Finding the Right Assisted Living Facility, Part 2

By on September 25, 2014
aging home health care

Finding the right assisted living facility for your parents is stressful, confusing, and awkward. You are going to have to be intrusive about their likes and dislikes, habits, and personalities, and you are going to have to share that information with total strangers. It’s not enough to just walk through, look at the rooms, and grab a brochure and price list. You have to get a “feel” for the place, to see if the tone of the facility will match your parents’ personalities.

There are so many questions to ask, and it’s easy to forget one that may later become important. So many “what ifs” and possible scenarios to consider. And no one can predict the future, so is this place good for long term, no matter what, or is it going to be a stop-gap?   We spent this afternoon talking to the marketing person for an assisted living facility.

We chose this one to check out for several reasons:

It is owned by a company that has many locations, and a good reputation – in fact, my mother spent a year in one of their independent apartment communities, and was sorry to have to leave it when she had to transition to assisted living.   It is close.

Our current 90-mile round trip to check on my husband’s parents has gotten very old. This place is about 10 minutes away, and I can think off-hand of at least 3 different ways to get there that do NOT involve getting on the freeway.

It has a dementia/memory care facility in a separate building behind the assisted living building. That would be very handy and convenient if/when the day comes that FIL will need that level of care.

All of these places are happy to talk to you. They would love for you to call and make an appointment to come in and let them give you their sales pitch. Their marketing people have shiny brochures and beautifully illustrated booklets and folders with all the services they offer, pretty pictures of well-appointed rooms and smiling residents.

They have all of their selling points carefully memorized and ready to recite to convince you that THIS is the BEST place for your loved one!

I am probably their worst nightmare. We show up unannounced and unexpected. We won’t be put off, but politely ask if there is anyone available to show us around. We do not give them time to prepare anything in advance.

We bring a camera. We have a page-long checklist – and a page-long list of questions. And I ask every single one of them and check them off the list.

I already know the types of licensing required for such facilities in this state (Type A and Type B). I want to know how many rooms/residents, the staff to resident ratio – and the turnover rates for residents AND staff. Okay, the activities calendar looks full… but what about the care facilities?

Where can a resident go to be alone? Is there a security system? How about an emergency call system? Do they have doctors/nurses on staff?

What kind of pre-admittance assessment to they require? What pharmacy do they use? What hospital? How is the mail handled, do the residents have individual boxes? Is the mail secure? Is there a locking cabinet in the resident’s room?

How big is the shower? So many questions – but whatever place we choose will hopefully be where my in-laws live out their lives.

assisted_living-dining-room-300x199

We want to do whatever we can to ensure that they will be comfortable and happy wherever they end up.

I’ve had to do this before for my own mother, so I’m not a novice… but what worked for my mom would not necessarily be a good fit for either of my husband’s parents.

The place we just checked out this afternoon actually looks like a very good possibility. We have several others to look at, too, plus other options for home care as well. But at least we have a start.

By the way, the Texas State Attorney General’s website has some excellent tips for choosing a nursing home or long-term care facility, with a list of things to look for and ask about.

While the licensing regulations may not carry over to other states, the information is well worth checking out, no matter where you live.

This is a good link –Texas Attorney General

Now the next step- Having Diane Carbo RN come and check them out to give us a different perspective.

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