How to Choose the Best Assisted Living Community for You

June 02, 2015

With life expectancy in the United States at an all-time high of 78.74 years, the likelihood that many older adults and their families will need to consider senior-care options is an increasing reality. According to Consumer Reports, nearly 1 million Americans live in 39,500 assisted living facilities. If you are exploring the possibility of assisted living, here are some specific steps to take.

Seek guidance from varied sources

Friends, relatives and acquaintances can provide recommendations and share their personal experiences with assisted living communities. Here are a few sample questions to ask your sources or when you visit a facility:

  • Food: Are residents served three meals a day, seven days a week?
  • Health/personal care: What are the procedures for responding to medical emergencies?
  • Living area and accommodations: Is the residence clean, odor-free, and properly heated and cooled?
  • Licensure and certification: If required to be licensed and certified by the state, is the facility in compliance?
  • Staff: What are the hiring practices? Does the facility conduct criminal background checks, check references and require certifications?

Determine the ideal location

Proximity is a huge consideration when researching assisted living communities. Experts recommend that you be aware of how far a residence is from shopping areas, medical providers and entertainment venues. And for families and prospective residents who live in the same city or area in a city, note how easy (or difficult) it is for visitors to make the trip to and from the community.

Closely examine fees and costs

Factors including location and costs are critical to consider when exploring any assisted living community. It’s a good idea to raise the following questions when speaking with officials at an assisted living community:

  • What does the basic monthly cost include?
  • Is there a schedule of fees for additional services?
  • What might cause fees to change? How much notice is given for fee increases?
  • Is a security deposit or entrance fee required? What is the refund policy?
  • Can residents amend or modify service agreements and/or contracts?

These tips will help you make an informed decision.

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