Assisted Living Checklist: What to Know Before Choosing a Facility

An assisted living facility will provide the care for your loved one needs at their advanced age. Yet, your knowledge of them may have formed from a mix of ideas and hearsay. Or, with what you’ve picked up from the media.

Assisted living facilities are quite the contrast of yesteryear.

Regardless, you want what’s best for your loved one. Your due diligence can make the difference in basic care to the whole wellbeing. This article shares an assisted living checklist to help with your ultimate decision.

Let’s work through the list.

Covering the Basics: The Assisted Living Facility Types and Their Benefits

We’d all love to take parents in and care for them as they did for us. But, we have our lives to live and families to grow. This makes the choice tough as we find balance in caring for our elders and living our own.

Ask yourself — and your loved one — are they…

  • Active
  • Cognitive
  • Lively
  • Reserved
  • Stubborn

…and other personal traits that define who they are.

Your loved one’s current (and future) lifestyle can shape your decision. An active elder may enjoy a facility offering independent living. Those with needs may find better placement in a continuous care retirement community.

Here are what each entails:

  • Independent living — Affordable housing within a senior community
  • Assisted living — Communal housing with activities and onboard aids
  • Skilled nursing facility — A nursing home with rehab and aid
  • Continuous care retirement community — Central locale with healthcare

Talk with your loved one about which they’d prefer but be honest about its affordability. Outline the positives and negatives with each option. And, consider their health and conditions in the coming years.

Getting into the Details: Questions to Ask Facility Personnel and What to Expect

The pre-screening narrowed the type and selection. The assisted living “talk” preps you when ticking the boxes on the checklist. You’re now ready to compare.

The following are questions worth asking when researching facilities:

  1. What is the price?
  2. Are there openings?
  3. What are the community activities?
  4. What healthcare services are available on-site?
  5. How are emergencies handled?

The introductory materials will cover the answers to many of your questions. Yet, don’t forgo asking those in smaller positions as they won’t likely have a bias. Ask staff members in the kitchen, cleaning, and the like. 

Get into the financials:

  1. How are payments accepted?
  2. What are the billing policies?
  3. What other services should I know about?

And, don’t forget the safety:

  1. Does my loved one receive an individual care plan?
  2. Does the staff administer medications?
  3. Has there been crime at this location?

Don’t absorb the questions at face value.

Get a read on their body language, too, seeing how they present themselves. Sometimes your gut feeling about a person is correct!

Remember, facilities are businesses wanting clientele. The people you talk with will say what you want to hear. Compare their word to your research to find the hidden truth of your selection.

Doing the Due Diligence: Last Checks before Settling In and Lifestyle Change

1 in 6 over the age of 60 has experienced elder abuse. This is a sad reality but an eye-opening fact to consider before finalizing the decision. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of making last-minute checks.

What final checks can you make on the assisted living checklist?

Tour the Location

Take a trip (without your loved one) to the facility and look around. Be meticulous with your examination down to the finest details.

Look for things like:

  • General cleanliness
  • Staff-to-resident ratio
  • Community activity
  • Friendliness and openness
  • Food and drink quality

Tour it like you would an apartment or daycare for your children. Scrutinize the details and trust your gut if something seems amiss. Don’t gloss over the signs of neglect by staff or its community.

Repeat this for each of your top 3 – 5 locations before narrowing it down to one.

Look-up the Credentials

Assisted living facilities carry a myriad of licenses and credentials. You may find this information located on your local government websites. Or, by conducting a generalized search using business directories which list these items.

You should also consider checking:

  • Backgrounds
  • Sex offender listings
  • Aliases

This may seem an invasion of privacy. But, this is the due diligence you should perform to ensure the safety of your loved one.

Take time getting to know the administrator, staff, and volunteers. If necessary, confront them with your concerns and have them provide documents. These documents should already be available, so you shouldn’t get resistance.

Ask the Community

Ask two groups what it’s like at the facility:

  • The residents
  • The families

Use your time touring the location to talk with the current residents. Ask what they think about their time at the facility. Prod at questions about the quality of life, wellbeing, and safety.

Likewise, see if you can reach the family of the residents. Check if they’ve left reviews on the facility business listings and get in touch. They may provide insight from their experience and what’s passed from their loved one.

Make a Personal Checklist

The post covers a lot to ponder when deciding on a location. But, don’t stop there. Create a checklist of your own with input from your loved one.

Create sections including:

  • Safety
  • Legal
  • Financial

Have areas where you can jot notes on your observations. In the end, you can compare these notes side-by-side. You and your loved one can list the pros and cons of each before coming to a conclusion.

The list should incorporate the finer details about your loved one (eg. lifestyle). This will do more help in finding a great location than comparing general items.

The whole Wellbeing is More than an Assisted Living Checklist

It’s easy using an assisted living checklist to run through ideas. But, every case is different because your loved one has a lifetime of experiences. The nudge for them to check-in should always fall on their decision.

Your loved one has years to go and much more to do. See what’s out there and work together in finding the best options for each party.

Want to continue your research into eldercare solutions? See our eldercare guides as the answers to all your questions.