Let’s face it. Choosing an assisted living facility for your parents isn’t a decision you make everyday. So, don’t take it lightly. For this important once-in-a-lifetime undertaking, you need to fully understand all of the considerations involved.
Here are six mistakes we frequently see people make when choosing an assisted living facility for their loved ones:
1. Judging a Book By It’s Cover – Most people realize that first impressions are important, so the facility’s representative will make sure you see the nicest part of their building and campus up front. Be sure to see as much of the complex as possible. Don’t just look at the dining room; ask to be shown the food preparation area, including inside the walk-in refrigerator. A facility’s visible food-safety standards will be indicative of it’s overall approach to cleanliness and resident care.
2. Not Thinking About Future Needs – It’s common to just consider what Mom or Dad is currently capable of doing. You also need to consider what their limitations may be in the future, so the facility you choose this year is conducive to their lifestyle in the years to come.
3. Picking Your Style vs. Theirs – Recognize who will be living in the facility you choose. The answer is, “Not you!” You may like bridge night or square dancing every week, but your parents may prefer a quiet, private environment. Bingo isn’t for everyone. Don’t project your lifestyle preferences onto your parents. You have no idea what it’s like to be as old as they are. Take the time to fully understand how the aging process has truly affected your parents approach to daily living. Learn what housing features and amenities will make them feel secure, comfortable, and “at home” in their new home.
4. Proximity is Not as Important as You May Think – You may decide on a location that is close to you, so you can visit often. Don’t do that if it compromises your parents’ living situation. You might visit once per week, but it will be their home every day. Be sure to consider their lifestyle and happiness over your convenience.
5. Not Visiting Enough Facilities – Sometimes you have a good feeling about one of the first facilities you visit and you’re tempted to “jump on a great deal.” The facility’s sale rep knows that if you go out the door before closing the deal, they may lose you, so they’ll do everything they can to get you to sign on the dotted line during your tour. But remember, you’re not buying a used car; you’re choosing your parents next home. Fight the urge to quickly end the search process. Continue to shop around until you’ve seen at least four or five facilities, so you know what makes one facility better than another. The “great deal” offer is usually still available when you return. Your best option to find a great deal is to have many options from which to choose—and to make sure it is the best possible facility to meet all of your parents’ needs.
6. Doing It All Alone – You don’t need to make these decisions alone. Find a trusted friend or family member to help ease the burden and provide objective input. And hire experts where you can. A senior relocation specialist can be a tremendous asset in helping you avoid major mistakes.
Conduct Research, Create a Plan
As with any major decision, the best way to avoid making mistakes is to create a plan based on research. A good place to start is this article from Consumer Reports: How to choose the best assisted living facility