Assisted living facilities cater to elderly residents who need help with daily tasks, such as bathing and dressing. They are not independent enough to live in retirement communities, but don’t need round-the-clock nursing care yet. 

Finding the right place requires time, patience and a research. You  want to visit several facilities, talk to staff and residents at each one, and check public records to find out which facilities might have violated codes governing cleanliness or patient care.

Figuring out when someone needs assisted living is no easy task, either. But there are common themes. At some point, a child recognizes a deterioration in a parent’s health and quality of life. They suggest that it may be time to find an assisted living center.  In many cases, the parent resists. Often they resist until a fall or some other health calamity forces the issue. Others are more open to it. In any case, it’s good to be prepared. The question now is, What should you be on the lookout for when you visit a place that could one day be your home or the home of a parent?

A lot depends on what your parent can afford. If they are dependent on Social Security income and government health care programs, your choice will be restricted to facilities that accept Medicaid. It’s possible your parent will be sharing a room with someone else.

If your parent has a big nest egg saved up and money is not an issue, you’ll have a lot more choices.

Once the decision is made to find an assisted living center, make a checklist of important criteria. The following are some of the most important issues you should investigate:

How much does it cost? A better question is: How much can you afford? Prices can range from a couple thousand dollars a month or less for residents who depend on Social Security and Medicaid to several thousand dollars a month for private-pay residents. The national average for assisted living base rates was $3,550 per month in 2012.

What does “24 hour care” mean? It doesn’t mean someone is watching you 24 hours a day, however, it should mean that if you need help, care is just minutes away..

What kinds of activities are offered? The goal is to have enough activities to prevent isolation, and in many cases, you want a place that can offer music, bunco, group outings, etc. that can keep you or your loved one happy and engaged.

What is the staff-to-resident ratio? There’s no set rule but if a place is understaffed, it usually results in poorer care. Try to get a gauge of your local facilities. Additionally, make sure you find out what type of medical services are available onsite. Some places have nurses who are limited in their ability to provide care. If you or your loved one seek higher care, this is an important element to investigate.

What is the food like? Tasty food is important, but how it is prepared is also important. For example, if you have high blood pressure, it’s important to have alternatives that are health conscious.

How is the quality of life? This may be determined by the desires of the individual. Do you like the outdoors and want nice green or flowery areas? Is there music?  Is the resident population “with it”?

Are pets allowed? Important for some, not for others.

There are other questions to be answered and it can be overwhelming. It may behoove you to select a Senior Care consultant who knows Louisville and has deep ties with the myriad of facilities in the area. For example, Senior Home Transitions is owned by a Louisvillian, who doesn’t charge you a dime for assistance. It is a FREE senior-living referral service that works with you to navigate the choices, costs, and processes of finding the senior community best suited for you or your loved one.