Assisted Living 101

Assisted Living 101

By: Maureen Connolly, OceanView Director of Operations

I don’t recall college ever offering a course on “caring for an aging relative” or “senior living options,” but by the time you have completed the process, you should have earned your degree in Assisted Living! The following outline may help keep you focused and better prepared as to what you should look for and communities you should pursue.

Step 1: Pre-determination/eligibility

What would be the best location for your relative (and you)? Remember convenience! What is your relative’s realistic financial picture? Is the financial picture strong enough to support living in a private pay community or are your projections steering you to one that has a state assistance program?

What are the physical and emotional needs of your relative? Getting the physician’s input, preferably a geriatrician is important.

Step 2: Information gathering

Search the internet for assisted living communities in the area that would be the best location and most convenient for you. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for a listing of communities in your area.

Talk to your friends and acquaintances as they may be dealing with similar issues. Word of mouth often is worth more that the printed material you receive.
Contact the communities that meet your criteria and request a brochure.

Step 3: Review/ Set Appointment

Review the brochures.
Select the top three communities that you would like to visit.
Schedule a tour appointment. This visit should be informational and is best done without the relative.

Step 4: Appointment– use your senses

Arrive a few minutes early
Observe the environment
Listen to the staff interacting with residents
Feel the mood
Smell – need I say more?

Step 5: The Tour

What is the community’s philosophy?
Who manages the community?
How is the community licensed?
What are the monthly costs and services?
Question the longevity of employees? Satisfied employees often indicate a pleasant working environment which in turn means happy and content residents.
What are the staffing ratios? Is there a nurse on duty 24 hours a day?
Are the activities intellectually stimulating?
How is the food?
What is the application process?

Step 6: Reflection

Will the quality of life of your relative be better and perhaps even enhanced?
Can you see your relative fitting into the lifestyle of this community after an adjustment period of time?
Can you trust those individuals that will be caring for your relative?

In summary, if you answered yes to all of these questions, then this is definitely a community your relative should tour. Take your relative on the tour of your top two choices. Too many communities get overwhelming for an older person, specifically if there are memory issues. Make it as easy as possible for both of you. Whoever said “knowledge is power” was right! Look how far you’ve come!

Download our assessment tool, “Is It the Right Time?,” to help determine if assisted living would be in your loved one’s best interest.