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7 Essential Things You Need to Know About Assisted Living

Things You Need to Know About Assisted Living
The decision of moving a loved one into an assisted-living facility needs an in-depth introspection regarding various essential factors. Here, we will inform you about the things you need to know about assisted living, before making your decision.
Shalu Bhatti
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
According to Consumer Reports, it is estimated that over 900,000 Americans reside in approximately 39,500 assisted-living facilities in the country.
Assisted living is a housing facility for people―especially the elderly―who are unable to care for themselves and need assistance to perform everyday activities. Many families with elderly loved ones, consider the option of assisted living so that essential medical and personal care may be given to those who need it. Although there are thousands of these housing units in the U.S., there is no federal oversight on this sector. This is because each state has its own definition of assisted living, based on which the required licensing and inspection procedures are outlined.

Assisted-living housing facilities are residential units with a homelike environment. They may either be apartments, individual rooms, or shared quarters. The main aim is to make the residents feel at home and promote physical and emotional independence in the way they live. There are various services available that include meals, housekeeping, monitoring of medication, laundry, and personal care such as bathing, dressing, toileting, and the like. Social activities and interaction with other residents may also be a part of the care plan. However, the services differ from one facility to the other.
Things to Consider While Choosing an Assisted-living Residence
There are many factors that one needs to consider while choosing the right facility to ensure that their loved one is getting proper care and attention, both in body and mind. Therefore, before you commence your research, it is imperative to discuss with your family doctor regarding the services that are needed for the person being admitted to the facility. That would be the first and foremost step to do. Beginning your search beforehand (take 6 to 12 months to decide), would give you enough time to evaluate various options.

The following sections will help you ensure that you have made the right decision.
Not all assisted-living facilities are licensed. Also, as mentioned earlier, every state has different criteria for licensing. Another point to be noted is that these units are not authorized to deliver nursing care, but only provide assistance in daily activities. Therefore, nursing homes are a better option for those who need constant medical care.
Senior adults lunch
The types of services provided by residential care facilities varies. It could be as minimal as providing three daily meals, to something as elaborate as 24x7 care, like in the case of dementia patients. Do they provide only supervisory care, personal care, or directed care? After consulting with the doctor, choose a facility that provides quality services that are needed by the person. You must also inquire if the reputation/feedback/reviews of the facility are as good as it sounds.
Working Staff
Assisting lady in exercise
Apart from the other details, it is very important to know if you're placing the responsibility of taking care of your loved one in safe hands. You must ensure that the staff of the facility is well-trained and is aware of what needs to be done. Not only should they know their job well, but they must also have warm and hospitable personalities. Another important thing to examine is the caregiver-to-resident ratio. Are there enough caregivers to comfortably look after the residents?
Policies and Agreements
Boss gives contract to sign
Before making a decision, it is also important to clearly discuss the policies and agreements of the facility, to see if it is in sync with your expectations. Some important points to discuss in this area would be: Visitation policy, emergency health care, payment and refund, contract termination, credit policies, pet policies, additional services in the chosen care plan, and so on.
Sharing moment of happiness
The basic idea is to make the potential resident feel at home. Therefore, it is necessary for you to go one step ahead and meet with those who reside in the facility. Speak with them and ask about the facility's atmosphere. Is it warm, friendly, and comfortable? If possible, try to get in touch with the relatives of the existing residents so that you get a clearer idea about the functioning of the facility in focus. One must also inspect the facility design to ensure that it is hygienic, safe, and resident-friendly. For example, is the floor made of non-skid material? Is the room temperature set according to the resident's need? Is it easy to get around using walkers and wheelchairs? Is the decor homelike?
Social Activities
Seniors playing cards
Socialization is an important activity which brings about numerous health benefits. One must have the knowledge of the different activities monitored in the facility for recreation. Are family members or local volunteers a part of these activities and programs? Are residents allowed to team up and participate in activities that come under their area of interest? Are all the activities conducted within the facility, or are there outdoor locations that the residents are taken to? Knowledge about these details will help you determine if the facility is right for your loved one or not.
Getting the cash
Last but not the least, another important point to be considered while making the decision is to evaluate the costs. On an average, assisted living costs around USD 3,000 to USD 4,000 per month. However, if there are additional high-level services, it will definitely add up in your final bill. Many facilities have programs that may offer financial help to those who are eligible to avail the program's benefits.
Though it may be confusing to choose the right facility, it is always best to consult a Geriatric care manager, who is well-informed regarding the ideal options based on your needs. Getting in touch with a local NGO or social worker associated with a non-profit organization would also give you access to various options. There are other government sources such as, your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) which can provide adequate information on assisted-living facilities located nearby. It is always advisable to take an adequate amount of time to decide, so as to ensure that you don't end up paying a higher price for something that was totally not made for you and your loved one.