What Should I look for in an Assisted Living Community?

By Joan Carney, Vice President, Hebrew Life Choices and Executive Director,  Hoffman SummerWood Community and Valerie Bartos, Director of Community Relations, Hoffman SummerWood Community

What are Assisted Living Communities and are they alike?

Assisted Living Communities provide rental housing for older adults. In addition to housing, they also provide personalized care and supportive services. Examples of personalized care include assistance with bathing or dressing and medication management. Among the supportive services that are offered are meals, housekeeping, transportation, and activities. In the state of Connecticut, assisted living communities must be registered as managed residential communities (MRCs), with an assisted living services agency (ALSA) providing personal care services. The ALSA is licensed and regulated by the Department of Public Health.

How are Assisted Living Communities different?

Assisted Living Communities can be owned by for-profit organizations or by service-driven entities. Some communities are one of many, while others are unique and one of a kind. Assisted living communities can vary greatly with regard to pricing, amenities, staffing, services offered and overall philosophy. Some communities provide specialized services for memory care. Though most assisted living communities are private pay, some communities participate in a Connecticut pilot project which pays for some of the cost through Medicaid.

How do I know if Assisted Living is right for my loved one?

If your loved one is having difficulty with preparing meals, bathing or dressing, managing medications, shopping or getting to medical appointments, or just having trouble taking care of their home, assisted living may be the answer. Often, the real question is not so much “Is assisted living the solution?” but rather “Which assisted living community is the right one for my loved one?” Here are some helpful tips:

  • Visit more then one community during your search, and on different days, to learn what programs and services are offered at each.

  • Ask what makes the community different from other communities and ask about the longevity of their key staff, as this is a good indicator of level of commitment.

  • Meet other residents who live there and ask to speak with family members of residents; they can be a very helpful resource.

  • Inquire about having your loved one spend an afternoon, dine with the members, and participate in some programs to get a better feel for the community.     

In addition to utilizing  Hoffman SummerWood Community (www.hoffmansummerwood.org) as a resource in your search for assisted living, The Connecticut Assisted Living Association ( www.ctassistedliving.com) and the Assisted Living Federation of America (www.alfa.org) offer a wealth of information for the consumer.

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