When aging parents need help maintaining their home, it’s time to consider assisted living. Even though the topic may be unsettling, being ready can help you meet the needs of your loved ones in a supportive environment. Before talking to your aging parent about assisted living, research and tour facilities. Here are some tips to get you started.

Ask for Referrals

Assisted living referral services can make finding the right home for your mom and dad easier. They will ask questions about your parent’s needs and preferences and then provide options in your budget and geographic area. However, not all senior living referral agencies are created equal. Some may send families to a home that will pay them the highest referral fee rather than one that’s a good cultural fit for your parents. When choosing a senior living referral service, be sure to choose one that doesn’t accept referral fees from communities and is familiar with the city and neighborhood where your parents will live. You can check an agency’s credentials by asking for their certifications or checking with the state to see if they have any complaints against them. Then, ask how many homes they typically send families to tour.

Tour the Facility

Visiting the facility is important in choosing an assisted living home for your parent. Once you’ve narrowed down the list of potential homes, schedule tours and visit at different times to get a feel for what life is like there. It’s a good idea to go alone at first so your parents don’t feel overwhelmed by the process of making a change. During your tour, look at how clean the facility is. Does it smell pleasant, or is there a layer of dust on everything? Pay attention to how residents interact, too. Do they seem happy and engaged? It’s also good to ask what medical support services are available on-site. Look for facilities with a high caregiver-to-resident ratio and offer registered nurses on call 24/7. It can help you find a place where your parent will be safe and well cared for if anything happens during the night.

Get a Fee Schedule

Assisted living costs can be substantial, and rates will likely increase. The best way to determine whether an option makes financial sense for your parents is to list ten or more senior living options and request cost estimates. You should also find out about the staff-to-resident ratio and what medical services are included in the price of the residence. If your parents need specialized care requiring more skilled nursing, you should be prepared to pay a higher rate. Ask what food is served and where it is available to residents—if your parents like to snack or are accustomed to eating at a certain time of day, they may want a facility that offers small refrigerators in their rooms or other kitchenettes. Also, find out about dietary restrictions and preferences. Some residences have multiple dining locations, and some serve different types of meals each day.

Ask Questions

The decision to move an aging parent into assisted living is often a difficult one for everyone involved. But it’s important to take your time and visit facilities to get a feel for the place before making a final decision. Ask the facility staff about their services, including daily activities, healthcare support, and meal options. It’s also worth asking about the ratio of staff members to residents. A low ratio may be a red flag, especially if you know your loved one will need assistance with the basics of daily living. You’ll also ask the staff how they help newcomers settle in and make friends. Seniors need to have a sense of community and be socially connected. Choosing a facility that offers regular events and activities for its residents is a good idea. In addition, you’ll want to find out if the facility provides transportation for appointments and grocery shopping.