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What Should you Look for When Choosing an Assisted Living Facility?

There's no doubt that the need to explore options in assisted living, either for yourself or for a loved one, can be stressful and confusing. Apart from the basic considerations of price and availability, there are a number of options that are important to weigh before making a final choice. Here is a basic checklist to set you on the path to the right decision:

  • Religious Affiliation or Private Corporation: Personal choice will be the determinant here. There are exemplary options in both categories, as well as assisted living facilities with ties to professional and fraternal organizations. Some have membership requirements; others have long waiting lists, so begin your search as early as possible.

  • Living Options: Whether you need a single room, a suite with a separate bedroom and sitting area, or a large two-bedroom apartment depends on your personal circumstances. Some assisted living facilities offer a continuum of care, ranging from detached or semi-detached private garden homes to single rooms in memory-care wings of high-rise buildings. Consider not only present requirements, but the possibility of future needs.

  • Staff and Available Services: Again, depending on the type and extent of services needed, ask about staff ratios, shifts, emergency care, visiting hours and the possibility of off-campus excursions or home visits. Are staff members friendly, helpful and well-groomed? Is there continuing and caring interaction with residents?

  • Buildings, Campus and Grounds: Are the surroundings attractive? Are buildings clean, both inside and out? Give interiors the "sniff test." Is anything unpleasant? Is the food well prepared, tasty and attractively served? Do food odors linger long past meal service? Are pets allowed? Is there a garden? Are there comfortable public spaces?

  • Activities and Special Events: Is there are calendar of activities? Do residents in public spaces seem happy and involved? Is there music playing? Is there a library, a card room, an exercise room or a computer room? Does the facility hold birthday parties and celebrate holidays?

As you narrow your list, check with governmental agencies about complaints or infractions, and ask management if you can speak with medical representatives or with other families who have loved ones in residence. Ask in detail about extra services and additional charges. Unless you face an emergency situation, allow ample time to make a decision, and plan to visit several times at different hours and on different days to get a true picture of life at the facility.

As for where to find the best assisted living facility, check out Saint Therese of Woodbury. After all, it's the life and well-being of someone you love that hangs in the balance.

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