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Questions To Ask When Choosing Assisted Living

Senior woman and caregiver go walking outdoors

Choosing the right assisted living facility for you or a loved one is a huge decision. For starters, how do you begin? What determines a “good” assisted living facility? What sort of things should you be looking for? What things do you not even know you should be asking about? There are many factors to be considered, but although the process may seem overwhelming to begin with, it doesn’t have to be an impossible task, says Pamela Klapproth, CEO of Kendal on Hudson, a not-for-profit Life Plan Community serving older adults in the Quaker tradition in Sleepy Hollow, NY.

“When you or a family member need additional assistance in order to live safely and independently, you want to make sure that you’re selecting an assisted living facility that meets and exceeds your expectations,” she explains. “That means choosing a place that cares for your basic physical needs but also has a fun, enjoyable lifestyle that will keep you engaged, entertained and fulfilled.”

Pamela says that the first thing that older adults and their families should consider is what’s most important to them besides care. “Just like buying a house or going to college, the process starts with understanding your wants and needs. By understanding what’s important to you and what will help you live your best lifestyle, it will be much easier for you to make an informed decision about what assisted living community will be the best for you.”

Whether you already know exactly what type of community you want, or you’re only just beginning to think about it, here are some things to consider as you’re looking for assisted living facilities:

1. Where do you want to live?
“Location, location, location” isn’t just something that holds true in real estate. It’s also very important for assisted living communities as well. Before you start looking for specific facilities, think about where you’d like to live in a geographical sense. Do you want to remain in the same location as you are currently? Would you rather move to be near family members? Or is there a place you’ve always wanted to retire to? There’s no right or wrong answer … just the right answer for you. You may want to choose more than one location to begin your search, especially if you have several locations that would be the right fit for you.

2. What sort of things do you enjoy doing?
Depending on your situation, you may still have a lot of energy and ability to get out and enjoy your life. So what sort of things do you enjoy doing? How would you like to enjoy this chapter of life? Understanding what goals you still have and what you’d like to do with your time will help you better find a community that fits your desires.

3. What sort of demographic would you like?
What sort of community will work for you? A place that’s solely assisted living? A community that offers a full spectrum of care? Perhaps a community located near intergenerational opportunities? Some individuals like the hustle and bustle of the city life while others prefer a calmer, more bucolic area. A community filled with cultured people who enjoy the arts may be more your speed, or perhaps you’d like to be in a place where sports, barbecue and cookouts are the norm. Every assisted living community has a different vibe and feel and attracts a different demographic of people. It’s important to look at the community makeup to help determine what place would provide a suitable lifestyle for you.

4. What emergency and nonemergency help is available?
One big reason that older adults choose to move into assisted living is to provide peace of mind. Having accidents when you’re living at home can result in falls, long wait times and potentially lengthy recovery situations. In an assisted living community, staff members are available around the clock, which provides immediate assistance when necessary. This ranges from helping residents get around or care for themselves to professional nurse care and transport to hospitals if required. You’ll want to research how situations are managed and make sure that you’re choosing a location that will provide the best possible care.

5. What’s included in the contract and monthly rent?
Different communities have different types of contracts. Some, like Kendal on Hudson, are Life Plan Communities, which means that residents pay an entrance fee up-front that acts as a “prepayment” for any future health care needs. Then, residents pay a monthly fee for the remainder of their stay at the community. In our community, that monthly fee includes everything … a maintenance-free, all-inclusive lifestyle that provides simplicity, elegance, luxury and ease. Knowing what’s included in the various fees and contracts will allow you to compare apples to apples as you’re looking at assisted living communities.

6. What sort of entertainment is available?
“Entertainment” can cover a lot of different things. You may consider “entertainment” to be symphony and theatre events. Other people may enjoy cheering on a local team. Others prefer to be outside, or travel to different towns to art fairs and the like. We all enjoy different things and knowing what is available on and off campus will give you a better picture of how everyday life might be structured. Having entertainment, social and recreational opportunities will ensure a huge boost to your happiness, whatever community you choose.

7. Does the community feel like home?
Even if a community is perfect on paper, there’s a je ne sais quoi that can’t be measured. We’ve all had the experience of stepping into a place and automatically feeling at home. The personal aspect of this decision is absolutely essential, and even if an assisted living facility ticks off all the other boxes, you absolutely must make sure that it feels right. Ask yourself if you can see yourself living happily there. Listen to your gut, and if it answers anything other than an enthusiastic yes, keep searching until you can find the community that makes you jump at the chance to live there.

“We understand that the best Assisted Living lifestyle involves both care, compassion and engagement, which is why our Adirondack program at Kendal on Hudson pairs the best care with the best lifestyle,” Pamela says. “Our Assisted Living residents benefit from an engaged lifestyle, lifelong learning opportunities and a focus on wellness that allows them to age well and live a lifestyle they love, now and always.”

Together, Transforming the Experience of Aging.®

Founded on Quaker principles and guided by our values and practices, Kendal on Hudson provides a vibrant, active and social senior lifestyle on our 25-acre campus next to the historic Hudson River. As the only Lifecare community in Westchester County, we offer five levels of service for our residents: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Support, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation.

Kendal on Hudson is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization led by a volunteer Board of Directors. Kendal on Hudson is an affiliate of The Kendal Corporation, a system of communities and services for older people based in Kennett Square, PA. We support diversity, inclusiveness, and independence and support the values and practices of Kendal by remaining focused on healthy aging. Located in Sleepy Hollow, New York, just 35 miles from New York City, we offer a vibrant lifestyle, cultural programs, continued learning and health care for life.

 For more information, please call 866-KENDALNY.