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What You Need to Know About Assisted Living

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a type of housing designed for people who need various levels of medical and personal care. Living spaces can be individual rooms, apartments, or shared quarters. The facilities generally provide a home-like setting and are physically designed to promote the resident's independence. Services are offered to assist residents with daily living.

What Services Do Assisted Living Communities Provide?

The services offered by assisted living communities vary from facility to facility. Services often include:

  • One to three meals a day
  • Monitoring of medication
  • Personal care, including dressing and bathing
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • 24-hour emergency care
  • Some medical services
  • Social and recreational activities

How Do I Know What Services I Need?

Talk with your family and caregivers about what services are needed. Take time to consider what services are important to you before you visit assisted living communities. This step will help ease your transition. Think about these questions:

  • Why do I want/need to change my living arrangements?
  • What daily activities do I need help with (bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, remembering medications)?
  • How often do I need help?

What Should I Look For in an Assisted Living Community?

The following questions will help you and your family to evaluate assisted living facilities. Print out these questions and have them answered before you decide on an assisted living facility.

General

  • Is the residence licensed?
  • What type of insurance does the facility carry on personal property?
  • How do they respond to medical emergencies?
  • What is the visitation policy?

Contracts, Costs, and Finances

  • Is a contract agreement available to include accommodations, personal care, health care, and support services?
  • When may a contract be terminated, and what is the refund policy?
  • Are additional services available if the resident's needs change?
  • How do you pay for additional services that are needed on a temporary basis (such as nursing care)?
  • Are there different costs for various levels or categories of services?
  • Are there any government, private, or corporate programs available to help cover the cost of services to the resident?
  • What are the billing, payment, and credit policies?
  • May a resident handle his or her own finances with staff assistance (if able), or should a family member or outside party be designated to do so?

Staff

  • Are staff members appropriately trained?
  • Is staff turnover rapid or slow?
  • Did you receive a warm greeting from staff? Are staff members personable and outgoing?
  • Are staff members appropriately dressed?
  • Do staff members greet residents by their first names and interact warmly with them?
  • Are staff members available to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs?
  • Are staff members available to assist residents who experience memory, orientation, or judgment losses?

Residents and Atmosphere

  • Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable?
  • Do residents, other visitors, and volunteers speak favorably about the facility?
  • Do the residents seem to be appropriate housemates for you or your loved one?
  • Are the residents at similar levels of functioning as you or your loved one?
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