Answer These Questions Before You Make the Assisted Living Decision
Moving to Assisted Living is a major life decision. Researching options isn't something you do on a weekend; it takes time and you need to start early. Many facilities are available, but they may be in short supply. To make things worse, you may find that many facilities have waiting lists.
In my community of Rochester, MN there are Assisted Living high-rises, private homes, private cottages, and shared cottages. Four people live in each shared cottage. Each has their own room and they share a common space, something that may not work for those who want privacy.
What is Assisted Living? It's a form of long-term care, with a variety of services. Mayo Clinic, in a website article, "Long Term Care: Early Planning Pays Off," tells people to start the search early. "If you wait, an injury or illness may force your hand -- leading to a hasty decision that may not be the best in the long run," Mayo explains.
My father-in-law, a retired Mayo physician and widower for many years, moved into a high-rise owned and operated by Mayo. Though many of his friends lived in the high-rise, he was reluctant to move. This is a common response, according to Joanna Saison, MSW, Melinda Smith, MA, Dough Russell, MSW, and Jeanne Segal, PhD, authors of "Tips for Choosing a Facility and Making the Transition," posted on the Help Guide website.
Moving is always stressful, the authors point out, and "the thought of leaving everything you know can make you feel vulnerable." Be prepared for feelings of loss, the authors advise. Answering these questions will help you with research and also save you time. If you think of more questions add them to the list.
Who owns and operates the facility?
Is it near your current home?
Would you be close to the "action," restaurants, shops, public library, theaters, and parks?
Is the place well-maintained?
Are there enough elevators or stairs?
Is it wheelchair accessible?
What are the parking arrangements?
Does it meet state health standards/regulations?
What is the facility's reputation?
How does it compare to others?
Is there a waiting list?
What services do you need now?
What health and medical services are available?
Will nursing care be available if and when you need it?
Do the residents seem happy?
Is the staff courteous?
Does the food look and taste good?
Are the activities appealing?
Is the housekeeping staff efficient?
Is transportation provided?
Are washing machines free or coin-operated?
Is it affordable?
Does moving in hinge on the sale of your current home?
Are different payment plans available?
What is the average monthly cost?
How many meals does the meal plan cover?
If you put down a deposit, does it earn interest?
What are the extra charges?
Does the facility forecast an increase in fees?
Does the place feel like home?
Though answering these questions will help you narrow down your Assisted Living search, you also need to give yourself enough thinking time. "Why should I do this?" my father-in-law asked. Our answer: Moving to Assisted Living would give him the services he needed. Family members helped Dad move and it went well. Within months, he was raving about Assisted Living.