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Should I move my relative into an assisted living center?

When everyday tasks become too difficult, or when a person needs more medical attention than can be provided at home, then assisted living may be the best option. Assisted-living facilities provide apartment-style living spaces with around-the-clock access to housekeeping, caretakers, meals and social events. In addition, these senior care centers provide transportation to doctors appointments, and nurses may work on site for various elderly care services. The rent at assisted living facilities isn't cheap -- some centers charge more than $5,000 in fees -- but these facilities provide invaluable senior care programs that aren't as accessible at home.

Choosing the best assisted living facility is a highly personal decision. First, you must determine whether your relative truly needs to move into a facility. Elderly adults who only need minimal help are often better off with in-home caregiving services, saving everyone the hardship of an emotional move. If you conclude your relative needs senior care, then the next step is determining which type of assisted living is needed. Some assisted living centers provide minimal monitoring and nursing assistance. On the other end of the spectrum, seniors who need intensive care and monitoring can move into facilities with permanent nursing staffs, physical therapists and other healthcare specialists. There are also specially designed elderly care centers for people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Once you've determined the type of senior care facility needed, then you should visit each center hat you're considering for your relative. Ask to speak with the director of the facility, and observe how nurses and staff members interact with each other and with residents. Take a look at how the apartments are laid out, and inquire about social activities and exercise programs. Ask who handles the monitoring of residents and who carries out the senior care plans prescribed by doctors. Your goal should be to get as complete of a picture of each center as possible so you'll be able to compare them later.

Finally, you need to consider the costs of various senior care facilities. Different assisted living centers may charge very different rates, often depending on their regular staffing levels and whether they employ permanent specialists. Some of the costs of assisted living may be covered by insurance, but you should still plan on significant out-of-pocket costs that will need to be accounted for. Remember that many seniors who move into assisted living are able to return to their homes at some point, especially if they're recovering from injury or illness. For others, senior care may become a permanent living arrangement, which is why choosing the right facility is so important.

Why are you thinking about moving your relative into an assisted living facility?
How much could you spend each month for rent and other fees at a senior care center?
Does your relative believe that he or she needs professional elderly care?
How much help does your relative need with basic tasks around the home?
Is your relative able to take care of personal care and hygiene?
Does your relative need frequent medical care or visits with therapists?
Does your relative have advanced Alzheimer's disease or dementia?
Can anyone in your household or family provide the degree of monitoring obtainable at assisted living centers?
Has your relative's doctor recommended assisted living as a preferred option?
Will your relative's healthcare provider cover any costs associated with senior care?

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