If you and your mom have decided that it’s time to move to a senior living community, the next step is to find the right assisted living home for your mom. There’s a vast amount of information out there, along with many assisted living communities to choose from, so it’s common to feel overwhelmed when you begin the search. So how do you find the best assisted living home for your aging parent’s needs? We’ll break down the essential steps in this post.
1. Establish Your Budget
It’s a good idea to establish your budget before beginning your search. That way, you can avoid looking at assisted living homes that far exceed what your mom can afford. Will you or other family members be helping your mom cover the cost of assisted living? Does she have funds in retirement savings that she plans to use for assisted living? Does she have long-term care insurance? These are all important questions to ask. If she’ll be selling her family home, there may be profits from the sale that she can use to pay for assisted living as well.
2. Research Local Assisted Living Communities
The next step in finding the best assisted living home for your mom is to find out what assisted living communities are nearby. If your mom is considering moving to your city so that she can be closer to you (or so that you can more closely monitor the care she’s receiving), you’ll want to start your search there and gradually expand your search area depending on the distance you’re comfortable with.
Not sure where to begin your search? Here are a few ways to learn about the assisted living communities in your area:
- Search assisted living listings on sites like Caring.com, aPlaceforMom.com, or SeniorLiving.com.
- Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for assistance. Search the Eldercare Locator or the AARP’s Community Resource Finder to find your state aging unit or AAA.
- Search directories maintained by industry organizations and associations such as the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), the S. Administration on Aging (which maintains the Eldercare Locator), or the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) (which has a Community Resource Finder).
3. Ask for Recommendations from Friends and Family
Chances are, you know someone who has a loved one in an assisted living home, so reach out to friends and extended family members and ask if they’re familiar with any of the assisted living homes on your list and if they’d recommend a specific community. Make a note next to any assisted living homes that friends or family members speak highly of.
4. Make a List of Must-Have and Nice-to-Have Services & Amenities
Of course, the right assisted living home for one person might not be the right choice for your mom. Recommendations from friends or family members are valuable, but they shouldn’t be the only reason you choose an assisted living community. In fact, there are many things to consider when it comes to choosing a senior living community. That’s why you should discuss and make a list of must-have services and amenities as well as those that are nice to have but not deal-breakers.
For instance, are you concerned about what will happen if the assisted living home is no longer able to meet her needs? In this case, you might want to consider a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). With multiple levels of care, CCRC residents can move from one setting to another as their care needs change without leaving the place they’ve come to call home. That means your mom can move into the senior living home now, and should she require additional care later in life, move to the skilled nursing or memory care community on the same campus, in a setting that feels like home.
5. Narrow Your List
Now that you have a better idea of what your mom needs and wants in an assisted living home, you can start to narrow your list by crossing off any communities that are missing must-haves. You may have other criteria as well, such as whether you want to avoid assisted living homes that have more remote, rural locations to ensure that you can travel to her easily even in the event of inclement weather.
6. Review State Licensing Records
Assisted living communities are regulated by state governments, and the government agency that oversees assisted living licensing may differ from state to state. Reviewing records maintained by state licensing and inspection boards can be informative. For example, you might discover that a community you’re considering has had a significant number of violations in recent years, or you might find that an assisted living home has maintained an impeccable record.
The American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA NCAL) conducts a periodic review of assisted living regulations in each state. By clicking on your state’s summary, you’ll find an overview of the assisted living regulations in your state as well as information such as the agency’s website and contact information so you can reach out for additional details. AssistedLiving.com maintains a similar resource with an easy-to-navigate menu and a summary of state laws such as minimum staffing ratios, staff training requirements, and inspection frequency and criteria.
7. Take Virtual Tours and Schedule In-Person Visits
After making any adjustments to your list based on your findings and decisions so far, it’s time to start exploring the assisted living homes that you’re seriously considering for your mom. Many senior living communities offer virtual tours so you can explore the community from the comfort of home before deciding whether to visit in-person.
Once you’ve taken an in-person tour of a few assisted living homes, your mom might have a clear favorite. If she’s torn between two or more great options, you can compare the services and amenities by creating a pros/cons list for each. You can also schedule second in-person visits to get a closer look at the day-to-day life in each community and maybe even chat with a few residents before making your final decision.
While finding the best assisted living home for your mom can seem overwhelming, following these steps will help you feel more organized throughout the process and weigh all the important considerations while making a decision. If you want the peace of mind of knowing that your mom’s care needs will be met throughout her life, continuing care retirement communities like Arbors of Hop Brook offer comprehensive care, ensuring that your mom will always have skilled nursing, memory care, or other care options available when she needs them. Browse our floor plans or take a virtual tour, learn about our comprehensive approach to wellness, and take a look at our community calendar to find out what types of activities your mom can engage in. When you’re ready, schedule a tour to experience the active, vibrant lifestyle at Arbors of Hop Brook in person.