What Caregivers Need to Know About Assisted Living
What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a type of housing 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 residents' 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:
When Nancy Levitt's mother was first diagnosed with dementia 14 years ago at age 78, the doctor told her she could safely drive to familiar places. But Levitt, 61, who volunteers at UCLA's Center on Aging in Los Angeles, was still nervous. Unexplained nicks and dents started appearing on her mother's car. She forgot where she parked. Levitt tried to discuss driving safety with her mother, but she angrily denied there was a problem. Then, she would forget their talks about driving altogether.
How Can 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 to change my residence?
What daily activities do I need help with (bathing, dressing, toileting, eating)?
How often do I need help?
What Should I Look for in an Assisted Living Community?
The following checklist will help you and your family evaluate assisted living facilities. Review the checklist before your visit to the facility and take it with you.
Assisted Living Consumer Checklist
Does the residence meet local and/or state licensing requirements?
What is the policy on insurance and personal property?
What is the procedure for responding to a medical emergency?
Are visitors welcome at any time?
Is there a written plan for the care of each resident?
What is the procedure for assessing a potential resident's need for service? Are those needs reassessed periodically?
Can a resident be discharged for refusing to comply with a care plan?
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?
Is staff appropriately trained?
Did you receive a warm greeting from staff? Are staff members personable and outgoing?
Is staff appropriately dressed?
Do staff members greet residents by their first names and interact warmly with them?
Is staff available to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs?
Is staff available to assist residents who experience memory, orientation, or judgment losses?