Searching for an assisted living community for a loved one can feel like a very overwhelming task. There are many options available today including both larger senior living community campuses with a large number of apartments as well as small home-like settings with a small number of residents. It is important to do a bit of research before beginning your search and gather a list of questions to ask before scheduling a tour.

Today, there are many different assisting living communities to choose from and the first option to consider is the size of the building or home. Would your loved one benefit from a larger community setting or a small home-like setting? A tip on how to best determine where they might prefer would be to take a look back at the last few decades of their life. Did they live in a neighborhood with other homes and neighbors around quite often or did they reside in a more rural setting that was quiet and interaction with neighbors was rare?

A residential assisted living home is a family-like environment where the residents (typically 3-12) receive home cooked meals and there is a smaller amount of people to socialize with. Residents also feel as if they are “home” versus a large campus type community. Normally you’ll find the average residents to be around 6:1 ratio to caregiver.

Larger assisted living communities are either single or multi-story buildings with more than 12 residents (typically 40+) and have restaurant-style dining perhaps with a culinary chef, salons, some have swimming pools, studios and one to two bedroom apartments, some offer libraries, therapy gyms, plenty of scheduled activities, transportation to outings and more.

Although some communities or homes offer furnished rooms or apartments, most allow or require you to bring your own furniture. Options may vary and can mean a single or double room with or without a shared bathroom or a full apartment, which can be private or shared. Each of the assisted living community types listed above can offer a whole range of services and each charge different rates. These rates are determined by how much assistance your loved one requires each day with certain tasks and is referred to as a level of care.

What is Level of Care?

Most communities charge an additional fee for care on top of the room and board fee or monthly rate. Senior living communities are required to conduct an assessment to ensure your loved one qualifies for assisted living and determine what level of care they are or in other words, how much assistance they need on a daily basis. Some assisted living communities are all inclusive of care meaning, the care rate is included in the rate quoted.

A common myth is that licensed nurses are required to be on site and staffing is around the clock at an assisted living community. In fact, that is not true. If you want a community that offers, for example, round-the-clock staffing, you should ask about this up front. If your loved one requires the services of a licensed nurse day and night (such as sliding scale insulin), this setting may not be appropriate for your loved one.

Be sure to ask the community what is included in the basic monthly fee because there may be an additional charge for services provided such as assistance with dressing or bathing and even medication administration. There may also be initial costs, such as a deposit or other one-time fees such as a community fee. What is a community fee? A community fee is a one-time nonrefundable industry standard fee that costs anywhere from $500 to $3000 depending on the community. The senior living community uses this fee to secure the room, prepare the room upon move in and move out, and any administrative work completed pre and post move in. Sometimes communities have specials and can discount the rate.

Remember these fees and costs are not fixed and it is possible for costs to increase over time, based on changes in your loved one’s care needs. Do not be afraid to ask any questions, if you think it will help you make a decision on whether or not a community is the right fit for your loved one. Denver Senior Care consultants are here for guidance and support, reach out to our team today to see how we can help!