8 Problems with Finding Assisted Living and How to Avoid Them

Assisted Living

8 Problems with Finding Assisted Living and How to Avoid Them

Posted 05/27/2022By Admin User16 min read
The need for assisted living is increasing with a rising aging population in the US. However, with more people looking for assisted living than ever before, there are several common challenges that seniors and their families experience. Knowing these eight common mistakes will help you begin your search effectively and ultimately find the best assisted living community.

image1) Starting Too Late to Find Assisted Living.

With the high demand for senior living and specific care needs and preferences, finding the Right Fit for senior living can be a challenge. Some communities can have waitlists that are years long. Residents and their families should begin their research a year in advance and start their search and touring at least six months in advance. This way, you're giving yourself the best chance to find the perfect community for your needs without settling.

image2) Having Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen.

When it is time to begin looking into senior living or assisted living, a family advisor, family member, or loved one is often involved in the process. Sometimes too many people with good intentions can make the process more difficult than easier. Establishing the roles and responsibilities of each influencer early in the process can make it go smoother. It can also be helpful to use tools such as a shared spreadsheet or share Purple Door Finders Right Fit Lifestyle tools to allow everyone in the decision-making process to see the details of communities, checklists, and other important information. Collect this information from all involved in the decision before you tour a community in person.

image3) Looking for the Wrong Type of Assisted Living Communities.

Understanding what type of living and care needs are available and what will be the best fit is vital to the process. This requires research and guidance. Take the time to learn about the options available for senior living communities and assisted living, as well as other types of residential care homes, rehabilitation, or skilled nursing facility that are available. 

It is also essential to take affordability into account. For instance, you may need to find an assisted living community that accepts the Medicaid waiver program to cover the costs. Medicaid Links by State, Other Resources by State and The Purple Door Right Fit Assessment tool are excellent resources for understanding your needs.

image4) Not Considering Waitlists for Assisted Living Facilities.

With an ever-growing senior population, the need for senior and assisted living is more significant than ever. The number of communities and facilities is growing as well. The options have not yet met the demand in some areas, especially if you need lower-cost senior or assisted living. Depending on your personal care assistance requirements, waitlists can be from months to years.

image5) Not Considering Financial Barriers.

It comes as no surprise that senior and assisted living can be expensive. There are varying levels of care and types of living that all come with different costs. The senior’s income can affect the costs, and coverage can vary. For instance, a care home may have fewer amenities and higher quality of care and fit your budget better than a larger community (with higher costs due to more amenities and other expenses).

Regarding income, specific long-term care policies, Medicare allowances, and pensions will all have different terms and qualifications that could be affected by choice in community and type of medical care. It’s vital to fully understand the financial resources and terms of the type of senior or assisted living you need, so you will not have financial surprises about assisted living costs when the time comes.

When understanding the cost of living in an assisted living facility, you must understand the assisted living services.  You will need to live comfortably and safely; this includes personal care needs, health care needs, and availability of assistance, such as around-the-clock care.  Personal care services, medication management, and help with daily living activities will financially impact assisted living costs.

One of the first mistakes people make when searching for assisted living is not knowing what services are included. Assisted living communities can offer various services, but not all will have the same amenities. It's essential to sit down and list what services you or your loved one needs before beginning your search. This way, you can narrow down your options and find a community that best suits your needs.

Many seniors also have lifestyle needs that assisted living options may offer, such as transportation, alert systems, meals, laundry, and entertainment. Understanding your care needs and assisted living community services is essential.

There are a lot of factors that go into pricing, such as location, services offered, and more. It's essential to clearly understand your budget before beginning your search. This way, you can avoid any unpleasant surprises down the road.

image6) Not Knowing Enough About Assisted Living.

They say you don’t know what you don’t know; in your search for senior or assisted living, this can cause significant problems. You don’t want to move into a community that isn’t the Right Fit™ or the best long-term fit Right Fit Assessment and Lifestyle. It is essential to understand your options, but you also need to understand future needs. You need to understand what matters most to your aging loved one.

You also must fully understand the financial aspect of qualifying for income through your retirement investments, pensions, and savings. There are a lot of elements to be familiar with, and it’s essential to be familiar with as many as possible. When you've found a few assisted living communities that meet your needs, it's necessary to check their reputation. Read online reviews, talk to people you know who have lived in the community, and more. Most states offer a website for their licensing agency of assisted living communities. Here is a link to most states where you can look up the community report card for each community within their state. The Licensing by State tool will help you better understand what it's like to live there and if it's the right fit.

image7) They Don't Want to Move; Having a Resistant Loved One.

One of the biggest obstacles to finding the best fit for senior and assisted living is that older adults are only sometimes in alignment or agreement with a change in living arrangements or the level of care needed. While families and loved ones often take on senior living and care responsibilities, the aging loved one needs to accept and feel comfortable with the choices and not leave the family home. Help them understand that the community will help them maintain as much independence as possible and will continue to encourage them to live independently under their new roof. 

Please ensure they fully understand everything and are being communicated with; make sure they make some decisions independently and consult doctors and other caregivers. Read more about adjusting to change in our article 5 Best Ways to Ease Your Parent Into a New Living Situation or Assisted Living Facility, which provides valuable tips for helping seniors adjust.

8) Underestimating the Time Commitment to Finding the Right Assisted Living Facility.

Finding the right assisted living community does take time. It is a process. You will need to research online and possibly work with a senior living advisor. You will need to spend time with the senior (and other family members) reviewing options; you will need to tour communities. A lot of paperwork is involved (this isn’t just filling out a lease). You may need to consult with doctors and other healthcare professionals if there are care needs. Finding the best fit for senior and assisted living can be a significant time commitment.

Knowing these eight common issues senior residents and their families face when looking for senior and assisted living, here are some ways to avoid them.

Start the Search Early.

It's better to be safe than sorry and end up in a situation where you have to choose a community based on immediate need rather than the best fit. Between waitlists and touring and applying for communities, finding an assisted living facility that best suits your needs can take considerable time.

At Purple Door Finders, we recommend looking before you have the immediate need, ideally one year in advance. Start by knowing your needs and financial resources, and then look at communities that offer the care needs and lifestyle preferences that fit you best. Take your time and research the communities. Tour the communities and experience what life within that community will look like for you or your loved one. Purple Door Finders has created a FREE comprehensive directory of communities across the United States.  This MLS-style website will profile the communities in your search area, their floorplans, availability, monthly payment, and fees.

Understand Needs and Lifestyle Preferences.

Trying to find assisted living with a clear understanding of what is needed can make finding the right match easier. Assisted living communities offer a wide range of care and support services, so it's essential to understand what services are needed before beginning your search. It would help if you understood what activities of daily living, or ADLs, and which ones are included in the communities levels of care.

Create a list of your care needs and what you anticipate in the near future. Illnesses and medical conditions generally have higher needs as time progresses, and assistance with activities of daily living increases. This will help you narrow down your options and find a community that fits your needs well.

Lifestyle preferences are features and offerings of an assisted living community that will make living there comfortable and enjoyable for the resident. You should also consider the amenities and features of the community, such as outdoor areas, card rooms, movie rooms, private room or family dining rooms, laundry services, on-site support groups, transportation services, and beauty salons, to name a few.

Many communities will offer planned events and social activities within the community and excursions off-premise, such as to a local theater or grocery store, often providing transportation So if these lifestyle preferences are essential to you, be sure to learn what is available in the various communities you are considering. These may be the feature that helps you decide about your Right Fit for assisted living.

When touring, or even before, ask about amenities the communities provide and request the current calendar of activities. You can even ask to attend some before commenting on a community to get to know other residents and get a sense of what living in the community may be like. This will ease the transition and make you more confident in deciding which community you want to live in.

One significant preference may be the location of the community as well. Many people must consider where the community is when searching for assisted living. Consider the location relative to important areas such as doctors, families, and favorite activities. It's essential to consider things like climate, setting, and closeness to nature. Considering these factors will help you find a community in the perfect location for you or your loved one.

Do a Background Check on the Community

Know the communities you are looking at. Tours can be great, and the community staff can be great... However, be sure to do your due diligence.

All assisted living communities must be licensed. The community should be able to provide you with the license number, but it should also be on their website and published in other places, such as their brochure. Check with your state for license status and any reports on the community you may want to know about. If you ask, many assisted living communities will have their state licensing reports available to be viewed upon request. An independent living community is not required to be licensed by their state.  Keep in mind these types of communities may also be called senior living communities. Skilled nursing care offers a clinical setting with a higher level of skilled medical care.  They are licensed by Medicare and overseen by the federal government.  

Most communities will have an online presence on other websites or at least on Google. Check them out to see what other assisted living residents say about their experiences with the community to be sure you are comfortable with it. If there are any negative comments or feedback, feel free to address those concerns with the community directly.

Maybe even check out their social media profile to see how people react and support the community. Social media is often a place where communities share photos, events, and other news to help you get to know the community better.

In today's day and age, it's easier than ever to find information and reviews of just about anything online. When looking for assisted living, be sure to do the same by checking the license status, online reviews, and other online information. This can give you a good idea of what others have experienced working with and living in the community. It will put your mind at ease and help you to make a confident decision.

Know Your Financial Resources.

The cost of assisted living is rising, as are general prices. While assessing your needs and living preferences, you will begin to understand the costs associated with assisted living. You also must know your financial resources and plan how to pay for assisted living. You should know what Medicare and Medicaid coverage and benefits you are eligible for. You should also understand other sources of financial support, whether from pensions, investments, or family financial assistance. Here is a list of the most common sources of financial resources. You may wish to use this tool to help you: The Right Fit Financial Calculator

  • Social security
  • Retirement savings
  • Investments
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Veterans benefits
  • Pensions
  • Long-Term care insurance
  • Cash savings
  • Reverse mortgages
  • Income from home sales
  • Rental property income
  • Income from annuities
  • Cash contributions from family

6) Be Thorough

Once you've narrowed down your options for assisted living, it's time to take in-person tours of the facilities. This is an essential step in the process because it allows you to see firsthand what the community is like. Pay attention to things like cleanliness, the staff, and more. This will help you better understand what it would be like to live there.

When you're on your tour, ask plenty of questions. This is your opportunity to get all the information you need about the community. You may want to ask about pricing, activities, and more. Use the Purple Door Finders Checklists to be sure you consider the most important details while on your tour.

Those running the community and the people supporting the residents are an essential part of the living experience. So be sure to understand who is on the assisted living staff, the care providers, staff members, medical professionals, and other caregivers. The staff-to-residents ratio can also be considered.

Lastly, consider all your options. There are a lot of different types of assisted living communities out there. It's important to consider all of your options before making a decision. There are traditional assisted living communities, continuing care retirement communities, nursing homes, care homes, and more. Each one has unique benefits that you'll want to consider.

Use Purple Door Finders Right Fit Tools

Purple Door Finders understands the needs of seniors and their families. We have developed tools to help you prepare, plan, and search for assisted living.

Go to our resources section and check out the following:

  • Right FitTM Assessment:  This short series of questions will help you identify the type of senior living that best suits your needs.
  • Right FitTM Living Preferences: This quiz asks several questions about your preferences. And give you a summarized list of the living preferences that matter most to you and can help you evaluate communities as you start your search. This is an excellent tool for families to do with their senior loved ones to understand better what is essential to the senior.
  • Right FitTM Timeline: This tool helps you plan for the search process. In each stage, a step of the search process is laid out to support you through your search.
  • Right FitTM Calculator: This calculator walks you through the various financial resources. Hence, you have a complete picture of what you can afford for assisted living costs and how you are going to afford assisted living.
  • Community Worksheet: This comprehensive checklist allows you to check all the boxes of the most important aspects of a community when evaluating if it is the Right Fit for you. This checklist is an easy download that you can use for each community and allows you to compare the compatibility of the communities with your needs and preferences.
  • Tour Checklist: This handy download is for seniors and their families to take with them on their tours of communities. Make sure you ask all the right questions while experiencing the community firsthand.
  • Guidebooks: The guidebooks offer insights into assisted living, dementia, memory care, and affording assisted living. Our guidebooks should be your first resource to get a foundational understanding of senior and assisted living.
  • Glossary: Learning all of the terms and language used in senior and assisted living can be a challenge in and of itself. As you search for assisted living facilities or other types of senior living, such as independent living, care home, memory care, nursing home, nursing care, and senior care, this resource can help you better navigate the process of finding senior living that fits you best.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Chances are, it's been asked before if you have a question. For this reason, we have developed a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions and FAQs. 

Finding the right assisted living community doesn't have to be complicated. Now that you know some of the challenges you may encounter as you search for senior and assisted living, you can be better prepared as you begin the process.

Use our list to help avoid the common issues you may encounter when looking for assisted living. Purple Door Finders offers tools and resources to help seniors and their loved ones find the best fit for senior and assisted living, so you count us as one of the tools to use when finding your Right Fit for Assisted Living.


Are there different levels of assisted living?

The term levels in assisted living typically refer to levels of care, which measures the amount of time needed for staff to assist a resident with their health and care needs. The amount of time spent will determine the level and associated fees charged for the services. Each community decides how many levels of care they will offer to their residents. As a result, some assisted living communities to provide higher levels of care than others.

How do assisted living facilities work?

Residents in assisted living facilities have their apartment, cottage, or room. There is a common area on the property, including dining areas. The staff helps with the residents' health and personal care needs on a 24/7 basis. Assistance is provided for the activities of daily living, which includes meals, housekeeping, laundry, grooming, toileting, dressing, personal hygiene, bathing, transfers from bed and chairs, and medication management.

How to convince a parent to go to assisted living?

The best thing to do is start the conversation BEFORE a crisis happens. Help your parents understand you are only doing research, and if they find a property early, it puts them ahead of the game if things were to change in their lives. Most communities will allow you to place a deposit and go on a waiting list until you're ready. This will put you in control.