How to Select an Assisted Living Community or Retirement Home for Your Parent

When our parent’s age we often have to grapple on the choice of how they will spend their waning years. Every year thousands of aged men and women eventually make their way to assisted living communities. The retirement homes are different with each having different strengths and challenges. While most retirement homes are generally open homes, there are those that are specifically geared towards catering to specific health needs of the aged. There are a number of factors to take into account before you choose assisted living elder home. Here are the top ten tips to guide you to find the right home.

1. Start Searching Before you Need it. You have to look for six months to a year before your loved one needs the assisted living care. You’ll probably never be able to figure out at what point your parent will need a retirement home. So start looking as early as possible. Scour through lists, interview them and even pay a visit. Judge them on the specific issues that you think will be primary for your parents. Once you are done with your research, keep a list of about 4 to 5 of the homes that most closely mirrors your parent’s needs. This will provide you with options when the time finally comes for them to settle into an assisted living community.

2. Take A Tour. It’s never enough to have an interview with the managers of the home. Pay the locations a visit. While there, interview some of the older people and watch the interaction between the staffers and the residents. Some sites like Medicare have an excellent checklist to use when visiting assisted living homes. When you have to choose assisted living elder home, pay attention to the food, time management, navigability of the property, general activities, attitude, cleanliness and attentiveness of the staffers. The best homes are those that most closely recreate the homeliness, pleasant feeling and general feel of a typical household.

3. Get Contracts & a List of the Facility’s Rules. Make sure you get the breakdown of rules and terms of engagement of each of the homes that you visit. Get a breakdown of the services they offer and contracts list of any fees. These should include the move-in and move out provisions as well as refund policies. The itemized list should include provisions for storage and administration of medicine. There are retirement homes that provide a care procedure for each resident in the home. You should also get a copy of the house rules. While at it, raise questions about any other issue that you deem critical for the comfort of your parents.

4. Compute The Costs. The truth is, most assisted living homes are very expensive. That’s why you have to carry out a review and make a decision based on their pricing information. There are those that charge a flat rate while other bill based on the services required. There are a number of government programs that generally lower the overall costs of a retirement home. Besides this, you are also dealing with the issue of renter’s insurance. Make sure you also inquire from the current residents on how often the rates go up and by how much. Based on this information its easier for you to make informed financial projections.

5. The Available Social, Recreational and Religious Activities. Activities are such a critical part of our lives in all the stages of growth. Most importantly activities in a retirement home enable your parent to bond, stave off loneliness and exercise his or her muscles. The best retirement homes have a weekly or monthly event schedule that details the kind of event, who’s in charge and how often they take place. If your parent is staunch in their religious devotion, you should get a home for them that has sessions for religious liturgy. Preferably get a home with a chapel or regular church services or mass.

6. Check the Facility’s Nutritional Plan. Given the aging issue your parents might need a special diet or at the very least a balanced diet. Therefore get the past menus and the nutritional plans that guide their food provisions. How many meals do they serve in a day? You also have to confirm if they cater for residents with allergies and other special dietary and nutritional needs. If you can, try out their meals. If allowed confirm the tidiness of the kitchen and the food storage unit. Do they have a proper dining room with dining sets?

7. Is Space Accommodative For Seniors? Does the facility have ramps, spacious hallways, uncluttered paths, and even elevators? Is it built with needed support bars and non-slipping flooring materials? Is the entire compound well marked with signage including entrances, washrooms, and exits? Does it have emergency evacuations and do the rooms have natural lighting. The best way to ascertain the viability of the home is to assess their periodical assessment reports by local authorities. Make sure they hand over a copy so that you can analyze it. This standard should also follow how the rooms are structured and the ease with which a senior can navigate it.

8. What Are The Outdoor Areas Like? Depending on your parents’ personality and preference they might spend an inordinately long amount of time outdoors. Therefore assess whether the facilities have the proper outdoors. These include walkways, seating spaces, canopies, outdoors furniture, etc. The home ought to ensure that there aren’t rocks, sharp fence posts and other hazards lying around. Beyond the safety and navigation does the outdoors have games and recreational areas? The best outdoors are those with a good measure of natural landscaping rather than merely long stretches of concrete floors. This will provide room for both on-ground and off-ground activities.

9. Compliance With State/Federal Laws Standards. Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facilities provide state and federal protection to the residents. There are also non-profit organizations like ProPublica who provide updated lists of retirement homes. Their information lists the fines, violations, and payment suspensions for thousands of nursing facilities across the country. The site compiles their files from the Medicaid and Medicare Services. Make sure you visit the site and find out the state of the few retirement homes that you are researching.

10. Evaluate The Staffers. You can ask the resident how the staffers treat them. While at it also inquire from managers if they conduct background checks on the employees and how well they do it. Ask about their professional and academic qualifications in regards to caring for the elderly. You should also find out if they have resident nurses and how they handle medical and general emergencies. Get to know who is in charge and the administrative structure of the facility. Find out the range of staffers that they have. Do they have a physical therapist, on-staff pharmacist, hair stylist, fitness instructor for the elderly?


Once you’ve done your background research you can then have the conversation with your parent. Let them select the home that they like from among the options. It is he or she who is going to live there, and they should choose that which makes them feel the most comfortable.

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