Common Questions Regarding Assisted Living Facilities

While working with thousands of families as they explore long-term care options for an elderly loved one, we have found that families often ask the same questions in regards to assisted living facilities.

Is There a Typical Time Commitment?

Unlike traditional apartment living, assisted living facilities do not require a lease or long-term commitment. Rent is month-to-month and residents can move out after any length of time. However, 30-days notice is typically required.

Exceptions to this notice may include a physician-ordered transfer to a higher level of care or the community’s inability to provide care based upon increasing care needs.

Can the Facility Remind a Resident to Take Their Medications?

In most states, regulations for assisted facilities require an all-or-nothing approach to medication management. If a resident requires assistance with medications, the medications are ordered, stored and administered by the personnel of assisted facilities.

Medication reminders often lead to liability issues with errors related to incorrect dosages, taking the wrong medication or forgetting to take medications despite reminders. Family members may provide reminders if they feel comfortable with this approach.

Do Residents Have to Eat All Three Meals Provided?

Residents do not have to eat every meal offered at an assisted living facility. However, in most cases, monthly fees will not be reduced if a resident chooses to eat fewer meals. In an effort to provide services which enhance a resident’s well-being, facilities recognize the importance of proper nutrition and hydration. In fact, a poor diet is frequently the cause of health problems for seniors living alone in their own homes.

The opportunity for social interaction throughout the day is another important reason for providing three meals as part of a healthy lifestyle. If, however, a resident is ill and cannot eat in the dining room, they can have a limited number of meals delivered to their apartment at no cost or for a minimal charge.

Do Assisted Living Facilities Provide Transportation to Medical Appointments?

Transportation to medical appointments is usually provided within a particular radius of or proximity to the facility. It is also common for facilities to provide transportation for this purpose on particular days of the week in order to reserve other days for off-site activities and other types of outings.

In recent years, however, ‘unscheduled transportation’ for an additional fee has become more commonly available. For residents with chronic illnesses that require frequent, regularly scheduled appointments such as renal dialysis, an alternate source of transportation is often required.

Are There Specific Visiting Hours at Assisted Living Facilities?

While visitors are usually required to sign in and out for security purposes, there are no restrictions on when family members can visit residents in their home. After ‘business hours’, the exterior doors to facilities are locked and visitors can use a key if they were issued one upon their family member’s move-in.

Alternately, assisted facilities are staffed 24 hours a day to provide a safe and secure environment so personnel will let visitors into the building unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Written by gerontologist Sara Shelton.

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