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What Families Should Know about Assisted Living

Unless you have been through the process before or work in one of the settings, it is sometimes hard to figure out the difference between a nursing home and assisted living.

If you are wondering if an assisted living community is the right option for your loved one, here are a few things that might help you decide!

Residents are encouraged to be independent and set their own schedules.

A popular misconception about assisted living is that residents will give up their freedom of choice and no longer be independent. In reality, residents at an assisted living community have the ability to come and go as they please. They are free to participate in as many – or as few – activities as they choose. Some communities even allow their residents to have their cars on site in the event they want to leave and go somewhere.

Private apartments and suites are standard.

Another major worry for families is that their loved one will lose their privacy once they make the move to assisted living. While there are plenty of opportunities for your loved one to enjoy companionship of a neighbor, every resident will have their own apartment and space. Some communities offer semi-private apartments to help with monthly costs or to increase socialization among their loved one, however, that is optional and not required.

Base monthly fees include housing, utilities, meals, and more.

When families only see the cost of a community it can sometimes deter them because they simply do not know what that costs includes. The base monthly fee usually includes the apartment, utilities, cable, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, wellness programs, activities, and well-balanced meals.

Residents can be as active as they choose.

One of the many perks of an assisted living community is that they offer a robust activities program. Typically activities programs include arts and crafts, book clubs, musical entertainment, movie nights, religious services, chair yoga, swimming, and outings to local restaurants and shopping centers. While many seniors enjoy participating in at least a few activities a day, they are not required. Residents are free to participate in as many or as few programs and events as they desire.

Pets are sometimes welcome.

Assisted living communities are often pet-friendly. Many recognize that pets are family members, too, and that they help to make the transition easier. An older adult might not be willing to move unless their pets can join them. Talk with staff at the assisted living communities you visit to learn about their pet policies. Most have limits on size, weight, and the older adult’s ability to care for the pet independently.

What questions should you ask on an assisted living tour?

Touring assisted living communities for the first time can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you do not know what questions to ask. It can be difficult to know what to look for and what to ask. Here are a few questions that can help you gain a better understanding of the communities you tour and how they operate.

How does the community hire and train caregivers?

Delivering quality care to those who live in the community requires experienced and compassionate caregivers. It is good to know where team members are recruited and screened. Are backgrounds check done? It is also important to ask what kind of training team members undergo. What is the orientation process like? Inquire about the different levels of certifications.

What is the staff turnover rate?

When staff turnover is low, residents, caregivers, and families have an opportunity to get to know and trust one another. This promotes better continuity of care. It is important to keep in mind that the job of a caregiver is physically demanding. They are required to lift residents and spend countless hours on their feet. These can take a toll on the body. Caregiving can also be emotionally taxing. Befriending a senior and witnessing their health decline isn’t easy. Yet staff members do it throughout their careers.

What Is the staff to resident ratio?

One factor that greatly influences the quality of care and service provided at an assisted living community is the number of caregivers. When an assisted living community has an appropriate number of caregivers, they have to get to know your loved one and those that they care for. This relationship allows them to identify problems when they arise.

What happens when a resident’s needs change?

This can be a tough question because we don’t want to think about the worst, however, it’s important to look ahead and have a game plan for if and when things do begin to change.

What is, and isn’t, included in the monthly fee?

Each communities pricing structure is going to look different. This is a very important question to ask. Some communities include care, services, and amenities in one bundled price, while others have a base fee with additional charges for care and medications.

How often do monthly fees increase?

As is true for any business, operating expenses increase. Caregivers earn raises, the cost of supplies go up, and utilities and food costs increase. Ask how often rates typically change and how much notice you will be given.

Pay Attention to Relationships

One last word of advice is to pay attention to the interactions between staff and residents. Are interactions positive and friendly? Are residents happy and engaged in productive activities or conversations. Do staff members greet residents by name?

Our door is always open!

No matter what stage you are in for an assisted living community, we invite you to visit Oak Hill. Click here to book a tour. We look forward to seeing you soon!


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