Planning the future for your loved ones

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted Living Facilities are for those who need help with their personal care. It is unlikely you would move into one for the sole purpose of dying there. These are most appropriate for people, usually elders, who are fairly independent and make their own decisions about their activities. However, they may need some help with activities like bathing, dressing, preparing food, taking medications, or require closer observation.

Aside from monitoring some vital signs, such as weight and temperature, and giving you your medications, they are not involved in your medical care. They will be able to respond in the event that you need care, including:

  • if you need medical services, such as a visiting nurse or having blood drawn, they will come to you;
  • in the event you become very ill you will be admitted to the hospital; and/or
  • if/when you are approaching the end of your life, hospice will care for you there.
When choosing an assisted living facility, it is most important to consider your level of comfort. Other considerations include the facility, staff, meals, and services.

All areas in the facility should be easy to get around in and have:

  • doorways and walkways that easily accommodate walkers and wheelchairs;
  • elevators as an alternative to stairs;
  • an outdoor area;
  • rooms with features you desire, such as windows, kitchenette, bathroom handrails, etc.; and/or
  • clean and well-maintained common rooms. 

Ask about services you want, including:

  • interesting activities or clubs for you, including fitness programs;
  • scheduled transportation or on-demand transportation;
  • housekeeping and laundry services;
  • hairdresser, barber, or other personal grooming services; and/or
  • religious services.

Important medical care considerations include:

  • How are medications handled? 
    • Can you self-administer medications?
    • How is this done if you need assistance managing medications?
  • How medical emergencies and non-emergency medical situations are handled?
  • How visits from physical therapists, occupational therapists, medical specialists, and physicians are scheduled?
  • What degree of medical care is provided by the facility, including nursing coverage and the number of aides?
  • How long before you would need to move to another type of care facility?

Important staff qualities include being:

  • warm and welcoming to residents and families;
  • kind and respectful with residents, including referring to them by their names;
  • helpful and attentive, but not overworked; and/or
  • able to communicate clearly with residents, families, and other caregivers, without language or communication barriers.

Other important considerations for staff members include:

  • If they wear nametags;
  • If they knock before entering a resident’s room;
  • If there is adequate personnel during weekdays, weekends and holidays, evenings, and overnight;
  • If they have consistent caregivers on a daily basis, as possible; and/or
  • If they’ve been vetted via background checks to ensure they haven’t been found guilty of abuse or neglect.

You should be comfortable with the residents and the facility culture by determining if:

  • the current residents seem happy and comfortable;
  • the residents socialize with each other;
  • you are able to talk with residents about their experience at the facility;
  • you think that you and your roommate will get along when you are considering sharing a room; and/or
  • there are other options if you don’t.

In order to be sure meals are enjoyable you should:

  • be sure the menu appeals to you and the kitchen can accommodate religious or medical dietary needs;
  • observe or participate in a meal at the facility; and/or
  • ask about the option of eating in your room rather than in the dining room or a packaged meal, bringing non-resident guests to dinner, holiday dining schedules, and if alcohol is served/available at meals.

Since assisted living facilities provide much less care, they are generally more affordable. 

  • The cost may range from $2,400 to $4,950 a month for a private room.
  • Most are not covered by federal Medicare programs (some state programs do) or most other insurances.

Checklist: Questions To Consider When Choosing An Assisted Living Facility. everplans website.