01 Feb 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Finding an Assisted Living Facility for Your Parents
Choosing an assisted living facility can be an emotionally draining experience. Under ordinary circumstances, your parents are the most cherished people in your life. And it can be difficult to face the reality of what moving them into one of these locations means.
They lose a measure of independence. You face the sobering reality of getting older. You face the unenviable task of explaining the change to young family members.
But this move needn’t be a depressing one. This especially is true when you understand the difference between assisted living and nursing home care.
How Does Assisted Living Work?
When your parents move into an assisted living facility, they’re transitioning into independent living facilities where they still have the freedom to come and go as they please. The concept packs numerous amenities into the same location as on-site medical care, prepared meals, and provided transportation.
Your parents essentially have all the things they need to carry on in their independence to the extent their physical conditioning will allow. Nursing home care, in contrast, requires more intensive oversight and medical intervention.
How to Get Parents Into Assisted Living
Clearly, you’d prefer to choose from only the best assisted living facilities. But there currently are more than 28,000 in the US alone. So how do you know which ones are best?
The answer: it varies. What’s good for one, may not be good for another. You can make the best choice by avoiding these seven mistakes.
1. Choosing an Assisted Living Community That Does Not Fit Your Parents
You visit a facility with your parents and fall in love with the place. It has all the modern amenities that you’d want if you were staying there. Only one problem.
You’re not the one staying there. It will be your parents’ new home, and they may have different sensibilities. They may not be as taken with the Jacuzzi room or the flat-screen televisions or large lobby spaces.
You have to keep that in mind. Choose what they want; not what you would want.
2. Not Seeking Help
It takes a lot of work to find a facility that’s both affordable and the right fit. It helps to seek help.
On the financial side, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) notes, annual costs of assisted living care range from $25,000 to more than $50,000. And while your parents may have options like Medicare savings programs or VA disabilityto help, it remains an uphill climb.
Not seeking help also may mean that you end up deciding on a choice too quickly, simply going by surface looks and single visits. You’ll also want to study each facility’s rules, policies, and fine print to keep from getting in over your head.
3. Picking a Close Location Instead of the Right Facility
Many families think if they simply pick an assisted living facility close to their own homes, everything will be perfect. But this thought process ignores a simple reality.
That reality: you can’t be with your parents every waking minute to take care of all their needs. If you could, there would be very little point in putting them anywhere other than a spare bedroom at your house.
No, the more practical thing to do is to pick based on quality rather than geography. Most states help you out by keeping a database with facility report cards and inspection reports.
The easiest way to do this is to search “assisted living report card” and your state name. Or, if you’re familiar with the state agency tracking it, go directly to their website.
4. Acting Strictly on Referrals
Referrals are great for things like restaurants, products, and service providers. But when it comes to human beings, it gets a little trickier.
That’s because no two adults are alike. Your parents will not have the same sensibilities, the same health needs, the same financial resources, as a friend’s.
Don’t take this as permission to dismiss a referral entirely. If a person is referring you based on a similarity between their parent and your own, that may be worth basing your decision. But don’t blindly follow someone else’s experience, or else your parents could end up in someone else’s idea of a great facility instead of their own.
5. Not Visiting Enough Facilities
Report cards are great for separating the good from the bad. But they pale in comparison to an in-person visit.
Think about it. Even if you put your parents in the first facility you see, you still wouldn’t do it without checking the place out. So what makes you think you won’t find a better place with subsequent drop-ins?
Make sure you’re not going all-in on the first facility you see. There are others out there deserving of the time and money. And you won’t know if they’re the best until you actually see them.
6. Getting It Over With
Yes, we know it can be a frustrating thing to research facilities, make the short list, and pay multiple visits to get a sense of where your parents will be living. But you have to do it.
Don’t rush through the process. Doing so would increase the chances that you miss key warning flags, such as:
- High turnover of employees
- Record of violations
- Negative feelings that aren’t immediately recognizable on initial visits
Trust your instincts. But don’t mistake that with simply wanting to get the decision-making process over with. Your parents deserve more.
7. Excluding Future Plans from the Decision
It’s important you think long-term with your parents’ assisted living care. Thinking long-term means you find a facility that’s equipped of handling all the potential ailments your parents might face.
For example, you may think a facility is ideal for your parents when they first move in — and it may well be — but what if Mom or Dad gets Alzheimer’s and the facility doesn’t have an Alzheimer’s Care Unit in place to provide the level of care you would want for your loved one?
Face future scenarios head-on before ever making the move. And make sure you’re choosing a facility that can provide the full continuum of care.
An Assisted Living Facility Can Be a Gift
That’s because it can extend the years of your parents as well as the quality of those years. But you’ve got to choose an assisted living facility that suits all their needs and probable future needs. And if you need any help understanding the elder benefits your parents may be eligible for, read why you need us here.