January 17, 2008
Research and references are the key to selecting assisted living facility
Many potential residents pin their hopes on assisted living and its menu of services as a means to keep them independent for as long as possible. Seniors who require help and support in managing their daily activities, but who don't need medical oversight or intense supervision, are the best candidates for assisted living. They may select from a range of possible services, including meals, laundry, cleaning, bathing, dressing, toileting and other personal care, albeit for additional fees.
The following advice can help you find the right assisted-living facility to meet your individual needs and to empower you to make sure that what is required by law and promised by the assisted-living facility is, in fact, delivered.
Differences Between Facilities
It is said that if you've seen one assisted living facility, you've seen one assisted-living facility.
An assisted-living unit may be as grand as a small apartment with a tiny kitchen in a large complex or as modest as a shared room with little more than a bed and dresser for each resident. One can find an assisted-living facility housing 100 residents and providing onsite nursing care two blocks away from another facility that houses six residents and employs a staff with no health care expertise at all.
Such disparities exist because assisted-living law in most states is loosely regulated. In an atmosphere of looseness, many assisted-living owners are only inclined to provide high-quality care under pressure.
Locate the Place That's Right for You
Matching an individual's specific needs (physical, emotional and social) to an appropriate assisted-living setting is a tricky endeavor, because there are so many differences between facilities. There are no shortcuts to finding the most suitable facility, but the following tips have helped others in their search for the right place:
Gather Personal Recommendations
Seeking a referral from any of the following sources make for a good first step:
Take the Formal Tour
When your initial research narrows the candidates to a handful of facilities, it's time for onsite visits. Above all, trust your senses and intuition. Does the assisted-living facility feel good, smell good and appear clean and bright? When you visit, remember to do the following:
Consider the Location
The best assisted-living facility in the world isn't much good if it's too far away for family and friends to drop by or too difficult to get to because of traffic patterns or lack of public transportation.
Look Out for Yourself or Your Loved One
The following situations are common in assisted-living facilities. Asking the suggested questions will help you to determine whether the facility is the right one to meet you or your loved one's current and future needs:
(Be aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits a business from discriminating based on a person's medical condition and requires a business to modify its procedures reasonably to accommodate a person with a disability.)
Dr. Rachelle Zukerman is professor emeritus of social welfare at UCLA, a gerontologist and author of the book, "Eldercare for Dummies." She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.