Top questions to ask when searching for assisted living

It’s a best practice to plan well in advance for any serious life events and general life needs, such as retirement and financial planning. Of course senior housing or senior living is another major need that people often overlook or ignore when planning for the future. “It is best to begin planning while the elder is still making his or her own decisions and can be an avid part of the family home,” said Vineyard Bluffton Executive Director Kaylynn Evans. “If the family waits too long and brings in the elder after he or she has had a chronic accident/or condition, it becomes a very heavy load for everyone in the family to carry. It is important to plan and make sure that a home health agency comes in to takes the burden off of those who are living in their home,” she added.

The following questions are just a few of many that should be reviewed a few years (optimally) before there is a need for assisted living.

What will mine or my parents’ care needs be in 5 to 10 years

Even if your loved one needs assisted living now, look down the road one, two or even 10 years in case memory care is needed or if they may need care for a spouse later on. It’s good to know what options and services are available for different scenarios.

For example, if your father enters an assisted living facility and has some dementia now, but may need extensive memory care in a couple years, does this facility have a memory care wing and if so, could his wife join him in the adjoining facility?

What’s the level of care the facility provides?

Some senior housing only offers limited care such as assisted living. Others only offer skilled nursing. Some facilities take Medicare and Medicaid and others do not. There are many assisted living centers which do not have memory care services. Also, independent living is in another different category while 55+ communities are almost as ‘active’ as millennial housing. So the type of housing you or your family needs now or will need is very varied and in more rural areas, the choices will be much more limited. This is another very valid reason to begin your review and search of care well before it’s truly needed.

What are ALL of services are included in the rates/packages?

When comparing senior living facilities, their rates and packages you need to ask if there are extra fees for administering medicine and how ‘many pills’ does that package include? How many showers per week are included (if bathing assistance is needed)? Are snacks included in the package rate? Is transportation to a hospital or physician included or is it extra? What about field trips or extracurricular activities such as crafts or going to the local theater?

These questions just scratch the surface of what you will need to cover for your senior housing needs, but as you do your research the questions and information should provide an outline for your roadmap to senior housing planning.