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The Assisted Living Decision: Getting the Timing Right

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The Assisted Living Decision: Getting the Timing Right

Harriet HodgsonSummary: Planning for and researching assisted living: Tips to help you to make the decision, saving time, and making the transition.
Author: Harriet Hodgson exclusively for Assisted Living Directory

Harriet is a regular contributor for Assisted Living Directory

My father-in-law moved to Assisted Living after he had a stroke and was unable to keep up with grocery shopping, cooking, and housekeeping. Each person has his or her own reasons for making the Assisted Living decision. What is Assisted Living?Making the assisted living decision requires early planning and research!

Thomas Day defines it in a National Care Planning Council website article, “About Assisted Living.” He says it’s an umbrella term that covers a variety of long-term services. Each state has its own definition and regulations vary widely. The terminology varies as well.

According to Day, Assisted Living is also called Residential Care, Personal Care, Adult Congregate Living, Board and Care, supported Care, Enhanced Care, Adult Homes, Sheltered Housing, Retirement Residences, Adult Foster Care, and Community-Based Retirement Facilities. The various terms and services can be confusing.

Time of Change

Some choose Assisted Living because of health problems, such as Parkinson’s disease. Others choose it to escape the isolation of living alone. Still others are tired of maintaining a home and the hassle that goes with it. Timing can be the difference between happiness and discontent.

The marketing director of my father-in-law’s high rise said the waiting list was 10 years out. “Most people make the Assisted Living decision too late,” he commented. “You should move in when you can still enjoy the activities program.” Learning about Assisted Living isn’t something you do on a weekend; it takes time.

Lead Time

Mayo Clinic discusses timing in a website article, “Long Term Care: Early Planning Pays Off.” The article tells people to start the search early. “If you wait, an injury or illness might force your hand – leading to a hasty decision that might not be best in the long run,” the article notes.

While there are many Assisted Living facilities in my home town of Rochester, MN, people are competing for them. Many move here because it’s the home of Mayo Clinic. In order to get an attractive, homey place, people must allow enough lead time.

“Assisted Living Facilities: Tips for Choosing a Facility and Making a Transition,” an article on the Help Guide website, says you should look for a place that feels like home. “Don’t place too much emphasis on surface appeal, such as designer furnishings, gourmet meals, and impeccable grounds,” the article advises.

Decision Time

These tips will help you make the Assisted Living decision and also save time.

• Tour the facility. Dad had visited friends and had dinner with them, but he had never toured the facility. We arranged for a tour that included visiting sample apartments.

• Start a file. Keep brochures, booklets, floor plans, cost sheets, and receipts in a large envelope or folder.

• Ask about extras. While extra services are available, they kite monthly expenses. Parking may cost extra, for example.

• Observe staff in action. Is the staff courteous? Do they respond quickly? How are medical emergencies handled?

• Talk with residents. The best people who give you reviews are the ones who live there. Ask about the food, housekeeping, activities, and other things that impact their lives.

• Does the facility meet health/safety requirements? Check the staff-resident ratio, emergency exists, number of elevators, and evacuation plan.

• Compare the costs. The cost of a unit depends on size and services. Different payment plans may also be available.

Copyright © by Harriet Hodgson

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- Article by Harriet Hodgson exclusively for Assisted Living Directory

Responses to this article:

Jeff Wrote:
I am in that point where I have to decide if I want to take my father to live in assisted living or not. Currently he is living with me, and I just can't decide when to make that change. I'm glad you mention that they should move in while they are still able to enjoy the activities they have at the facilities. I think he is clearly able to enjoy stuff like that right now, but I'm not so sure how long that will last. Thanks for the advice, i will have to talk to him about it.
29 January 2016 at 11:10 am

Sarah Wrote:
I have done lots of research on facilities for my mother, and I was amazed that some places have waiting lists that are over a year. Yes, start early is great advice indeed!
29 May 2012 at 10:18 am

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