How to pick assisted living residence
The Savvy SeniorJuly 18, 2012 | 1,542 views | Post a comment
Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you give me some tips on picking a good assisted living facility for my mother? Her health has declined to the point that she can’t live alone anymore but isn’t ready for a nursing home either.
If your mother needs some assistance with daily living activities like bathing or getting dressed, managing her medications, preparing meals, housekeeping, laundry, or just getting around, an assisted living facility is definitely a good option to consider.
Assisted living facilities are residential communities that offer different levels of health or personal care services for seniors who want or need help with daily living.
While there’s no standard blueprint for how they’re constructed, an assisted living facility may be part of a retirement community or nursing home, or they may stand alone. Most communities have between 25 and 125 suites, varying in size from a single room to a full apartment. And some even offer special memory care units for residents with dementia. Here are some simple steps you can take to help you find a good facility.
Make a list: Start by calling your Area Agency on Aging (call 1-800-677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov for contact information) for a list of assisted living facilities in the area. You can also do a search online at senior housing locater sites like snapforseniors.com, or check your local yellow pages under “senior housing” or “assisted living.”
Call your ombudsman: This is a government official who investigates long-term care facility complaints and advocates for residents and their families. This person can help you find the latest health inspection reports on specific assisted living facilities, and can tell you which ones have had complaints or other problems. To find your local ombudsman, call your Area Aging Agency or see ltcombudsman.org.
Call the facilities: Once you’ve narrowed your search, call the facilities you’re interested in to find out if they have any vacancies, what they charge, and if they provide the types of services your mother needs.
Tour your top choices: During your visit, notice the cleanness and smell of the facility. Is it homey and inviting? Does the staff seem responsive and kind to its residents? Also be sure to taste the food, and talk to the residents and their family members, if available. It’s also a good idea to visit several times at different times of the day and different days of the week to get a broader perspective.
Also, find out about staff screening (do they do background checks) and training procedures, and what percentage of their staff leaves each year. Less than 30 percent annually is considered good. More than 50 percent is a red flag. To help you rate your visit, the Assisted Living Federation of America offers a handy checklist at alfa.org/checklist.
Assisted Living Costs
Since Medicare does not cover assisted living, paying for this type of housing is another area you may have questions about or need assistance with. Monthly costs for assisted living ranges anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 or more, depending on where you live, the facility you choose, and the services provided. Most residents pay out-of-pocket from their own personal funds, and some have long-term care insurance policies.
If, however, your mom is lower-income and can’t afford this, there are some states that have Medicaid waiver programs that help pay for assisted living. Or, if she’s a veteran, spouse, or surviving spouse of a vet, she may be able to get funds through the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit. To find out about these programs, ask the assisted living facility director, or contact her local Medicaid office (call 1-800-633-4227 for contact information) or regional VA office (1-800-827-1000).
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC “Today” show and author of The Savvy Senior book. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Apple Pie readers help Julia fill in the blanks (September 21, 2016)
Cheap cell phone plans for seniors (September 21, 2016)
Come And Take It starts Sept. 30 (September 21, 2016)
Disc water pitcher (September 21, 2016)
DRT chapter plans meeting, new member class (September 21, 2016)
Get ready to grill at show barn’s barbecue cook-off (September 21, 2016)
Old Town Day seeks vendors (September 21, 2016)
Poth VFD to serve up barbecued chicken (September 21, 2016)
Run and shine at Neon Sizzle 5K (September 21, 2016)
Spots open for Community Yard Sale (September 21, 2016)
St. Mary’s Fall Festival Sept. 25 (September 21, 2016)
Support FUMC youth at barbecue ‘fun’ raiser (September 21, 2016)
Teen MOPS plans upcoming meetings (September 21, 2016)
The root of many evils (September 21, 2016)
Uncovering local legends: The grave in the middle of the road (September 21, 2016)
URBAN-15 seeks dancers, drummers (September 21, 2016)
Chicago Cub yearbooks (September 14, 2016)
Enjoy Country Music Show Sept. 20 (September 14, 2016)
How to prevent falls at home (September 14, 2016)
Krawietz family reunion (September 14, 2016)
La Vernia EMS plans Car Show (September 14, 2016)
Labatt Club donates to library, children (September 14, 2016)
Low voices and high hopes (September 14, 2016)
Lutheran Church plans Sausage Dinner (September 14, 2016)
Medicaid covers mosquito repellent to fight Zika (September 14, 2016)
Metting family plans reunion (September 14, 2016)
Non-prescription drugs — the forgotten solution to rising health-care costs (September 14, 2016)
Relay For Life meeting is Sept. 15 (September 14, 2016)
Seguin Cowboy Gathering is Sept. 17 (September 14, 2016)
Smith Gas celebrates 88 years in business (September 14, 2016)
The life of Doris Billimek Moczygemba (September 14, 2016)
Trail ride donations surpass $1M (September 14, 2016)
Visit Remembering Our Fallen exhibit in Seguin (September 14, 2016)
Who will take care of you? (September 14, 2016)
A life shaped by hard work and hunting (September 7, 2016)
After-Dinner Chocolates (September 7, 2016)
Cajun music Sept. 10 (September 7, 2016)
Donate hearing aids, glasses, equipment (September 7, 2016)
Earn a certification in native landscaping (September 7, 2016)
Enjoy EquestFest 2016 (September 7, 2016)
Getting Engaged? How to spend wisely (September 7, 2016)
Mystery box (September 7, 2016)
Nominate a nonprofit for Literacy Award (September 7, 2016)
Old medicine chest dates back to 1821 (September 7, 2016)
Professional bull riding returns to Fredericksburg (September 7, 2016)
Register to run for tacos Oct. 1 (September 7, 2016)
Road Runners plan September outings (September 7, 2016)
Still time to buy tickets for Wild Game Dinner (September 7, 2016)
Take a tour of SS museum Sept. 17 (September 7, 2016)
Take the H-E-B Slim Down challenge (September 7, 2016)
Vote for top flick at Manhattan Short Film Festival (September 7, 2016)
Welcome to The Greenline, a 43-acre linear park (September 7, 2016)
‘Cupping’ long before Phelps did it (September 7, 2016)