Choosing an Assisted Living Community: Crisis or Controlled Decision

Choosing Senior Assisted Living Communities Twin Cities MNCan you imagine being told that you have to find an assisted living apartment to move into by Friday and today is Tuesday?

Alicia was told that recently. That happens in Care Centers with rehabilitation wings, otherwise known as Transitional Care Units (TCUs) frequently.

If you have elderly parents or loved ones, starting conversations early about their wishes should this happen to them, is a wise decision. Over 90 percent of seniors over the age of 65 want to remain in their own home, however, research shows that about two thirds of seniors are unable to do so because they need assistance performing activities of daily living (ADLs).

Having a “Plan B” is a good idea just in case your loved one is one of those seniors that are unable to remain in their home. If a friend or loved one experienced a fall and was hospitalized, that may be a good time to start a conversation that could go something like this. “Mom, I know that (insert name) fell and I’m not sure if she’s going to be able come back home after she recovers. If something like that were to happen to you, have you thought about what you would like to do?”

Many times a crisis occurs and there hasn’t been a conversation about what they would prefer. In crisis, options are not as clear, you are already in a stressful situation and there isn’t the time to discover and have the control a senior would like to have when choosing a new home. Even though many assisted living facilities today have some vacancies, not all of them do. If memory care is needed, finding a good option is even more difficult. Ideally, this decision should be made over a month or more. Comparing three to five communities is recommended. Narrow your choice after the initial visits and then go back a second time. Most communities welcome treating a potential future resident to a meal. They can also arrange to have you dine with one of their residents so you can find out from them directly what they think of living there.

Key areas to focus on are: Staffing; what is the resident to staff ratio? Is it their staff or contracted staff? Costs; rent and care amounts. All places charge differently so it’s important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Do they take medical assistance if funds are depleted or do they ask you to move out? Food and Nutrition; Do they have a chef and dietitian on staff and can they accommodate special diets. Care levels; are they able to accommodate a two person transfer or one on one care if needed.

To Alicia, finding a facility that offered Catholic mass frequently was important to her. Fortunately she was able to find an option that fit her preferences and needs; however, doing so under a tight time line was not ideal.

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