A: Consumers often are lacking the information they need to determine whether or not an assisted living facility is any good. At a minimum, the facility should provide the following services: 24-hour staffing and assistance as needed, exercise/wellness/programs, meals/dining services, housekeeping, medication management and/or assistance, assistance with activities of daily living, social activities, and transportation to medical appointments.

Almost all assisted living facilities will tell you that they are perfectly capable of taking care of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. That is simply untrue. You need to ask specifically where their secure floor is, how they prevent people from wandering, what kind of activities and cognitive stimulation they provide, etc. Make them show you.

Also, you need to know exactly how much assistance they are willing to provide with the activities of daily living, how much medical care is available, and when they are going to require you to add a private duty aide at your own expense to supplement their staff, or when they will tell you they can’t take care of your parent anymore. It’s important to understand the parameters.

Also, repeating advice given above, do not be unduly influenced by the skill of the interior decorator. You want to be looking for cleanliness, infection control, staffing, quality and number of personal care assistance or aides, nursing staff, food, etc. And, remember that some of the prettiest, softest furniture with the nicest fabrics get soaked in urine and can’t be cleaned. And, low squishy chairs are exceedingly difficult for mobility impaired people to get in and out of.

You should expect that an assisted living community will provide itself or contract with an outside provider for the following health care services:

Percentage of assisted living communities that provide (by employees or arranged with an outside service provider) certain health care services:

  • 6% pharmacy/pharmacist
  • 8% dietary and nutritional
  • 4% therapy (physical, occupational or speech)
  • 7% hospice
  • 1% skilled nursing
  • 0% mental health or counseling
  • 51.1% social work services