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How to Judge an Elder Care Facility

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 6, 2017 12:00:00 AM / by Jack Maloney

Long-term care options and what to look out for

It never feels like the right time to think about moving a loved one to an assisted living facility. Above all else, you want your senior to be safe, well fed, and mentally stimulated. And sometimes the best place to do that is in a community home. Once you’ve decided to make a change, the next decision to make is which facility is the right one for your aging senior. It’s important to take the following precautions to determine if the elder care facility feels right for you and your loved one.

Ask the important questions

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to elder care facilities. Make sure you’re asking the right questions based on your loved one’s priorities and pain points. These questions may include:

  •  Are the residents reminded to take meds? Are they administered by the staff? How are prescriptions filled?
  •  What are the meal options and at what times are meals offered? Can meal options be customized to fit specific health concerns? You might also want to see if they’re willing to provide a taste test of some of the menu items.
  • Is transportation available to and from medical appointments or other outside activities?
  • What are the restrictions on the property?
  • What security precautions are taken, both to keep intruders out and keep residents in?

AARP provides an extensive list of different questions to consider asking when visiting a long-term care facility. 

Look for red flags

While you don’t want to drive yourself crazy nitpicking every little thing, it’s important to take the time to really observe the way of life at each facility. Make it a point to watch interactions between the staff and residents. Are they respectful and accommodating? Do the staff members seem happy to be there? Are residents in common areas communicating and participating in activities? If the place seems quiet and desolate, the facility might not be full or residents might not enjoy using the common areas. Both could be a sign for concern. 

Get a copy of the admissions contract and rules, which should outline fees, services, residents’ rights, etc. If you sense the staff is hesitant to hand over the contract before you’ve chosen a facility, consider it a bright red flag.

Show up unannounced

Before making a final decision, be sure to visit a handful of facilities to get a better sense of what’s common practice and what’s not. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, make unannounced visits. This will give you a better idea of what a typical day is like for both the residents and the staff, without someone showing you only the selling points.

Evaluate all costs

Once you’ve chosen a facility, make sure to itemize every cost you need to budget for, including any extra services your loved one will need, the deposit or down payment, and any unexpected rate increases that may need to be accounted for, as most costs for assisted living facilities have to be paid out-of-pocket.

Deciding to make the move to a long-term care facility is an emotional, financial, and physically taxing option – but it doesn’t have to be the only option. Regardless of what level of care you’re looking for, home health and caregiver providers can often offer similar services without your loved one having to leave their home. And if you’re considering assisted-living facilities because an older family member was recently admitted to the hospital, studies show that home health care actually improves quality of life after a hospital discharge.

If you’re still evaluating your options in the South Florida area, including Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Indian River, or Martin County, FirstLantic provides daily, overnight, or around-the-clock home healthcare services for your loved one. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help keep your senior healthy.

Topics: How to Judge an Elder Care Facility

Written by Jack Maloney

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