By Holly Hall, Senior Director of Marketing, Meadows Communities
Today in the United States, nearly one million people enjoy the benefits of residing in a senior assisted living community. These residents chose senior living because — like you — they want to remain active and engaged, they value their independence, and they appreciate quality of life.
With more than 31,000 licensed assisted-living communities across the country, you have a variety of options from which to choose. Whether you are looking at assisted living for yourself, or for a loved one, be sure to tour the community and consider location, the types of care and residential services that are offered, the size and availability of apartments, the cost of living there, and most importantly the way you feel when you visit or spend time in the community.
Is the community well designed for your needs? Is it clean, free of odors, and appropriately heated/cooled? Does the appearance and décor appeal to you? Are doorways, hallways, and apartments accommodating to your needs? Do you receive a warm greeting from the staff? Do residents interact and appear happy and comfortable? If possible, talk to residents and ask them for their opinion.
Whether you plan to continue driving your own vehicle, or plan to utilize the community’s transportation, you and your guests want to be able to conveniently and safely come and go. Are roads safe, well lit, and able to accommodate traffic to and from the community?
Types of care available:
Is there a nurse on staff? Is staff available to provide assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed? ADLs include dressing, eating, mobility, hygiene and grooming, bathing and toileting. Is there a process for assessing a resident’s need for services? Is there a written plan of care for each resident, and how frequently is the plan reviewed and updated? What medication management options are available? Are additional services, such as physical or occupational therapy or hospice available? Be sure to also gather information about the quality of care provided. Speak to individuals or families who have had experience with the community and ask about the quality of care they received.
Residential services and amenities:
The most common services and amenities offered in senior assisted living communities are dining services, housekeeping, transportation, laundry services, wellness and fitness programs, and social and recreational activities. Is there evidence of organized activities, such as a posted activities schedule? Do residents have the opportunity to participate in outside activities, such as plays, concerts, dining, and shopping? Is there an area designed for fitness or wellness activities? Find out details about services such as housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and maintenance.
Dining is an important part of resident life in an assisted living community. When visiting a community, you may have the opportunity to experience the dining. Ask about meal times, menu options, and the ability to have guests for meals. May a resident request special foods, and can the community accommodate special dietary needs?
What sizes and types of apartments are available? Are residents able to bring their own furnishings? Is a 24-hour emergency response system accessible? What utilities are provided? Is ample closet or storage space available?
Is an entrance or community fee required? What is the monthly service fee and what services are included? Are there additional costs for various levels or categories of personal care? Is there an additional fee for medication management? What additional costs may be incurred as a resident of the community? Do billing, payment, and credit policies seem fair and reasonable?
What steps must take place to become a resident of the community? Is there a wait list? Is a deposit required? Is a residency agreement available for review? Is a consumer disclosure form available that discloses personal care and supportive services, all fees, as well as move-in and move-out procedures? What are the policies for refunds and transfers? Some communities offer the opportunity to place your name on a future residency list, so that you may be better prepared for a move to the community in the future.
Every assisted living community is unique, and researching and considering your options is important. Tour assisted living communities early, before a crisis, and carefully compare the information you gather. By doing so, you’ll have the information you need to help you find the community that is right for you or your loved one.
Sources referenced in the writing of this article include: The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), www.alfa.org.
For more information about senior living, you may contact Holly Hall, Senior Director of Marketing at Meadows Communities, 309-268-1501. Meadows Communities offers a full range of senior living options — independent living, Independent Living-Plus!, assisted living, skilled nursing care, memory care, respite care, and Achieve! Wellness and Rehab Therapy — with two locations: Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community in Chenoa and Meadows at Mercy Creek in Normal. Visit www.meadowscommunities.org to learn more.
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