A Golden Oldie Outside her Assisted Living Facility

One caregiving question I’m asked often is, “How do I find the best assisted living facility for my aging parents?”

Recently I received a request to help Sally, an 82-year-young woman, with no family living nearby, find an assisted living facility to move into. Her family living cross-country asked me to be their “eyes and ears” for them.

I approach this process in three steps: (1) researching facilities, (2) touring them, and (3) deciding upon the one that will be the “best fit” for your loved ones.  This series of posts will focus on the visits and decision-making process that Sally and I went through together to find her a pleasing new home.

Setting the Scene

One day I received a phone call from close friends who live in New York.  Their 82-year-old Aunt Sally had been out of the country visiting family for about a year.  Now she was back in the U.S. and living temporarily with a friend in Los Angeles, but really needed a place to live on her own. Her family knew Sally was declining physically and it wasn’t safe for her to live independently any longer.  They asked if I could help them long-distance to find an assisted living facility for her, and I was more than happy to help.

A Little Background

Even before beginning to research options, I asked her family for details about Sally’s current physical and mental health, pertinent medical history, and how she was functioning on a list of activities of daily living (bathing, walking, eating, dressing, etc.).

Sally was born in the Philippines and spent most of her life living in New York City and Los Angeles. According to her family’s description, Sally is completely sharp mentally, with no memory loss at all.  Physically, she is also in very good condition for 82!  She has some hearing loss, but her biggest challenge is her failing eyesight due to macular degeneration. She can eat, dress, bathe and walk without assistance, although her family feels she is a little unsteady on her feet and may soon benefit from using a cane or walker.

They wanted to find a senior community in Los Angeles within Sally’s budget that offers the residents transportation for shopping and doctor’s visits because Sally doesn’t drive.  She was open to having a roommate, too. They knew that Sally was capable of, and would insist on, participating in the search and the decision about her new home. As long as an elder is cognitively well, they should be involved in all decisions about their future!

Armed with these basic facts, I began my research based on my experience, online resources and the Eldercare organizations and networks I belong to. After coming up with a long list of assisted living facilities initially, I narrowed down the choices to two communities that fit Sally’s criteria. Then I made a date to meet Sally and take her to tour both possibilities.

The story about our visits to the assisted living facilities and the outcome will be covered in my next few posts.  To continue to Part 2, click here.

Linda Abbit Author, Speaker, Family Caregiving Expert

Linda Abbit is an eldercare professional and caregiver with more than 25 years of experience caring for her parents and other family members. She is the author of "The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself," (Simon & Schuster, 2017).

Linda worked for over 10 years in the eldercare and health care professions. In 2021, she retired from her position as Community Outreach Manager for Alzheimer’s Family Center, an adult day health care agency designed solely for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and their families.

She currently speaks, leads workshops and assists family caregivers through her book, blog and the Tender Loving Eldercare Facebook page. Her talks are engaging, inspiring and, most importantly, full of real-world practices for new and veteran caregivers to implement in their daily caregiving.

In June 2023, Amy Dickinson recommended Linda's book to family caregivers in her nationally-syndicated column, "Ask Amy."

Linda holds a Master’s degree in Education and was a support group facilitator for the Alzheimer’s Association in Orange County for many years.

Her motto is "Self-care is NOT selfish."

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