One of the first questions you may have concerning the elderly is whether a nursing home and assisted living are considered the same type of care. Generally, the nursing home offers more of a hands-on approach to nursing and medical care. In contrast, the assisted living facility is for those that require some assistance in daily activities.
The living space in each assisted living facility will vary. Most of the time you will find individual arrangements, such as small suites, apartments, or single rooms. Some places offer shared rooms. They may come furnished, but most will allow you to furnish them yourself. It’s always nice to have a few personal items around to help you feel at home.
Assisted Living Units
Individual unit features may include lockable doors, wheelchair ready bathrooms, and a 24-hour emergency alert system. Some units come furnished with a cooking area. It may include a refrigerator, cooking element, as well as a sink. Check to see if there a smoking area if this is needed. If the unit is not furnished, what is allowed? Cable is often provided, but it is always good to check.
Overall Layout Important
Walk the facility to get a general feeling of the overall layout. In addition, look to see if the layout of the building is easy to follow and handrails are in place. Do you like the decor as well as the type of interior lighting? Is there storage that is easy to reach? Take a walk around the outside. Check to see if there are walking paths, benches, and table with chair sets. Are the buildings and landscaping attractive and well maintained?
Also, determine what services are offered. Prepared meals are generally a part of the monthly cost. The plan can include one to three meals a day. Assisted bathing and dressing along with other personal care is often included. Additionally, laundry and housekeeping generally come with the plan. Medication should be monitored along with 24-hour emergency alert. There should be some limited medical care on site. Many facilities provide recreational and social events. Don’t be shy to ask lots of questions.
If possible, talk to other residents or their families.When checking out a facility, make note of the physical condition of the residents. Check to see if they are clean and appropriately dressed. Ask about the personal hygiene schedule. You may want to know if transportation is provided for shopping, medical and hairdressing appointments, as well as other activities. Do they offer pharmaceutical delivery?
Each facility has its own social as well as physical environment. This will be your or your loved one’s new home. A friendly environment is vital to maintain good health. Again, check out the residents, including how they are spending their time. Do they look like they are happy, enjoying themselves, and socially active? Is their function level compatible with your loved one? Be sure to ask about the social activities the facility provides. Getting out on day trips is refreshing. Attending programs that are fun releases the tedium of daily living with health concerns.
Cost and Billing Procedures
View the contract to see what the basic rate will cover (read the fine print). Specifically, ask if there are ways that the cost can be, at least partially covered. Check outside agencies such as Medicare or Medicaid, corporate or private funds. Check on costs that you will be adding that the facility does not cover. Ask about billing and payment procedures.
Although it will take some time and effort to get your elderly loved one established in the right assisted living environment, you will be comforted to know that an informed decision has been made.