No one is ever ready to make the heart wrenching decision to move a loved one from home to assisted living. But the time may come when it’s necessary not only for your loved one’s good but yours.
I’m frequently asked how to find the “right” assisted living facility. I caution caregivers by saying that the right facility for someone may be the wrong facility for your loved one. What is pleasing and important for one can be distasteful and unimportant to another. Also keep in mind that it will not be “home”, so some adjustments and acquiesces must be made. You should also be aware that there are many styles and sizes of facilities out there. Some are large accommodating 16 or more residents, while others house as few as three. Some look and feel like hotels, while others are very home-like. When seeking an Assisted Living Facility always use your loved one’s preferences as a guide, not yours. Knowing your loved one’s life style and what appeals to his or her senses will make the search easier. However, there are some important things to look for when “shopping”:
- Is the facility able to provide the level-of-care your loved one needs? If you aren’t sure what that level-of-care is, call the local Area Agency on Aging for guidance and request an evaluation.
- What kind of training does the staff have and do they get continuing education?
- What is the staff to resident ratio? Will your loved one get the attention he or she needs?
- What safety measures are in place like call bells, lifeline, or alarmed doors?
- Are special diets offered? How are the meals prepared and by whom? Will they cater to your loved one’s food preferences?
- Can your loved one bring some of his or her furniture and personal items?
- Can you stop by unannounced? If the answer is no, pass on this one.
- Are there any bodily waste odors? If yes, residents may not be adequately attended to.
- Is the home clean and inviting from your and your loved one’s perspective?
- What activities are provided and how often?
- Are there other residents who share your loved one’s interests and will he or she be able to establish friendships with them?
- Are there any complaints, judgments, or deficiencies against the home? Check with the Area Agency on Aging at the local or state level.
Keep your loved one involved in the decision-making after-all it will be his or her home.
Remember that staff can’t replace the love and attention of family. Most important, remember that your role as a caregiver doesn’t end. You may need to be his or her eyes, ears, and mouth, so don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate for your loved one’s care.
Blessings for a happy holiday season.
Mary C. Fridley