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Choosing Assisted Living

Last Updated: April 4, 2013

Seniors today are not the seniors of yesteryear-most live full, active, and balanced lives. So deciding to move into assisted living, senior community, or another type of senior housing can be a confusing process for seniors and their families alike. The process of choosing assisted living communities can be daunting, but fortunately, there are resources that can help you.

The following checklist on choosing assisted living is an excerpt from the Assisted Living Federation of America'sGuide to Choosing an Assisted Living Residence.Take this checklist with you when you tour the different professionally-managed assisted living communities and use it to help you evaluate the services, features, and policies offered by those communities.


Atmosphere

  • As you arrive at the residence, do you like its location and outward appearance?
  • As you enter the lobby and tour the residence, is the decor attractive and homelike?
  • Do you receive a warm greeting from staff welcoming you to the residence?
  • Does the administrator/staff call residents by name and interact warmly with them as you tour the residence?
  • Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable?
  • Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the residence and staff?
  • Do the residents seem to be appropriate housemates for you or your loved one?
  • Are staff members appropriately dressed, personable, and outgoing?
  • Do the staff members treat each other in a professional manner?
  • Are the staff members that you pass during your tour friendly to you?
  • Are visits with the resident welcome at any time?
 

Physical Features

  • Is the community well-designed for your needs?
  • Is the floor plan easy to follow?
  • Are doorways, hallways, and rooms accommodating to wheelchairs and walkers?
  • Are elevators available for those unable to use stairways?
  • Does a physician or nurse visit residents regularly to provide medical checkups?
  • To what extent are medical services available, and how are these services provided?
  • Are handrails available to aid in walking?
  • Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?
  • Are floors made of a non-skid material and carpets firm to ease walking?
  • Does the residence have good natural and artificial lighting?
  • Is the residence clean, free of odors, and appropriately heated/cooled?
  • Does the residence have sprinklers and clearly marked exits?
  • Does the residence have a means of security if a resident wanders?

Needs Assessments, Contracts,Costs and Finances

  • Is a contractual agreement available that discloses healthcare and supportive services, all fees, as well as admission and discharge provisions? What are the policies for refunds and transfers?
  • Is there a written plan for the care of each resident?
  • Does the residence have a process for assessing a potential resident's need for services and are those needs addressed periodically?
  • Does this process include the resident, and his or her family and facility staff, along with the potential resident's physician?
  • Are there any government, private, or corporate programs available to help cover the cost of services to the resident?
 

Services

  • Is staff available to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs?
  • Can the residence provide a list of services available?
  • Is staff available to provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed? ADLs include dressing, eating, mobility, hygiene and grooming, bathing, toileting, using the telephone, shopping, and laundry.
  • Does the residence provide housekeeping services in residents' units?
  • Can residents arrange for transportation on fairly short notice?
  • Are pharmacy, barber/beautician, and/or physical therapy services offered on-site?

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