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Choosing An Assisted Living Facility

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/15/2011 1:02:07 PM

When a loved one falls ill, most families do their best to ensure that every day, life stays as familiar as possible. But there may come a time when the ill person can no longer function at home on their own, or even with the help of those closest to them. This is when family may have to decide on some sort of assisted living facility.

Making this decision is certainly not easy. After all, everyone wants to make sure that the end choice is the best one. The Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living (CCAL) understands how difficult this life-altering choice can be, and offers some suggestions for easing some of the stress involved.

Assess The Needs

Make an accurate and honest assessment of your loved one's physical, mental and lifestyle needs. An assessment of financial needs should also be done, both of the person going into assisted living, as well as those of the family members.

Visit In Person

Visiting assisted living places close to home can give you an idea of how such facilities are run, what's available, and whether the family must widen its search.

Narrow It Down

After paying a visit to a few places and having done some research, the next step is to narrow the selection down to about three places. Family should be sure to ask questions of staff, ask to see all the different areas of the place, and even ask questions about medical assistance and nutrition. Asking about how many "comforts from home" the person can bring with them is also important because making the loved one's new home as comfortable as possible may help to alleviate some of the initial sadness that comes with moving.

Background Checks

CCAL suggests that family ask to review a copy of the resident agreement, as well as the licensing or certification inspection report. Such documents say a lot about the facility and how much they pride themselves on giving the best possible care. Also call the long-term care ombudsman program and ask if the facilities you're looking at have received any complaints lately. (You can call ElderCare Locator at (800) 677-1116 or visit to find a local ombudsman.)

Private Investigation

A great way to see how the facility really runs is to make a surprise visit. This may seem a bit extreme, but you will be trusting one of these facilities with your loved one. Speaking to staff and residents when nothing has been prepared ahead of time will give you a truer vision of how things will be if your loved one stays there.

Talk Money

Once you have a fairly good idea of which place you would like to go with, you should be sure to ask about the money side of things. Two important questions to ask are:

  1. What is the baseline fee, and what services are included in that sum?
  2. What are the additional charges for services and products, if any?

Also go over the resident agreement and contract with a fine-toothed comb, looking for any hidden costs or fine print.

It can be a difficult decision to move a loved one into an assisted-living facility. But following these steps will help you make the right decision.

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