Ask Nancy

How to choose an assisted living facility

 

Special to the Miami Herald

Q. I live in California and have a formerly independent, elderly father in Tamarac, who is deteriorating following a mild stroke and is becoming an increasing burden for his partner, who lives with him. He has an extensive support network of friends in South Florida and doesn't wish to relocate to California, where my brother and I could more easily support him. I need to find an assisted living facility (ALF) for him in the Tamarac area. I certainly intend to travel to Tamarac and inspect the facilities personally, but it would help me a great deal to have a starting point.

Is there an online resource where I could read reviews of the available facilities and then obtain as much advance information as possible? This way my trip to Florida would be as fruitful as possible.

Lawrence W.

Los Angeles

A. I would strongly advise you not to rely upon reviews that are posted online nor websites that aggregate listings of ALFs. This is too important a decision to base on others’ opinions that may not be authentic, or are written by someone whose parents’ needs and personality are completely different from your father’s.

Also, you should be aware that some online resources display only those ALFs that they have contracts that stipulate payments for placements, or qualified leads. Thus, the facility that is best suited for your father may not even be included in their lists.

Assisted living facilities vary in the types of services they offer and the residents served. That’s why it’s important to begin your long-distance research by talking directly with the manager of each facility you have identified in the area you are targeting. After describing your father’s health status and care requirements, they will let you know if and how they can accommodate him with the level of attention that he needs.

Once you have prequalified these facilities, the next step is to make an in-person visit, which will quickly reveal if a particular facility is a good fit for your father. You’ll also have a chance to observe and talk with current residents. Their comments will be certainly be more meaningful to you than anonymous postings online.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to research ALFs as thoroughly as is necessary, I suggest working with a trusted resource in the area, such as a geriatric care manager, or a senior placement professional who is familiar with all the facilities and who can guide you objectively to the one best suited to your father. One caveat: make sure you understand their relationships — if any — to the facilities.

If you think your due diligence is completed at this point, you are mistaken. You must confirm that the facility is licensed by the state and has performed well on state inspections. Once you’ve done this, you will have graduated to the second level of considerations in choosing an assisted living facility, which is to make sure that the ambiance of the community and the daily activities and services will make this a successful move for your father.

Nancy Stein, Ph.D., is the founder of SeniorityMatters.com, a local caregiver advisory and referral service for South Florida seniors and their families. You can contact her at nancy@ senioritymatters.com.

Read more Health stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Gena Barr, outreach coordinator for the University of Miami Health System's Division of Adolescent Medicine, demonstrates how she conducts a urine sample test that determines the presence of STDs. Barr, 39, has been working at the UM clinic since 2004. “I just wanted to help people in the community," she said, adding added that the clinic, located at the Coordinated Victims Assistance Center which primarily serves domestic abuse victims, gave her the opportunity.

    Healthcare

    STDs are on the rise in Miami-Dade

    Cases of chlamydia and syphilis have almost doubled in the last seven years, causing concern and speculation about the increase.

  • Cancer

    Fasting can improve chemo effects

    The history of cancer treatment includes a long list of quack diets claiming patients can eat their way back to good health, but one approach, which involves eating less and minimizing carbohydrates, appears to produce genuine benefits.

  • chew on this

    Chew on This: Spices make food flavorful, and more healthy

    Science has once again validated observation and common sense. This time it is herbs and spices going through scientific review.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category