Making the decision to move a loved one into an assisted living facility can feel overwhelming. This decision usually comes with the realization that your loved one can’t completely care for themself anymore. This can be difficult to accept, on top of the need to want to find the best assisted living facility possible. In Colorado, there are many great options. Colorado assisted living has grown in popularity, and there are numerous facilities to choose from. Currently, there are over 400 different facilities in the state of Colorado, each with different structures, guidelines, and services. Deciding what facility is best can seem overwhelming, but with the proper research, questions, and expectations, you’ll be able to find the best fit for your family.
Ask Your Loved Ones First
When it comes to the initial search for a quality CO elder care facility, it is important to understand what your loved one’s expectations of the facility would be. You want your loved one to be as comfortable and happy as possible. It is important to understand and factor in their specific desires. Some things to consider include:
- What are their expectations or needs? Are there certain aspects of day-to-day life they don’t want to sacrifice? Is it important to be in a place with complete privacy, or is a communal environment best? Establishing the basic requirements can help to narrow your overall search. Leaving a home that a person has spent years of their life in can be difficult. Depending on their level of need, they may even have a hard time accepting that they do need some day-to-day help. It’s important to be sensitive to your loved one’s needs and desires. You ultimately want to find a place that is safe and comfortable for them.
- Cost. This is one of the largest aspects of searching for an assisted living facility. You want to find a place that is affordable. A financial advisor could help to establish how much can be used for housing. If you’ll be covering the cost, it is important to have a clear understanding of the financial expectation. We naturally want to provide the absolute best, but an overpriced facility could quickly drain accounts and could add additional stress to an already stressful situation. You’ll want to have a full understanding of billing and payment policies. It is important to understand what services are included and how much more any not included services would be. In Colorado, the monthly median cost is 4,000 a month, which is right at the national average. The average cost does vary significantly from region to region, so location itself can play a major role in the overall cost. According to research conducted by AARP, 4 out of 5 people pay out of pocket for care. There are funding options available in the State of Colorado, and it is important to understand financial requirements and what your facility may or may not accept.
- Location. This is important for the entire family. Colorado has numerous fantastic assisted living facilities across the state. It is important that you find a location close to the family. Many studies have shown the importance of family visits, especially when a loved one is in an assisted living facility. A nearby location helps to ensure that the family and friends can easily visit whenever possible.
- Activities and Amenities. The last thing you want is for your loved one to feel like they might get stuck in their room day in and day out. It is important to understand what activities they would like accessibility to. If your loved one enjoys crafts, finding a place that has community craft events or crafting clubs could make a world of difference. Many facilities offer an array of indoor and outdoor activities — it’s about finding the best match for the hobbies and activities your loved one participates in.
Once you’ve established what your loved one would prefer, you’re able to narrow your search. The easiest way to begin your search is to jump online and explore the different options in your area. Most living facilities will have an established website that explains what their facility offers, as well as provides testimonies and pictures of what the facility looks like.
Understanding the Facility
Before making an official tour visit, you can find out a lot about a facility through online search engines. Not only will you find the information provided on their site, but you’ll also be able to find reviews of the facility. This is helpful in giving first- and second-hand accounts that are unedited. This can provide insight into details that you wouldn’t necessarily be given on a tour. These reviews can give you an idea of what others have enjoyed and haven’t enjoyed when it comes to living in the facility.
Everyone’s experiences are different, and while some may not have enjoyed the food, it doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one would feel the same. Some details as this may be highly opinionated, but in instances where conflict or major issues are mentioned, you’ll be able to get a quick sense if a tour is worth your time. You may also want to call the communities you are interested in and request information such as brochures, services, and any guidelines of cost.
Tour the Facility
Once you’ve narrowed your search, it is important to schedule a personalized tour. This will be a great chance to physically see the facility and ask your gathered questions and concerns in person. Not only do you get to talk to staff, but you’ll also be able to observe how the staff works outside of your tour. Do they seem to enjoy their work? Does it seem as though they have a good rapport? Once you’re taking your tour, you can start to ask the really important questions. Questions could include topics like the following:
- The staff-to-resident ratio. Depending on the needs of your loved one, they may require more support than others. It is important to feel as though your loved one’s needs will be met. Choosing an assisted living facility with a good staff-to-resident ratio can greatly impact the overall quality of their residency. Asking about employee turnover can also clarify the overall stress levels and atmosphere of the facility.
- Training and experience. It is important to note what kind of training the staff members have received. This can involve not only medical training but also conflict and relational experience. It is also important to find out if any medical staff is available, such as an on-staff nurse.
- Additional services. Different facilities provide different types of services. For many facilities, their hope is that they will be able to provide your loved one with a sense of being home. Home can mean something different to everyone. Facilities may provide services such as physical therapy exercise or rotating exercise classes. Services may also include on-site physician visits. Other services could include bathing, laundry, dressing, and scheduled activities. Some services may be included with your cost, and some may be additional, depending on your facility.
On your tour, you’ll be able to see firsthand the common areas, dining areas, and room amenities. Each aspect of these areas comes with its own set of questions but can ultimately lead to deciding what facility is best for your loved one’s personality:
- Common spaces. This can play a large factor in determining if this is the best fit for your family. Your loved one should be able to feel comfortable outside of their room if they choose to venture out. You’ll want to explore what types of common spaces are available and how often they are utilized. Many facilities offer a variety of common spaces. This could include a lounging area, a TV room, a room for arts and crafts, or other activities. This could also include any on-site services such as a hair salon, fitness room, pool, or other on-site concierge services.
- Living spaces. An assisted living facility should still be able to feel like home. The living spaces shouldn’t force your loved one to make sacrifices in their living expectations. You’ll want to consider what kind of living space the facility currently has available and what kind of wait it might be for a different option. Most facilities offer either a private living space or one that is shared with another resident. You’ll want to see if living spaces come furnished or if you would be expected to move in your own furniture. Even if it does come furnished, it is good to know if you will be able to personalize and decorate the space. Some facilities may or may not allow pets, and some may only allow specific breeds or have a weight limit on pets.
- Food. Food is important, not only nutritionally, but also for the experience attached to certain foods. The quality of food at the facility is a crucial element in choosing an assisted living facility. You’ll want to find a facility that understands and caters to dietary preferences and restrictions. You’ll also want to find out how many meals a day are provided. Some facilities may only provide the main three courses, while others may have snacks or beverages available throughout the day. It may help to ask for a sample of the menu or to even be able to have lunch or dinner to experience how it really is for the residents. If the menu never changes, mealtime could quickly become boring or dreadful. Understanding the culinary options as well as the details of how the kitchen works can help determine if the facility is best for your loved one’s mealtime preferences.
- Activities. You’ve already checked with your loved one about which activities they would like available to them, so now you should see how the facility manages these activities and what is available. Does the facility have a posted schedule of events? Is activity encouraged? Does the facility provide any community interaction or live entertainment? You’ll want to find an assisted living facility that is able to provide its residents with different options and activities to provide a break from the mundane day-to-day routine.
- Health care. Each living facility may offer different levels of health care. You’ll want to look for a facility that provides the type of health care your loved one needs. It is important to understand how the facility helps to care for and monitor the health of your loved one. Does the facility perform assessments? If so, how often? Who coordinates health care? Is there a medicine management policy in place? Understanding what the facility does and doesn’t provide can help you understand what planning needs to be done outside of the facility.
- Memory care. Depending on the specific needs of your loved one, finding a facility that provides memory care can help to create the best environment for your family. Understanding if this is an option at the facility, as well as how they operate their memory care, can factor into your ultimate decision. With memory care, structured activities are often delivered by staff who are specially trained in this area.
In Colorado, there are basic expectations that all facilities are meant to follow. These elements of care include providing a safe and sanitary environment, having protective oversight, help with daily activities such as meals, bathing, dressing, etc., as well as providing social and recreational activities. While all facilities will provide these core care expectations, you’ll still want to do your research and find the facility that best matches your personalized needs. Once you find a facility, a resident will help you and your family develop a plan that will include medical assistance, physical and mental evaluations, and note any special instructions and needs.
Ready to Start Your Search?
Finding the perfect facility may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding what your loved one wants and needs is the first big step. From there, you’ll explore your options and tour the facilities that best match the desires of your family. If you are ready to explore your options, Rocky Mountain Assisted Living is here to help.