Elderly Parents Assisted Living Facilities - 10 Basics to Know

Elderly Parents Assisted Living Facilities - 10 Basics to Know

It’s not an easy transition when considering moving an elderly parent from his or her home, or yours, to an assisted living facility, but caregivers must always remember that the health, safety and care of seniors should be a primary concern.

Nevertheless, the approach to finding an ideal location for Mom or Dad may seem overwhelming to many who don’t know where to start looking, or how to determine an excellent facility from a fair or poor one.

However, understanding some of the basics, knowing ahead of time what specific needs or help your parent might need, as well as a basic understanding of what most assisted living facilities or elder care centers offer is the first step toward finding a comfortable, safe and happy living environment for your elderly parents. 

Assisted Living Facilities Basics

An assisted living facility is designed to offer minimal assistance to residents within a small community of seniors or elderly parents. Such facilities are also often called Community Based Residential facilities or Board and Care facilities. Such places may or may not offer 24-hour staffing, and some are state approved while others are not.

Elderly Assisted Living Facilities - Kitchen

In many such facilities, between 1-3 meals are served to residents each day, and some structured and planned activities may also be available. Funding for such facilities is often private, though private insurance may take care of a portion of the costs, and Medicaid waivers may be available in some states.

Basically, these facilities are geared toward individuals who are medically stable and who are able to take care of most daily needs and medication regimens on their own.

In most states, assisted living facilities offer:

  • Limited medical staff (aides, nurses, therapy) services
  • Limited assistance with personal care
  • Meals and light housekeeping
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Daily supervision, but often not 24-hour based

10 Things to Determine about an Assisted Living Facility

After you have determined the type and extent of care needed by a parent, it’s time to ask some tough questions about services and quality of care. Don’t be embarrassed to ask such questions, as they are important to the long-term safety and comfort of your loved one. Staff at such facilities expect such queries and won’t be offended if your questions and requests are direct and to the point. For example, here are 10 things that you should ask before deciding on an assisted living facility for your elderly parents:

  • What types of services are provided on a daily basis – nurse’s aides, nursing staff, and medical response to emergencies?
  • Are health care service providers trained and certified?
  • How clean or well cared for is the facility? Are floors cleaned and waxed? Are rooms dust-free? Is property surrounding the facility well cared for?
  • Is the facility warm or cool as appropriate for weather?
  • Does the facility have a fire or other emergency evacuation plan? Will someone be able to help residents evacuate?
Elderly Assisted Living Facilities - Caregiver fixing Elderly Woman's Hair
  • Does the facility offer help or provisions for those with impairments such as decreased cognition or mobility issues?
  • Is the facility accredited? What were the results of the last yearly inspection?
  • Are provided meals nutritious, appealing and well balanced? Are adequate portions served?
  • Are there religious services offered for residents? If so, what kind? * What type of security is offered on the premises?

Can Medicare or Medicaid Help?

Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

While the above questions are good to know the answers to, there is more involved in find an excellent facility that will suit the needs of your parent. For example, is shopping located close by? Is the facility in a safe neighborhood? Will the future needs of your parent be met there?

Here are some additional issues to consider:

  • Is the facility located close enough to family and friends to make visiting easy?
  • Have any complaints been lodged against the facility? Contact the BBB to find out.
  • Speak to current residents and ask their opinion about the facilities, the care and the staff.
  • Are laundry and housekeeping services included in costs?

  • Is transportation to community shopping centers or activities and events offered?
  • Does the facility offer a Statement or Philosophy of Care? 

To help you find additional information about assisted living facilities, check out the resources listed below. Remember, don’t assume. Don’t leave things to chance. Your parent’s care and safety is at stake.

Finding Help - Resources

Assisted Living Source 
Assisted Living Federation of America 
Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living 
National Center for Assisted Living


Elderly Parents Housing Discussion


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