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How to Use Care Categories to Choose an Assisted Living Facility Part 1: Mandatories

Last week we talked about how to asses levels of care needs. Since you’re now equipped with that evaluation, you’re ready to match up your loved ones care needs with an appropriate Assisted Living that can handle their needs today and beyond.

Why is this article important? On the outside a lot of the care provided in Assisted Living looks the same. But for those who know the industry, the reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. The choices and varying levels of service are so vast, that there is an entire industry of care managers, and placement agencies that surround the elderly care industry. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean that not every facility you look at can do the same things.

Let’s go back to the Four M’s we used to assess level of care. Today we’ll look at the first M, Mandatories to help us see the differences in the facilities out there.

  1. Mandatories

These are the activities of daily living (ADLs) that most people who need assisted living require. That’s why we call them mandatories.

The list of mandatories includes; daily grooming and hygiene, bathing, toileting, dressing, housekeeping and food preparation. If I had to pick one thing from this list that sends people from living independently at home to moving into an Assisted Living facility, it would be food preparation. We can get by with doing very little of the things above. Things that are once or twice a week events can be done by a visiting caregiver, or a family member committed to coming by weekly. But feeding ourselves usually takes lots of effort three times a day.

Fortunately, this is a need that is easily met through assisted living. When you do visit places, ask to see their menu. Are the menu items things you and your kids would like (caliente burritos) or is it appropriate to the generation their serving? There’s always the exceptional elderly foodie, but on the whole, that generation is often described as meat and potatoes.

Make sure you meet the care staff that will be assisting with the other activities of daily living. Helping with getting dressed and grooming can seem like a simple things that anyone can do, and that’s true. What you want to look for is a facility and staff culture that takes time with these things. Is the mentality, “I have to get Mrs. Smith done out of this room as quickly as possible. I have 15 more beds to get to in the next 45 minutes.”? Or, has the facility provided ample staff so that caregivers can take the time to serve each resident individually without any hurry. It takes time to ask someone what color lipstick they want today, and to present several options of clothes they would like to wear. The details of importance will differ from person to person, but the essential thing you as a decision maker need to look for is, are the residents here given enough time for their activities of daily living.

There are two models in assisted living, one is streamlined and efficient. It has all the qualities of an assembly line. The other is a little less organized, and a lot more personal. It has the qualities of a leisurely day on the front porch with a glass of iced tea nearby. One model shows residents how they need to fit their ADLs within the care structure that has been built, and the other builds its care structure around each resident’s preferences and needs. When looking for care, remember to ask yourself, what kind of model would I like, if this decision was being made for me?

Look out this week for the next three care categories you need to consider when choosing long-term care for your loved one.