Three Important Tips for Choosing Your Assisted Living Home

According to a recent study by CareScout, 70 percent of seniors 65 years and older will require a form of long-term care at some point in later life. That statistic makes it critical to choose wisely to find the right fit in senior housing for you or a loved one.

Peder Johnsen is the CEO of the Concordis Senior Living organization, which owns and operates senior housing communities. Johnsen suggests seniors needn’t sacrifice quality of life when moving into an assisted living facility (ALF). “In fact, a person who needs some assistance with day-to-day living will often find he or she is much happier in a good assisted-living community with an atmosphere that reminds them of their former home.” says Johnsen.

But shopping for the right ALF can feel like an overwhelming task and determining the quality of the residence is difficult for consumers. In addition to referrals, how should you choose?

Johnsen has these important tips:

  1. Ask to see the home’s state licensing survey – This is an assessment that usually includes any inspections, audits, interviews with residents and surveys. Johnsen shares, “Requirements vary from state to state about how often the surveys are conducted and how the public can access the reports, but no matter what state you live in, you should be able to ask the ALF for its most recent report, or obtain it from the licensing agency.”
  2. Plan a visit to the assisted living community during non-business hours – Drop in after dinner at times when administrators and marketing people aren’t likely to be around. Johnsen says, “Be a ‘mystery shopper’ and talk to residents, too.”
  3. Evaluate the community for its “homelike” qualities – Making independent choices, like when to eat meals is an example. “Depending on what’s important to your loved one, there are potentially many rules that can affect how ‘at home’ a person feels,” Johnsen says. “Some communities allow residents to have pets, others don’t. Some provide lots of activities. At some, residents can quickly and easily arrange for transportation or a service like hair styling.”

The Biggest Mistake Just as Johnsen suggests doing your homework and research into prospective ALF choices, he cautions that “ALFs are not federally regulated and states vary widely on the breadth of oversight they provide, so you can’t necessarily rely on the law.” When looking, Johnsen says, “And don’t rely on salespeople either – that’s the biggest mistake people make.”


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