The process of choosing the right assisted living facility for your parents can be challenging and sometimes even overwhelming. Fortunately, today there are many different facilities from which to choose. But even the number of options available can make the decision process even more difficult. Once you’ve narrowed down your option to a few different programs and facilities, it’s time to shift your focus to thinking about the right questions to ask, so that you can make a well-informed decision. The questions below will help you to do that.

1. How much independence do residents enjoy?

One of the most important things to gauge when choosing an assisted living facility is the amount of independence offered to residents. This is particularly important if your parent is accustomed to doing things on their own. If they’re suddenly not allowed to do things, this can greatly detract from their sense of independence.

In most cases a detailed service plan is created before a resident moves in, describing specifically what services will be provided for that individual. This type of plan will also outline how much independence the resident will be allowed. Reviewing the level of independence provided will help to ensure you choose the right facility for your parent. Many assisted living facilities today provide progressive levels of service to meet the needs of residents as their needs increase with age. For instance, a resident may be able to advance from minimal care when they first enter the facility, to complete care as their needs increase and become more advanced. Always check to determine precisely which types of services are available. Never assume anything.

2. What types of services are offered?

The services provided to residents of assisted living facilities can depend on the needs of that individual. Most assisted living services focus on health care, social activities and personal care needs. Tasks offered can range from the basics such as paying monthly bills to grocery shopping. They might also include ensuring that medications are property taking and even include bathing and dressing. Meals are commonly provided in a central dining area, so it is also important to ensure dietary restrictions will be followed. For instance, if your parent has food allergies, it’s important to make certain their food will be prepared in a way that honors that.

It’s also a good idea to ensure that your parent will be able to take advantage of fun and stimulating activities, such as book clubs, gardening, field trips, fitness, etc. Certain services may involve additional fees, so it’s imperative to know in advance what’s included and what will be offered at an extra cost.

3. What is the cost for the facility and will your parent’s insurance cover it?

In most cases, the cost for an assisted living facility will run between $800 and $4,000 per month. There may also be an entrance fee as well, depending on the facility. Medicare usually does not cover the cost of such a community. Other insurance plans may cover the majority of the costs. Financial aid may also be available to assist with the cost. Make a point to speak with the facility administrator or director to determine the types of financial options that are available.

4. What are the rules for the facility?

It’s always important to make sure you have a good understanding of that facility’s rules. Ask the administrator for a copy of the rules and regulations to ensure that they’re appropriate and reasonable based on the needs of your parent. Ask as well if there are any exceptions to the rules. For instance, do you need to complete a form if you wish to take your parent out of the facility? Many assisted living facilities are quite flexible, but it can be helpful to make sure you understand the regulations in advance.

5. Is it possible to preview or tour the facility?

This is perhaps one of the most important questions you should ask before you make a final decision. It’s imperative that you have the opportunity to see a unit or apartment so that you do not encounter any surprises later regarding handicap accommodations, space, etc. This is also a good way to find out whether it’s possible to personalize the space and gain an idea of the overall level of safety that is provided within that facility.

Touring the facility will also give you a chance to see how the staff interacts with residents daily. If the staff is not helpful and compassionate, you’ll know immediately that you don’t have to give any further consideration to that facility.

Take the time during your tour to carefully observe other residents. Are they engaged in interesting and stimulating social activities? Are they interacting with other residents? What about the overall cleanliness of the facility? Does everything appear to be clean and orderly? How are matters of communication handled between the staff and family members? If you have the chance, this is also a good time to chat with residents as well as family members who may be visiting. This will provide you with an excellent first-hand account of what you can realistically expect from that facility.

Deciding upon an assisted living facility for your parents is never an easy task. Naturally, you want to make certain you choose the best level of care possible for your parents, while choosing a facility that will meet all of their physical, medical and social needs. Asking the right questions upfront can provide you with the opportunity to do just that. When you choose the right facility based on a well-informed decision you can gain peace of mind in knowing that your parent is cared for and happy.