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Thursday, September 12, 2024

Living Well: How to Find the Best Assisted Living Community for Your Loved One

Sometimes an older person is largely independent but needs some extra help with daily activities. Family isn’t always available to provide the necessary care an older loved one requires. When it comes time to find a place that can offer more help, it’s important to find the best assisted living for your loved one based on their particular needs and preferences.

Assisted living is a long-term option for seniors who may need help with meals, medication, hygiene and more. This residential option means assistance is always available.

Arielle Lewis, Director of Community Outreach and Director of Assisted Living Sales at Chicago Methodist Senior Services, shares tips for finding the right assisted living community.

The best assisted living communities offer caring environments

Lewis recommends an in-person tour to get a feel for an assisted living community. Observe interactions among staff and residents, as well as the overall environment.

The person giving the tour should know the names of the staff working there. If they can’t keep up with the employees, it may indicate significant staff turnover. You want a consistent team caring for your loved one.

Encountering other residents is common during a tour. If the tour guide doesn’t know many of their names, the community may be too large for your liking. The best assisted living communities are places where your loved one can form connections with staff and other residents.  

The best assisted living communities have a positive culture

An assisted living community can be a homey place where your loved one has less day-to-day worries. Scheduled activities keep seniors engaged with other members of the community.

Lewis suggests visiting during meal time. See if there are menu options your loved one will enjoy, keeping preferences and restrictions in mind. Chicago Methodist Senior Services’ Covenant Home has a café which gives the residents another option for their dining experience.

Some communities allow pets. At Covenant Home, residents can have pets as long as they handle them without assistance. Hartwell Place allows pets to visit, so family members can bring them by to say hello. Pet visits allow residents to enjoy time with furry friends without having the strain of day-to-day pet care. “I think pets can be a great part of our residents’ lives, and there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to have your pet still be a part of your daily life,” assures Lewis.

Conduct a cost analysis when researching assisted living

Cost is a major concern for families. Per Lewis, every assisted living community is different.

For example, some communities itemize care. Task-based assistance may cost more per task. Bathing or meal assistance may have individual charges.

A tiered-level plan bases costs on levels of care. Instead of a charge per task, fees are based on the amount of aid required.

Another consideration is the financial safety net. A loved one may need a higher level of care but have relatively low funds. Discuss how the community addresses this situation so you can plan ahead.

“The biggest tip for anyone in the search is really just to trust your instincts; to imagine ‘how am I going to feel coming to visit my loved one in this place?’” advises Lewis. Listening to your gut is a powerful decision-making approach.

Listen to an interview on how to find the best assisted living community for your loved one with Arielle Lewis, Director of Community Outreach and Director of Assisted Living Sales at Chicago Methodist Senior Services, here.

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