Finding the best senior living facility for your loved one is critical, but it can also be confusing and overwhelming. You have many options to choose from, ranging from senior apartment communities to skilled nursing facilities, and it can be difficult to know where to begin. You can find a place where your loved one will be happy, healthy, and safe by thoroughly inspecting a facility both online and in person.
Part 1 Deciding on a Level of Assistance
1. Choose independent living for the sake of community and assistance with cooking and cleaning. Independent living is an excellent option for seniors who can still care for themselves but would prefer to have someone else do their cooking and cleaning. Residents in an independent living facility live in private apartments or condos with no one checking in on them or providing nursing care.
Residents will also have access to common areas where they can socialise with other residents, making this a good option for seniors looking for friends and a social network.
Some independent living communities may also have kitchens in the apartments for residents who want to cook.
An active adult community, a retirement community or home, or senior apartments are other names for independent living.
2. If you need assistance with daily tasks, consider assisted living. Assisted living is ideal for seniors who require assistance with daily activities such as bathing, cooking, dressing, or remembering when to take medication. Residents in assisted living facilities will have their own private rooms or apartments, with meals provided and a nursing staff member checking in on them every day.
3. Choose skilled nursing for around-the-clock care. Skilled nursing facilities are the best option for someone who is unable to care for themselves and requires the assistance of a nurse at all times. Residents in these homes live in separate rooms, sometimes with a roommate.
Some skilled nursing facilities will provide a doctor to care for the medical needs of their residents.
These are also referred to as nursing homes.
4. Examine your loved one’s condition to determine the type of care they require. Keep a close eye on your loved one and try to determine where they require the most assistance. Is it still possible for them to move around independently and cook for themselves? What is the state of their house? Based on their current health, determine the most beneficial living situation for them.
If possible, inquire about your loved one’s preferences as well.
5. If you are unsure, have your loved one evaluated by a doctor. It can be difficult to determine what type of care your loved one requires, especially if they are not completely sold on the idea of moving into a facility. To assist, ask their doctor for a recommendation. Allow them to perform a physical examination before you describe your loved one’s daily schedule, needs, and any recurring issues.
You are not required to follow their advice, but it can provide you with a good starting point.
Part 2 Looking for Facilities
1. Check online for accredited facilities through their insurance. Once you’ve decided on a level of care, begin your search on the website of your loved one’s insurance company. To see what locations are covered, go to the site and search for the type of facility you’re looking for.
Senior health insurance may be free depending on where you live. In the United States, for example, anyone over the age of 65 is eligible for Medicare Part A, which is free. If your loved one has Medicare, begin your search at the Medicare website.
You can ensure that the facilities you look at are covered and safe by searching through your insurance provider.
2. Choose a facility that is close to family members. Many people who are looking for a senior facility consider location to be very important. If possible, ask your loved one where they’d prefer to be located—typically, people prefer to be near their old home or close to friends and family.
You want to ensure that friends and family can visit and check in on your loved one on a regular basis, and that they feel centrally located rather than isolated in an unfamiliar area.
3. If your loved one prefers to age in place, look for options. Some facilities assist residents as they age and require more services, allowing your loved one to receive care where they are rather than moving to a new facility. Examine your facility options carefully to determine their policy on this.
If the facility does not offer age in place options, investigate what physical declines might necessitate a move out and whether the facility will provide assistance if a move is necessary.
4. Online, you can look up a facility’s licencing and inspection records. When you go for a visit, you’ll be able to see the facility for yourself, but you can verify its safety and ensure there are no reasons to be concerned even before you go. Depending on where you live, you can frequently find this information online by visiting your state’s Agency on Aging. You can also contact your state’s long-term care ombudsman, who is a government official who collects and investigates complaints about senior facilities.
Go online and search “long-term care ombudsman in [your state]” to find your state’s LTC ombudsman.
Look for red flags, such as complaints about resident abuse or mistreatment.
5. Request recommendations from friends and family. If your options seem overwhelming, seek advice and recommendations from friends or family members who have been through similar experiences. If they don’t know of any facilities that could meet your loved one’s needs, ask if they have any general tips for you on finding a good choice.
Part 3 Touring the Facility
1. Call the facility and make an appointment for a tour. Once you’ve narrowed your list down to 1-2 facilities, contact them and request a tour for a prospective resident. This is standard procedure for most facilities, so you shouldn’t have any trouble scheduling a visit.
Inquire if a member of the staff can lead your tour and answer your questions along the way.
If possible, bring a loved one along with you on the tour, as well as another friend or family member to provide a second opinion.
2. Examine the facility to see if it is well-kept. While on the tour, take a look around to see if the grounds are well-kept. Check for anything that is rundown, broken, stained, dirty, or stinks. A well-maintained facility indicates that the staff is meticulous and caring, and that your loved one will be at ease there.
It’s fine if you smell an odour that is limited to a small area; this could indicate a recent accident. A more pervasive odour over a larger area could indicate a problem.
3. Ascertain that appropriate safety precautions are in place. Look for grab bars in the residential rooms, call buttons throughout the facility, and window and door safety locks. Look for more general safety features like emergency exit guides on the walls, smoke detectors, and overhead sprinklers.
4. Inquire with residents and their families about how they feel about the facility. Examine current residents to see if they appear well-dressed, happy, engaged, and social. Ask your tour guide if you can speak with a few of them and any visiting family members, and inquire about how long they’ve been living there and how they feel about the facility.
Inquire about their impressions of the accommodations, food, staff, and social calendar.
You could say something like, “Hello! My mother and I are looking around to see if this is a suitable place for her to live. “How did you find your time here?”
5. Check to see if the staff is friendly and attentive. Look for employees who interact with residents in a positive, friendly manner and are attentive to their needs. Also, look for a high staff-to-resident ratio—a staff that is overburdened will be unable to provide your loved one with the personalised care they require.
6. After the tour, come back a few times to double-check the quality. At the end of the tour, ask your guide if it is okay for you to return to see the facility a few more times. Then, pay a visit at various times of the day, such as during meal times or at night, as well as on weekends when there may be fewer employees on duty.
This allows you to confirm your opinion on the facility and see how it looks without the possibility of a guide trying to sell it to you.
Part 4 Asking the Right Questions
1. Inquire about how you’ll be billed for services and other financial concerns. Inquire with a staff member or the facility’s financial manager about their billing policy for various services. You should also investigate whether they participate in any payment programmes, such as Medicare or Medicaid.
2. Investigate their medical services and long-term care facilities. Inquire about the facility’s on-site medical services, and how they will change as your loved one ages. A facility with a physician or a registered nurse on-site is usually preferable, as their care will ensure that your loved one visits the emergency room less frequently in the event of illness or injury.
You should also inquire about their ability to scale up care and provide long-term services as your loved one requires them.
3. See how much your loved one can personalise their space. If your loved one is living in an independent or assisted living facility, they may want to bring their own furniture and decorations. They may also wish to prepare their own meals or bring a beloved pet with them. If this is important to your loved one, make sure to inquire about the cost of customising their private room.
You should also check to see if any activities are prohibited in private rooms or apartments.
4. Inquire whether they are free to come and go as they please. If your loved one is more mobile, they may prefer to plan their own outings. Inquire about the facility’s policy, as well as their visitor rules—can they come and go as they please, or will you need to schedule your visits in advance?
You can also inquire about scheduled social outings for your loved one through the facility, such as to a play or a movie.
5. Inquire about the background and availability of the staff. Inquire about the hiring requirements to ensure that the staff is experienced and well-trained. You should also inquire about the average level of experience among staff members, as well as how many are typically working and available to residents at any given time.
6. Examine the circumstances that would necessitate a move. Inquire whether the facility will require your loved one to leave if they are unable to make payments or if the level of care they require becomes too high. You should also inquire as to who makes the discharge decision and how much notice you and your loved one will be given if they must leave.
Inquire whether your loved one’s room will be held for them if they must stay in a hospital for an extended period of time.
7. Inquire how many rooms are currently vacant. If a facility has a large number of empty beds or rooms, it could indicate that residents are dissatisfied with their living conditions. This could also indicate that the facility is experiencing financial difficulties.
8. In order to review costs and other requirements, request a contract. Before deciding on a facility, request a copy of the admission agreement. Because this is a legal contract, you should have an elder-law attorney review it with you to ensure that you agree with its terms. In general, look for items such as: The cost of service. Some facilities charge a flat fee for room, board, and care, whereas others may charge more for higher levels of care.
Who is the responsible party? If you’re signing on behalf of a loved one, make sure you’re listed in the contract as their agent with power of attorney, or “attorney in fact,” rather than the responsible party, which would obligate you to pay for their stay.
What circumstances would necessitate a move? Make certain that the contract is specific, and keep an eye out for red flag subjective phrases like “When we can no longer meet your needs.”
Clauses requiring arbitration Keep an eye out for “mandatory” or “forced” arbitration provisions, which mean that if you disagree with the facility, you won’t be able to take them to court.
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