If you determine it’s time for assisted living of some kind, you will need to assess how much care is needed. A physician’s exam and counseling can help with this assessment. Once the level of care is decided, you can begin the process of choosing a facility that will fit your situation.

The level of care needed will also help you determine the type of care facility you will need to research more thoroughly

How do I know when it is time to consider finding a facility for an aging family member?

  • If the individual is currently living alone, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so safely while meeting daily needs such as eating.
  • If the individual is currently receiving informal care given by you or another family member.
  • If the individual is currently receiving in-home care.

What are the different types of long-term care facilities?

  • Independent Living
  • Assisted Living
  • Supportive Living
  • Board and Care Home
  • Nursing Home
  • Alzheimer’s/Dementia Unit

What can I expect to pay for care in a facility?

  • Independent Living Facility – ($1,000-Several thousand a month)
  • Assisted Living Facility- ($1,000-3,000 a month)
  • Board and Care – ($350.00-3,000 a month)
  • Nursing Home – ($30,000-40,000 a year)

Pay sources for nursing homes:

  • Medicare – following a hospital stay of 3 days or more
  • Medicaid – for people who meet low income and asset/resource eligibility requirements
  • Private Pay – over time may become eligible for Medicaid if enough assets are “spent-down” or depleted
  • Medigap/Supplemental Insurance
  • Long-term Care Insurance
  • Veterans Benefits

What should we look for in the facility itself?

  • Is the environment well-decorated and homelike?
  • Does the lobby have comfortable furniture?
  • Are residents occupying the lobby?
  • Are the hallways decorated?
  • Is there a daily activity calendar posted for residents to see?
  • Do the residents’ rooms display personal belongings?
  • What furniture comes with the room?

Does the building and areas look clean?

  • Is the facility odor free? Does it remain that way throughout the entire tour of the facility?
  • Do you see spills on the floor that have not been cleaned up?
  • Are the bed linens free of soil or stains?
  • Do the residents’ bathroom and shower areas look clean?
  • Are the residents’ rooms reasonably neat and clean?
  • Do they look “lived in” and a place where activity goes on?

Is the dining room inviting and are the meals appetizing?

  • Is the dining room clean and free of spills?
  • Is the daily menu posted for residents to see?
  • Are the tables cleared and cleaned soon after the meal?
  • Do you see stale or leftover meal trays sitting around in residents’ rooms?
  • Ask some residents how they like the food or about their favorite meal!

Is this an active place that pays attention to residents and their social/recreational needs?

  • Ask to go to the activity room.
  • Ask the staff on duty what the next activity on the schedule is.
  • Ask to see the activity calendar for the month.
  • Talk to the residents in the activity room to assess their level of interest in what they are doing.
  • Do the activities seem appropriate or are they too childish?
  • Are the residents talking to each other?

Is the atmosphere friendly and dignified?

  • Ask to meet the Administrator; is he/she available and personable?
  • Do the staff members look at you and smile?
  • Are the staff members smiling at the residents and talking with them?
  • Are the residents smiling and talking with staff members and other residents?
  • Are the residents’ clothes clean, buttoned and zipped?
  • Are most of the residents out of bed?
  • Does the person conducting your tour address the residents by name when he/she encounters them?
  • Do you observe emergency call buttons going unanswered?

To make the best decision, you must rely upon your own impressions and instincts. Chances are that your loved one will have the same reactions to things that you do. Trust yourself and your loved one can trust you.