A System for Selecting an Assisted Living Community

As you have likely learned through reading our blog posts and your own life experiences, the transition to assisted living is a stressful and emotionally charged period of your life. It’s also likely an incredibly scary and uneasy part of your loved one’s life.

In previous posts, we’ve shared information to help prepare you for this moment – the time when you and your loved one will select an assisted living community.

Visit our previous posts for resources on what to look for when researching and touring assisted living facilities. This information can help to convert a chaotic and often panic-filled situation into a calm, thoughtful and logical decision making process.

Now let’s discuss how to select the right assisted living community for your loved one:

Comparing the Finalists
By now you should have collected detailed information on several assisted living communities. You’ve had good and bad first impressions of communities, people, insurance companies and all the things that run hand-in-hand with this transition. For reasons both known and unknown to you, you’ve probably also excluded several communities.

When trying to find a community for my mom, my sister and I looked at many communities before ultimately making a decision. We struggled to find a technique that enabled us to make a decision that satisfied three criteria:

1. Compare all communities across the same attributes

2. Give some attributes more weight than others

3. Deliver an objective, measurable final selection

Why were we so formal? Because we knew that we had put every ounce of our souls into finding the best community we could. We didn’t want to ruin a decision by injecting too much bias into it..

Choosing Attributes

We decided on six attributes on which to make our community selection. They are:

  • Location: the geographic location of the community; proximity to family, friends and shopping; amenities of the community and size/ layout of the apartment.
  • Staff: experience of the executive team; friendliness of the dining room staff; staff treatment of residents and their observed interactions.
  • Activities: activities calendar; personality and demeanor of the activities director; amenities related to activities including transportation, game rooms and other entertainment.
  • Quality of care: the experience of the nursing staff; proximity to fire, hospital and emergency services; rehabilitation rooms and quality of the therapists.
  • Cost: total monthly cost of community at the level of care required for my mother.
  • Gut feeling: you have instincts for a reason. Use them.

Over the last several years, I’ve shared this list with many people and validated that it addressed the vast majority of families. Now that you have a group of attributes against which you can measure your finalists, let’s add a measure of importance to each one.

Weighing Attributes
Different things are important to different people, and you’ll likely have strong feelings about the relative important of one attribute over another. This is called weighting.

Weights are applied by giving each attribute a percentage from 0-100%. Those attributes you deem most important receive the highest percentage weight. The total of all attributes must equal 100%.
It’s important that you apply weights to the attributes before you begin ranking your community finalists. This will enable you to minimize unnecessary bias before the score process.

Ranking Final Communities
Now that you have removed the unnecessary bias from your decision, you can score each community against the others. The score will occur for each attribute above. You will likely find communities will be a leader in some attributes and a follower in others. This is normal.

Armed with this system, you will be able to sift through all of the information you’ve gathered and decide on a community that will meet your loved one’s and your family’s needs.

Photo credit: winnifredxoxo

New Gallup Research Profiles Caregivers in the U.S.

Have you ever wondered whether there are other people out there like you, balancing caregiving for an elder or disabled loved one with a full or part-time job?  New Gallup research sponsored by Pfizer and ReACT (Respect A Caregiver’s Time) provides demographic information about U.S. workers who are also caregivers.

To answer the question above, you are not alone. An estimated 17 percent of U.S. workers do double-duty as caregivers for elderly or disabled loved ones or friends. Overall, 16 percent of working men and 20 percent of working women are also caregivers. The majority of these caregivers (22 percent) are between the ages of 45 and 64 years old. The age group least represented as both workers and caregivers are 18 to 29 years old.

Infographic from Gallup Management Journal.


Caregivers are represented in every major demographic group, with 17 percent of  working whites, 21 percent of working blacks and 20 percent of working Hispanics also providing care. The research shows a correlation between income, education and caregiving. As income level and education level increase, the propensity for a worker to also be a caregiver decreases.

What is the Cost of Caregiving?
The intention of the Gallup research is to highlight how effective U.S. employers are in addressing caregiver needs and what the hidden costs of caregivers missing work are to those employers.

Infographic from Gallup Management Journal.

Below are some findings about the types of benefits working caregivers receive and the cost of caregiving:

  • Less than half of U.S. employees have access to assistance programs where they can discuss any emotional stress that comes along with balancing caregiving and their jobs.
  • Only 27 percent of U.S. workers who are also caregivers have access to support groups or health counselors who can answer any questions about providing care.

Gallup also takes a look at how each type of initiative, from vacation days to flex time and counseling, can impact caregiver absenteeism. Organizations that provide counseling to discuss caregiving options such as assisted living and nursing homes, may see an improvement of 1.2 fewer work days a year missed by caregivers. Support groups will reduce caregiver absenteeism by 1.1 days a year, and paid vacation by one day a year. All of the other options, including unpaid vacation, sick leave and flex time, will make an impact of less than one day per year in a caregiver’s schedule.

Studying ten benefits for caregivers who work full or part time, Gallup finds that if U.S. employers offer at least 8 of these 10 caregiver benefits, it can reduce the cost of caregiver absenteeism by 23 percent of its current level, or $5.8 billion dollars.

The research concludes by offering suggestions for small, medium and large businesses about caregiver initiatives that can have the most positive impact on employees and the bottom line. To review the complete findings, visit Gallup’s Management Journal.

Photo credit: Images_of_Money