How to Choose the Right Assisted Living Facility for Your Aging Parent: 11 Tips for Success

How to Choose the Right Assisted Living Facility for Your Aging Parent

If you have an aging parent who needs extra assistance with daily activities, moving them into an assisted living facility can be a great option to ensure they receive the care they need. However, choosing the right facility can be a difficult decision, as there are many factors to consider. Here are some tips and advice to help you make the best choice for your loved one.

1. Determine What Type of Care Your Parent Needs

The first step in choosing the right assisted living facility is to determine what type of care your parent needs. Some facilities offer a range of services, from basic assistance with daily activities to more specialized medical care. It’s important to assess your parent’s needs and choose a facility that can provide the appropriate level of care.

Some facilities offer minimal assistance, while others provide extensive medical care. It is essential to determine the level of assistance your parent requires before selecting a facility.

assisted living facility
Photo by JD Mason

Some factors to consider when determining the level of care needed are:

  • Mobility: Can your parent move around independently or require assistance?
  • Medical Needs: Does your parent have any medical conditions that require monitoring or medication management?
  • Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): Can your parent perform activities of daily living independently (e.g., bathing, dressing, toileting, eating)?

Understanding your parent’s needs will help you narrow down your options and select a facility that can provide the appropriate level of care. It’s also important to honestly assess your parent’s needs and not sugarcoat or overlook their requirements. 

2. Research the Facility’s Reputation and Reviews

Once you’ve determined the type of care your parent needs, research the reputation and reviews of potential facilities. Look for facilities with positive reviews and a good reputation in the community. You can also check with local senior centers or hospitals for recommendations.

Assisted living facility
Photo by Douglas Sheppard

3. Consider the Facility’s Location and Accessibility

When choosing an assisted living facility, consider the location and accessibility of the facility. Is it close to family members and friends? Is it easily accessible by public transportation or nearby major highways? Choosing a facility that is easily accessible can make it easier for family and friends to visit.

Generally, you want to choose a location that is convenient for family members and friends to visit. Being close to family and friends can help your loved one feel more connected and supported. It’s also important to consider the location of the facility in relation to medical facilities, shopping centers, and other amenities that your loved one may need access to.

4. Visit the Facility in Person

It’s important to visit potential assisted living facilities in person to get a feel for the environment and amenities. Take a tour of the facility, meet with staff and residents, and ask questions about the services and amenities offered.

Here are five questions you can ask residents, staff, and management to gain valuable insights:

1. Residents:

   a. How would you describe your overall experience living here? 

   b. What specific services or amenities do you appreciate the most?

   c. Are there any areas for improvement or concerns you would like to share?

   d. How responsive and helpful is the staff in addressing your needs and requests?

   e. Would you recommend this facility to others seeking assisted living?

2. Staff:

   a. How would you describe the work environment and the relationship among the staff members?

   b. How well-supported do you feel in your role by the management?

   c. Are there opportunities for professional growth and development within the organization?

   d. How does the facility prioritize the safety and well-being of its residents?

   e. Are there any challenges you face in providing care, and how does the facility address them?

3. Management:

   a. How does the facility ensure the quality and consistency of care provided to residents?

   b. What measures are in place to maintain residents’ dignity and independence?

   c. How does the facility handle resident feedback and concerns?

   d. Can you provide information on staff-to-resident ratios and how they are determined?

   e. What contingency plans are in place for emergencies or unexpected events?

By asking these questions, you can gather a range of perspectives and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the facility’s strengths, areas for improvement, and its commitment to providing a safe and comfortable living environment for its residents.

5. Evaluate the Facility’s Amenities and Services

When visiting the facility, evaluate the amenities and services offered. Are there daily activities and events for residents? Is there a fitness center or pool? What type of meal options are available? Choosing a facility that offers amenities and services that match your parent’s interests and needs can help them feel more at home.

Take into consideration your parent’s wants and needs. For example, if your parent enjoys socializing, a facility that offers group outings and events may be the best fit. On the other hand, if your parent values independence, a facility that provides private apartments and kitchenettes may be a better option.

6. Compare the Facility to Other Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

Visiting the facilities in person is crucial to determine whether they are the right fit for your parent. During your visit, take note of the following:

  • Cleanliness and maintenance: Is the facility clean and well-maintained?
  • Staff interactions: Are the staff members friendly, helpful, and engaging with residents?
  • Resident engagement: Do the residents appear happy and engaged in activities?
  • Safety features: Are there safety features in place, such as grab bars and emergency call buttons?
  • Meal quality: Are the meals nutritious and appetizing?

Make sure to ask questions and voice any concerns you may have during your visit. The facility’s staff should be willing to answer your questions and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.

7. Create an Assisted Living Checklist

To help you evaluate potential assisted living facilities, create a checklist of important factors to consider. This can include things like the quality of care, location and accessibility, amenities and services, cost of care, and reputation and reviews.

Assisted living facility
Photo by Francesca Tosolini

8. Consider the Culture and Community of the Facility

When choosing an assisted living facility, consider the culture and community of the facility. Does it feel like a warm and welcoming environment? Are the staff friendly and attentive to residents’ needs? Choosing a facility with a positive culture and community can help your parent feel more at home.

Another important factor to consider is the staff-to-resident ratio. You want to make sure that there are enough staff members to provide the necessary care and attention to your loved one. Having a low staff-to-resident ratio can result in poor quality care and can lead to neglect or abuse. Ask the facility about their staffing levels and how they ensure that their staff members are adequately trained and supervised.

Visiting policies can vary greatly between assisted living facilities, so it’s important to consider this when choosing a facility. Some facilities may have strict visiting hours or limitations on the number of visitors allowed at one time. Other facilities may have more open policies that allow family members and friends to visit whenever they want. Consider what is important to you and your loved one when it comes to visiting and make sure that the facility’s policies align with your needs.

9. Look at Senior Living Options

Assisted living facilities are just one option for senior care. Look at other senior living options, such as independent living communities or nursing homes, to see which one might be the best fit for your parent.

10. Safety & Rights

Safety and security should be a top priority when choosing an assisted living facility. Make sure that the facility has measures in place to ensure the safety and security of its residents. This can include things like security cameras, secure entrances and exits, and emergency response systems. It’s also important to ask about the facility’s policies and procedures for handling emergencies and other safety concerns.

When choosing an assisted living facility, it’s important to consider the resident’s rights and responsibilities. Every resident has the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be involved in decisions regarding their care. Make sure that the facility you choose is committed to upholding these rights and has policies in place to ensure that residents are involved in their own care.

11. Evaluate the Cost of Care

Finally, when choosing an assisted living facility, evaluate the cost of care. Look at the cost of living, as well as any additional fees for services or amenities. Make sure you choose a facility that is affordable and fits within your budget. 

How to Choose the Right Assisted Living

Choosing the right assisted living facility for your aging parent can be a daunting task. However, by following the steps outlined above, you can make an informed decision and select a facility that meets your parent’s needs and preferences. Remember to involve your parent in the decision-making process, consider the level of care needed, amenities and services offered, and visit the facilities in person. With careful consideration and planning, you can ensure that your parent receives the care and support they need to live a happy and fulfilling life in their golden years.

Are you considering in-home care? Read our 5 Common Myths About In-home Care for Seniors Debunked

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical, financial, or legal advice. Consult with your medical, financial, and healthcare professionals for personalized guidance and recommendations regarding your specific needs and conditions.