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10 Questions to Ask When You Need Senior Living
LARGE ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITIES
These communities provide non-medical, long-term care, and accommodate 40 to 200 people. They are licensed by the California Department of Social Services. Large communities work better for people who are active and alert. Each resident’s room has a private full bath. Additional care is available and many have special Memory Care secured sections.
1. OVERVIEW: What is the character and feel of the community? Is it welcoming? Are there nice areas both inside and outside to socialize or relax? How does the community smell?
2. MONTH TO MONTH RENT: What is included in the rent? Is there an annual rent increase? If a resident comes in on a discounted rate, will the increase be based on that rate or a higher rate?
3. CARE/STAFFING: What are the charges for care? What is the caregiver to resident ratio? Is there an RN/LVN on staff? What is their procedure for checking on a resident if they are not at breakfast/lunch by a certain time each day? How do they assist a resident who is a fall risk or who gets up at night? In an emergency, how will they alert you?
4. MEDICATIONS: What are the charges to manage medications? Are residents regularly checked by a medical professional? There are mobile eldercare doctors who accept Medicare in the community?
5. FOOD/DINING: How is the food/dining room? Do they adjust for individual dietary restrictions or preferences? Are there set hours for meals or restaurant-style? Is there an extra cost for meals in the room?
6. ACTIVITIES: Here’s a whole series of questions about activities:
- What are the activities inside the facility?
- Do they have live entertainers, games, music, movies, discussion groups, craft, and art programs?
- What exercise programs are available?
- What are the activities outside the facility?
- Are there opportunities to go to museums, movies, the beach, or scenic drives?
- How do they help a senior transition to their new home?
- Do they have an “Ambassador” program?
- Do you see the residents talking to each other or to staff?
7. TRANSPORTATION: What transportation is available for doctor appointments or errands?
8. ENTRANCE/COMMUNITY FEE. Is there an entrance fee? What is the refund policy if a resident moves out within three months?
9. PETS/VISITS: Do they allow the residents to have small pets?
10. REVISIT: Arrange to come back for lunch or dinner and talk to other residents about their experience.
QUESTIONS FOR RESIDENTIAL CARE HOMES/BOARD AND CARE HOMES
These single-family homes are privately owned and have been converted to accommodate up to six residents with two or more caregivers. All are licensed by the California Department of Social Services. The homes accommodate seniors with higher care needs, dementia, or simply prefer a home-like environment. There is a higher ratio of staff to clients than any other senior living facility or community. As care needs or dementia increase, seniors often move to this type of community in order to accommodate their level of care and keep the costs down.
1. OVERVIEW: What is the character and feel of the home? Is it welcoming? Are there nice areas both inside and outside to socialize or relax? How does it smell?
2. MONTH TO MONTH RENT: What is included in the rent? Medication Management and all Care? How are adult incontinent products ordered and is this the family responsibility? Are there increases for higher levels of care, i.e., being on Hospice? Is there an annual rent increase?
3. CARE/STAFFING: Here is a whole series of questions about care and staffing:
- What is the caregiver to resident ratio?
- Is Night Staff awake or sleeping?
- How long have the caregivers been at this home?
- How do they assist a resident who is a fall risk or who gets up at night?
- For residents who are unable to communicate or who are bedridden/ immobile, what system do they have in place to know that the resident needs help?
- In an emergency, how will they alert you?
4. FOOD/DINING: Do they adjust for individual dietary restrictions or preferences? Are snacks easily available or per request only? Are there set hours for meals?
5. ACTIVITIES: What are the activities inside the facility? How do they address the resident’s particular interests? Do they have games, music, therapy animals, or entertainer visits? What exercise programs are available? Do they take the residents on walks?
6. TRANSPORTATION: Is there transportation available for doctor appointments?
7. ENTRANCE/COMMUNITY FEE. Is there an entrance fee? What is the refund policy if a resident moves out within three months?
8. INTERVIEWS: Ask for a list of the families of current residents so that you can call and interview them about their experience with the facility.
9. REVISIT: Come back at a different time of day, if possible, to get a better idea of the home and the residents.
Assisted Living Connections ▪ Ventura County, Los Angeles County