Choosing a Senior Living Facility

How to Choose a Senior Care Facility

One of the toughest decisions made by a family can be whether or not it is time to consider an alternative living arrangement for a senior. Thankfully, there are many different available options with a variety of services which can help provide exactly the right level and type of care needed. Before choosing a facility, however, it's important to take the right steps.

1. Determine the level of care you need.

Options for care differ by the degree of service provided. If your loved one is able to ambulate on their own or with a cane, walker, or wheelchair, and needs only minimal assistance with meals, getting dressed, bathing, or medication control, an assisted living facility may be the perfect place for them.

If your loved one needs more extensive medical care and full support with their daily activities, consider a nursing home.

Finally, if your loved one has Alzheimer's or another progressive disease which causes dementia, consider a center which specializes in memory care and has the appropriate safeguards in place to ensure your loved one's safety.

2. Determine your budget for senior care.

If your loved one does not have long-term care insurance or any other income to finance their care, you and your family need to carefully assess your options. Medicaid may be an option for paying for a nursing home or an assisted living facility, but many seniors will not qualify for any long-term care until they have depleted a substantial portion of their income, assets, and investments (certain assets and income may be exempt).

Long-term care is very expensive. For example, a nursing home could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per month. Other assisted living facilities may be less expensive averaging $3,600 per month. If your loved one needs more intensive memory care you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $7,000 per month.

3. Search for a facility

After you have identified the level of care your loved one needs and your monthly budget for care, you can start your search for a facility. Talk to family and friends. Other searches can be done through the U.S. Administration on Aging, the Medicaid site, The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, and A Place for Mom, which is one of the largest senior information advisory services in the United State with information on close to 20,000 senior care facilities.

4. Visit properties

Although talking to friends and family and completing research online are great places to start your search, you should never choose a facility without a visit to the property. Make sure to contact the administrator and make an appointment for your onsite visit.

During your visit pay attention as you walk the halls. Do the workers seem calm and cheerful? Is the facility clean? Are the residents in common areas and engaged with each other? Are there appropriate daily programs and activities to encourage physical and social interaction?

If your loved one needs memory care be sure and review the safety standards and security of the facility. Also, review the ratio of staff to residents and ensure that a doctor makes regular visits to the facility.