Those considering a move into an assisted living community — for themselves or a loved one — may be overwhelmed by the options or the factors they should consider in making the choice. While a move to assisted living is certainly personal, and something each person or family must make given their own unique considerations, there are some questions everyone should ask when considering a specific community.
Start with these questions when you're interviewing someone from a prospective community or visiting one, and ask anything else that helps you determine if a location might be right for you.
Some people are interested in making a lasting move, so they want a community that has various levels of care. That might include independent living, assisted living and memory care. While residents might need to change apartments or locations within a community to move into a new level of care, they can remain in the overall community that they've become comfortable and familiar with.
Independence can be important for older adults, so looking for a community that supports it at every level of care might be a critical part of your search. Ask:
• How the design of living spaces helps support safety and independence
• Whether the community offers programs to support seniors in caring for themselves and managing exercise, diet and medication
• Whether residents can make their own decisions about meals, participating in activities and their day-to-day schedules
What's important to one older adult may not be a big deal to others, so you want to choose an assisted living community that has the amenities you're most interested in. Some of the amenities offered by various communities under the Bethesda Senior Living Communities umbrella include libraries, computer centers, housekeeping and laundry services, country kitchens and cafes, gardens and walking paths and exercise spaces.
It's also a good idea to ask about the types of medical and health services that are offered at a community. Is there an on-site pharmacy so you can easily fill prescriptions and keep up with your meds without heading into town? Can you get access to medical assistance at any time of day if you need it, and are there staff members who can help track vital signs or manage medication?
Health and wellness services at assisted living communities can range from basics such as exercise and nutrition programs to specialty options like podiatry. Think about what's important for your health needs and whether a community supports that.
Various communities have different policies on how people can come and go, including whether residents can drive their own cars. Find out what the policy is at any community you're considering and whether it aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.
One of the best benefits of moving into an assisted living community is that it's so easy to be social. But that's only true if the community in question sponsors activities and has a robust calendar of events each month. Ask to see the calendar of events to find out if the community hosts activities that are of interest to you. You may also want to ask whether the activity directors plan outings into the community on a regular basis or if there's scheduling transportation for shopping and cultural events.
Obviously, you don't want to move into a new home without knowing what the living situation is. Review floor plans and, if possible, get a tour so you can see exactly what the apartments look like. In our communities, apartments range from small studios to spacious two-bedroom companion suites. All are designed to provide a comfortable, independent lifestyle for residents.
Costs are obviously a concern for many people, so make sure you know what the monthly fees are for a community and what they cover. Consider the whole picture as you think about price; if your monthly payment covers your living space, utilities, Wi-Fi, cable, three meals a day and regular social activities, the price may be well worth it. You'll also want to talk about whether insurance or other long-term care financial arrangements can kick in to help cover the costs of assisted living.
You might want to have the grandkids over for dinner or have a loved one from another state visit for a few days. Find out what the policy is on visitors and whether anyone can stay overnight in your assisted living apartment or if you can have visitors dine with you.
These questions are just a starting point, but the answers can help you begin to determine which community might be the best place for you or your loved one.