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Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

Do you need help with the activities of daily living—bathing, cooking meals, cleaning house—yet you are looking to keep as independent as possible?

Assisted living may be right for you. Assisted living facilities provide round the clock care and support. A good facility will put together a plan for you that marries the best of independent living and personal care services.

Assisted living facilities are residential, generally ranging from converted homes, condominiums or apartments. Some offer apartment style living while others provide only rooms. In most cases there are common eating areas, workout facilities, pharmacies and other amenities. Services typically include housekeeping, laundry, transportation, security, and emergency call systems. Each state has its own licensing requirements for these facilities, so be sure to check with your state to see what services can and should be provided.

When you choose your new home, take the time to get to know—and to observe—the residents and staff at each individual facility. Their interactions can tell you more about the facility than a mere list of amenities and services. Watch to see if the residents appear to be happy. Are they interacting with each other and do they seem like people that you would like to get to know? Watch the staff as they interact with the current residents. Do they appear interested in you and your needs — or do they appear rushed? Judge whether you think they are positive and courteous to the residents.

Ask the administrator for his credentials and licensure to verify that they are up to date. Ask the administrator about the staff, too. Find out if they use professional nursing services on site, or if they use a home health agency. You should also ask about physical or occupational therapists. See what kinds of training and qualifications are necessary for the different types of staff.

Be certain to check out the dining area. Ask for a copy of one of their menus. If you have a special diet, ask whether they can accommodate your needs. Find out what the guidelines are for guests and for dining in your room.

It’s also a good idea to review the current activity calendar to find out the different recreational and spiritual activities are available.

Consider the facility’s location. Will it be easy for family members to visit? Is it close to your doctor and hospital, shopping and entertainment centers?

Finally, you should also learn the costs and fees of living in a certain establishment. What is included in the basic monthly cost? Are there fees for extra services? Would these fees ever be subject to change? Find out about security deposits and refund policies, along with whether your agreements and contracts can be modified.

The most important thing is to find a center that you will be comfortable in. It’s going to be your home so it needs to be a good fit for you.

A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News