There are a number of factors that determine if and when it is appropriate for a person to move to an assisted living community. Readiness involves the individual’s medical conditions, their cognitive abilities, their desire and need for additional socialization, their level of risk for falls, wandering or any sort of impairment and the level of assistance they require with the everyday activities of daily living and medication management.
In any given location, there are a number of communities to choose from, but not every community is equally well-suited for each prospective resident. For many, the pandemic has added another layer of complexity to the process of choosing a community for this loved one. It is prudent to find out in advance how communities handle communication, crisis management and the unexpected. When touring virtually or in person, be aware of the type of impression you get from the community. In addition to pleasing surroundings, happy residents and friendly staff, look for a layout that is easy to navigate and an environment that feels cozy rather than institutional. As you start the search process, it can be helpful to begin by looking at geography and type of care.
Determine the Ideal Location
One of the first steps is to identify a geographic location that works best for you and your family. For example, some people find it convenient to visit their relative on the way to or from work, so they look for a location near their office. Others may be retired or may visit their relative primarily on the weekends, so they look for a community closer to their home.
Learn How to Know If Assisted Living Is Needed
Different communities offer different types of care. By clarifying for yourself why you have decided to look for a community at this time you will be able to better determine what type of care your loved one needs. For example, your mom may have cognitive issues and is not safe living at home alone anymore, or your dad may be very isolated and may often seem to be depressed.
Clarifying the type of community and location will help you narrow the search. Here are some initial questions to consider and ask as you research, tour and interview assisted living communities.
Inquire if the Care Evolves with the Needs of the Individual
It is important to understand the various levels of independence and care that differentiate independent living communities, assisted living communities and skilled nursing communities (sometimes referred to as nursing homes). Senior living is a term that is sometimes applied to independent living as well as assisted living, and memory care may be offered at any of these. Some communities offer multiple levels of care and are able to customize their care plans to each resident as his or her needs evolve and change. Communities that offer a wide span of care services can also be helpful for couples that have different healthcare needs.
Ask What Special Services are Available
Some assisted living communities are able to offer higher levels of care. If you think your loved one may need specialized care, be sure that the community will be able to meet their needs. Explore how the community cares for residents with memory or cognitive issues or degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis. Ask what type of specialized training staff receive.
Inquire About Socialization
One of the most important benefits of any type of senior living community is the opportunity to make connections, maintain regular social interaction and avoid isolation. Ask what types of social, educational, cognitive and spiritual programs or activities are available for residents. Socialization is important for people of all ages, but for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia it can be extremely important and can help reduce anxiety, aggression and agitation.
Ask to Speak with a Resident or Family Member
While touring a community, ask to speak with a resident or a relative of a resident. Often a first-hand account will offer valuable insight into daily life in a particular community. Ask what they like best (and least) about the community. See what Lighthouse’s residents and families have to say.
Ask What Precautions are Taken to Prevent the Spread of Communicable Diseases
Older adults are at greater risk for serious complications from seasonal flu and pneumonia. Ask what protocols are followed to protect residents. Other communicable diseases pose a threat as well. Ask about screening procedures for staff and guests.
Other Questions to Ask Assisted Living Communities
The below list of additional questions may also be helpful to have on hand when researching and touring assisted living communities:
- How are staff trained and educated, and what is the average tenure?
- What is the ratio of residents to staff?
- Is round-the-clock (24/7) care available?
- Do staff work in other locations and/or is staffing from a nursing pool used?
- What are the infection control protocols?
- What process is in place for communicating with families?
- What types of dining options are available?
- Do residents go on trips outside of the community?
- Is there an outdoor area that residents can use in good weather?
- Is pricing inclusive, or are there add-ons for different services?
- How are levels of care determined?
Selecting an assisted living community for a loved one is an incredibly important task. As you tour communities, take time to observe, listen and ask questions. Lighthouse Senior Living has a highly credentialed, caring medical staff and skilled supportive care team. Contact us today to schedule a virtual tour or in-person tour of our close-knit communities, located in Columbia-Ellicott City and Essex-Middle River.