are capable – and as long as possible.
Also known as domiciliary care, residential care, congregate housing, and boarding homes, assisted living facilities offer different living spaces. Residents can choose from semi-private or private apartments that can be furnished or unfurnished, private studios, one-bedroom private units, one-bedroom shared units, and dormitory-style rooms. There are other features and amenities residents can avail of.
If you think that assisted facilities are ideal for you or your senior loved one, the best thing to do is request a tour. A visit to the place will allow you to get a visual idea of what to expect and enable you to ask questions and learn more about the community.
Below are some suggestions for questions you should ask.
1. Before going to the facility, ask first for the exact location and complete address of the assisted living community.
The facility’s location is an integral factor in helping you determine whether it’s the right place for you or your loved one. Is it located in an area near your home, or are you required to travel a little bit before reaching the place?
Also, you need to know what kind of neighborhood surrounds the facility. You’ll want one that makes you feel safe and secure.
2. How many living/residential units does your facility have? What type of units can residents choose from?
Knowing the number of living units available will give you an idea of how many residents the facility can take. It is also vital to ask what types of apartments you or your senior loved one can choose from.
Do they have private apartments? Are there one-bedroom units available? Do they offer shared one-bedroom living spaces?
3. What amenities and services come with the living spaces?
Residential units in assisted living facilities often come with amenities and services. Do not hesitate to ask about this during the tour. Will residents have their bathrooms and kitchens? Do the units have furnishings?
Small details such as cable TV, Wi-Fi connectivity, house or room cleaning services, and entertainment options are also essential factors for residents. A facility that allows pets and additional room decorations often score high points with residents.
Likewise, do not forget to ask about common areas where residents can gather and enjoy doing activities together.
You can also inquire if residents’ living apartments come with their own parking space.
4. How many staff members are in the facility 24/7? Are there skilled nurses and medical professionals in the facility? What are their tasks and responsibilities?
Getting to know the facility’s staff is crucial because you are leaving your loved one in their care. You’ll want to be sure your family member will be in good hands. Ask about their professional background, experience, and how long they’ve been with the facility.
Don’t forget to inquire about staff training, too.
5. Are there special services available for residents?
Some assisted living facilities offer special services such as trips to the salon, supermarket, café, and bank.
If the facility offers such services, ask if they come for free or for an additional fee.
6. What type of food do you offer? How are the meals served to residents?
Some living units may come with their kitchen, but it will still help to ask about the facility’s food and dining details. Dining with the other residents from time-to-time will do your senior loved one a lot of good.
You should also inquire if they allow visitors to bring food for residents. For example, if a resident is celebrating his birthday, are his relatives allowed to visit him and bring cake and food for everyone?
7. Does the facility have a standby healthcare provider or medical professional who can administer medication?
Although assisted living facilities residents need only minimal medication assistance, knowing if there is a standby medical professional is still vital. These details will give you an idea of how they administer and manage medication.
So, in case of an emergency, you’re guaranteed that the facility will take care of your loved one.
8. What is the monthly fee per unit type? Should we expect to pay extra fees?
Once you have all the necessary information you need, it’s time to ask about costs. Most assisted living facilities offer their services for a monthly fee, but others ask for extra fees. You have to know these details in advance so you can prepare your budget.
9. Is an assessment test needed?
Most assisted living facilities require applicant-residents to undergo an assessment test. The results will help determine if the facility is the right one for you or your loved one.
Additionally, the test will also provide the facility with vital health and medical details. Every assisted living community needs such records if an emergency happens while the resident is on their premises.
Asking the above will help you, and your loved one find the right facility that guarantees the best care and service.
Questions To Ask When Selecting An Assisted Living Facility — With Seniors In Mind is written by Jane Rohde for www.withseniorsinmind.org