There are many difficult decisions to be made when an elderly loved one is in need of assistance managing their day-to-day life. If you do not have the time or resources to take care of them, an assisted living facility can be a great option for continuing care of an elderly loved one. However, even after the decision has been made to choose an assisted living facility for a loved one's care, there are still decisions to be made regarding which facility you will choose. Conducting a tour of an assisted living facility is an important step in making this decision. By keeping a few things in mind, you can make a more informed decision and choose a facility that will help your loved one continue to enjoy their life while receiving the assistance that they need with everyday activities.
What is an assisted living facility?
Assisted living is an option in which your loved one still retains some measure of independence while receiving help with certain activities. These activities may include the management of meals, medication, bathing and dressing, and transportation. Assisted living facilities also typically provide residents with options for socializing with others and activities that they can enjoy.
There are currently over 31,000 assisted living facilities in the United States. This care option is one of the fastest growing, as it accommodates the needs of those seniors who do not want to give up their independence entirely, but who still need some measure of support in going about their daily activities.
Basic Things to Check for When Touring Assisted Living Facilities
Before you even conduct a thorough tour of an assisted living facility, it is a good idea to look at the basic statistics associated with that facility in order to determine whether or not it is the right place for your senior loved one's care. Among the more important factors are the cost of the facility, what types of payment options are available, and what level of care that they provide for their residents. Remember that some assisted living facilities are designed to meet the needs of those who need a higher level of care, and this might not be the right option for every senior.
Another important factor to watch out for is the staff to resident ratio of the assisted living facility, as well as the average type and level of training of staff members. Assess whether or not there are enough staff on hand to meet the needs of your loved one, and whether they have the appropriate level of training necessary to provide your loved one with the level of care that they need. It can also be a good idea to check on factors such as whether staff is available overnight, whether there is a nurse on staff, what hours medical staff is available, and more.
What to Look Out for On Your Tour
Once you've found an assisted living facility that seems like it might be right for your loved one, it is time to schedule a tour of the facility. Remember that it is ideal, if possible, to have the loved one along to tour the facility. This way, they will be able to judge whether the atmosphere is right for them and whether this will be a place where they feel comfortable.
Your tour of the facility is your first chance to meet the staff and to gauge their attitudes toward their patients. A friendly, helpful staff that is eager to show you around and inform you about day-to-day life in the facility is a staff that will continue to show this level of care to your loved one once they make the decision to stay at the facility.
Of course, it is always a good idea while taking a tour of a facility to determine whether it is clean, well-kept, and to get a first-hand look at the types of technology and facilities that they have available. Be sure to take a look at the living quarters available for residents while on a tour, to determine whether they have everything that your loved one will require for a safe and comfortable stay. Pay attention to factors such as the facilities available in their bathrooms. Do they have handrails or seating in their showers, if necessary? Will their facilities grant your loved one some measure of independence during their stay? Remember to also take the time to tour the grounds and the outside facilities that are available.
During your tour, it can also be a good idea to sit down and to have a meal with the residents to see what the food is like. Be sure to speak with staff about meals if there are any special considerations that must be made for your loved one, such as dietary restrictions.
While at the facility, be prepared with a list of questions to ask the staff members that will give you greater insight into how things are handled at the facility. Remember that a typical tour won't tell you everything you need to know, especially as regards emergency situations and their like. Ask questions about security at the facility, what contingency plans they have for emergencies and ask for information about prior security situations and how they were dealt with.
Finally, be sure that you take the time to speak with current residents and their family members, if possible. One of the greatest guarantees that you have that your loved one will be happy and well cared-for at a facility is the assurance of someone who is living there and enjoying their stay.
Conducting a thorough tour and asking many questions about the facility can help you make an informed decision that will leave you feeling comfortable about putting your loved one in the care of the staff at an assisted living facility. While the decision to put your loved one in assisted living will always be difficult, you can rest easy knowing that they will be a space where they will be safe and happy.