Choosing an assisted living community that is the best fit for your senior loved one’s needs requires research and time. In order to feel comfortable with your final choice, it’s important to identify the common pitfalls families experience and avoid making any of them. Below we’ve outlined what to avoid when searching for an assisted living community.
Mistake #1: Not including your senior loved one
Whenever possible, don’t blindside a senior with a move to an assisted living community. Involve your family member in the decision making process to the extent that they are able to participate. Be certain to ask them what is important to them in an assisted living community. Also make sure they understand the variety of services and amenities today’s assisted living communities have to offer them. Being part of the search will help your older family member feel independent and empowered.
Mistake #2: Not understanding finances or payment options
As you begin your research, remember to investigate the types of costs involved and the options available to cover these expenses. Expenses will vary depending on the type of community and the services needed.
In addition to a family’s private resources, other payment options that might help you finance assisted living include:
- Long Term Care Insurance
- Life Insurance Policy Conversions (also called Life Settlement Funds)
- The Veteran’s Administration Aid & Attendance Benefit
Mistake #3: Not understanding the type of care a senior needs
Make sure the level of care your loved needs fits with the level provided by the assisted living community. If you aren’t certain about your choice, talk with your family member’s primary care physician and the clinical staff at the community you are considering.
Mistake #4: Being unaware of state regulations
Do your research to be sure you understand your state’s assisted living regulations. Assisted living communities are regulated at the state level and the laws vary from state to state. It’s important to know what services can and can’t be offered by an assisted living community in your home state.
Mistake #5: Waiting until a crisis occurs to explore assisted living
Often times the wrong decision is the result of being forced to make too quick of a decision. Starting to explore senior living communities before a crisis occurs allows you time to:
- Visit a variety of different communities
- Talk to staff members to learn of their experience and training levels
- Ask questions about the types of social programs offered
- Find out the types of services provided and determine if they meet the needs of your loved one
- Talk to residents to get a feel for the people that your family member will be surrounded by
- Walk through the facilities and peek into the rooms to see if they look and smell clean
- Talk to administrators to get a feeling for how they treat residents and their families
- Visit the communities that are the “finalists” during off hours to see what happens when day shift supervisors aren’t around
Our final tip is to have your attorney read the contract and any other documents you or your senior loved one will be required to sign. Not taking the time to read and understand each one may cause future problems. When increasing fees or changes in pricing structures occur that you weren’t expecting, the happiness of living in the community can quickly turn into dissatisfaction.
Avoiding these common mistakes will help to make your loved one’s search and move to assisted living a happy one!