How to Evaluate All of the Assisted Living Options

Are you thinking about living arrangements to provide help for yourself or a loved one? As Baby Boomers reach their 60s to 70s, more people need help with daily activities. Many are choosing assisted living options to stay as independent as possible.

Today, there are about 28,900 assisted living communities in the United States. This includes nearly 1 million licensed-care beds. Some facilities offer memory care for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Choosing the right assisted living facility is an important decision. Keep reading our guide to learn about the senior living options and even questions to ask.

What Is an Assisted Living Facility?

First, an assisted living facility (ALF) is different from a nursing home. ALFs focus on promoting their resident’s independence, dignity, privacy, safety, and choice. At the same time, they offer services to help with activities of daily living.

To ensure resident safety, ALFs provide 24-hour supervision and assistance when needed. They’re able to adjust the level of care needed within the limits of their licensed level of care. This means a person may be able to stay during minor medical set-backs.

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Assisted Living Options

elder man in memory careAssisted living facilities range in size from 10 to over 100 residents. The average capacity for most facilities is 33. These homes, communities, or institutions offer a range of services. AARP provides the following list of basic services offered at ALFs:

  • Pharmacy access: 83.6 percent
  • Assistance with diet and nutrition: 82.8 percent
  • Occupational, physical, and/or speech therapy: 71.4 percent
  • Hospice care: 67.7 percent
  • Skilled nursing care: 66.1 percent
  • Counseling and/or mental health services: 55 percent
  • Social worker services: 51.1 percent

Approximately 14 percent of ALFs now offer memory care programs. About 8.7 percent of facilities provide care exclusively for those with dementia. Other institutions tailor care to specific medical conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease.

Paying for Assisted Living

When considering assisted living options, it’s important to know about financing choices. Original Medicare does not pay for ALF residential services.

It will continue to pay for medical expenses as usual. Medicare Advantage may cover personal care and supportive services.

Medicaid regulations are set by each state. Thus, ALF coverage varies depending on your state’s rules.

Social Security, in general, doesn’t pay for ALF. Yet, some state-specific programs may pay for some ALF services. You must speak with your state office to determine what’s covered.

Other funding options to explore include:

  • Veteran’s programs
  • Non-Medicaid state programs
  • Reverse mortgages and HELOCs
  • Assisted living loans
  • Long term care insurance
  • Life insurance benefits and conversions

Some individuals choose to sell their homes to finance ALF. You may wish to speak with a financial advisor to determine if there are other options for you.

How to Pick an Assisted Living Home

Begin by collecting information about an assisted living home where you wish to live. Look at online reviews and check their license status. Speak to people in the area who can give personal recommendations.

Determine which facilities match your funding options. Narrow the list to the ones that offer special programs you want such as memory care.

The next step is to schedule an in-person visit. It’s important to get a personal feel for the atmosphere and staff. Take your loved one with you so they can provide input in the decision.

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Make a List of Questions

Hispanic man getting helpCreate a checklist of things to look for and ask during your visit. This will make sure that you don’t forget anything. The following are several items to get your list started:

  • Does the facility look clean and have a pleasant smell?
  • Are there common areas with easy access to resident socialization?
  • Do the residents appear clean, active, and happy?
  • Is the layout easy to follow and avoid confusion?
  • Are there outdoor areas with safety features such as handrails, fences, and walking paths?
  • Do the rooms or apartments look homey or more like a hospital room?
  • What safety features do they have such as call button, door and window alarms, etc.?
  • What is their plan for medical, security, and disaster emergencies?
  • Are the walkways, stairwells, and rooms well-lit?
  • Are exits clearly marked?
  • What level of assistance is provided for medications and activities of daily living?
  • Are housekeeping services available?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Are there planned activities and social events for the residents?

You may also want to ask about additional amenities and if they cost extra. Examples include transportation for medical, social, or shopping trips. Do they have on-site salons or dining facilities?

Be sure to ask about the staff licensing and qualifications. Do they receive ongoing training?

You may also want to drop in at another time, if allowed, to see what it’s like. Does it match your scheduled visit?

Explore the Facility Culture

Every assisted living facility has its own personality and culture. It’s important to find one that feels comfortable and accepting.

Some facilities are arranged like small, intimate communities with apartment-style living. Do you prefer to live alone or with a roommate? Can you and your spouse or partner live together?

Others feel more like dormitories with rooms off the hallways. These often have dining rooms and other living or recreation areas.

Do you want a place with plenty of outdoor space to explore and relax? Or maybe you prefer to stick to the indoors.

Some individuals feel more comfortable in facilities that include a predominant culture. This may mean a strong religious affiliation, specific ethnic background, or language. You may wish to find a group that includes LGBTQ individuals.

Still, other ALFs may focus on specific interest areas. Examples include art, picnics, vegetarianism, interfaith programs, socials, and community service. It’s key to choose a place where you or your loved one will feel happy and accepted.

Looking for the Right Assisted Living Services?

group of elders stretchingWe hope you feel that this article has discussed many different assisted living options. Each person is unique and, thus, it’s important to spend time making an ALF choice.

Brooking Park provides quality care and services in a uniquely spiritual environment. We offer many different campus spiritual and wellness programs. Our mission is to provide you or your loved one with a happy and productive life.

Brooking Park, located in Chesterfield MO. offers a continuum of care. Our full line of services include:

Schedule a tour today to experience our community for yourself.

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Not ready to meet? Download our free Assisted Living Resource Guide.

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