Have you spent the last few weeks, months, or in some cases, researching Alaska senior living communities, talking with your parent(s)? After much back and forth, has the decision finally been reached that perhaps it’s time to start exploring potential options?

With so many potential options, it can be easy to see how deciding which facility is the “right one” could seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are a few simple steps you can take to research assisted living communities such as Baxter Senior Living here in Anchorage, Alaska, before even scheduling a tour.

1)     Online Research

The best way to start this research project is with a basic Internet search. Look for all of the senior facilities in your area, or the area that you’re interested in, and see what your options are. Also, the state or local area agency on aging and long-term care related agencies can be great resources. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is also excellent resources for finding available options.

When you are conducting your online research, be sure to get the answers to these questions before you start to narrow down possible options.

  •       Is the senior living community close to shopping, doctor’s offices, a pharmacy, and any other important places your family member may need or want to visit?
  •       Is the location convenient for family and friends to visit?
  •       If the senior community is not close to your home (or even out of town), are there hotels nearby for when you or others go to visit?
  •       Is the location (city, neighborhood, etc.) considered safe?
  •       Are there any negative reviews of the senior living community through the local Alaska Commision on Aging or the Aging and Disability Resource Center?

You can also visit their social media pages and webpages to see what others have to say. It is necessary to remember that reviews are not always verified, but it is essential to read through some of them to see what others have to say.

2)     Ask Others (Friends & Family) for Recommendations

It is also a good idea to ask others whom you trust for recommendations. Ask friends, family, neighbors, and other people who you have a strong relationship with if they have ever done research into senior assisted living communities and what they found. When all was said and done, was their loved one happy with their choice? Is there anything they wish they had looked into further (or at all) but didn’t? You can even talk friends or acquaintances who currently live in an assisted living community like Baxter Senior Living and see what their thoughts are.

3)     Ask the Physician

Speak with your or your loved one’s physician if possible. They may also be able to recommend senior living communities in Anchorage. Perhaps they have provided recommendations to other patients or work with a specific facility as a consulting physician. Also, your loved one’s primary care provider will be better equipped to judge if a particular community is adequately suited for your loved one’s needs or to handle potential care that may arise.

4)     Make Phone Calls

Once you have narrowed your list down to a smaller selection of assisted living communities, call and find out if they are accepting new residents. If they are not, be sure to ask about their waiting list. It is worth noting families often put their names on waiting lists at several different facilities, so the actual length of the list may be shorter than it seems. Also, people fall off the waiting list for other reasons as well, such as choosing another facility and forgetting to update others where they placed their names, moving out of state, choosing in-home care, and other reasons. Simply because the wait time seems lengthy, don’t hesitate to put your name on the list as things can change quite rapidly.

During this phone call, you will also want to get a general idea about the community and team behind the community. Below are a few questions you can ask when you are speaking with a representative.

  •       How much do you charge for “rent”?
  •       Are all of your services included in the cost? If not, what items are considered additional services, and what is the cost for those?
  •       What types of payment are accepted? Do you take insurance? Do you have programs available to help residents afford care?
  •       What is your staff-to-resident ratio?
  •       What kind of training and licensing (and experience) does your staff possess?
  •       What are some of the activities and offerings you have available for social interaction?

Finally, you will want to ask if they offer tours and how long the tours last. Unfortunately, COVID has caused a halt to most in-person tours. However, many facilities will offer a 3D virtual tour, photo tour, or a facetime tour. During this tour, you will likely think of and be able to ask additional questions. A visit will also allow you and your loved one to get a better “feel” for the senior living home, the staff, and even the thoughts of other residents who live there.

5)     Conduct a Thorough Background Check

Alaska Senior Assisted living communities are regulated by the state. This means it is not always easy to find information about the licensing and background of the facilities you are considering. Because of this you will need to (and it is crucial to) do as much homework as possible. Take the time to contact state licensing agencies to check the records of the facility. Please inquire as to whether they have received any complaints, violations, or been the subject of any penalties or fines related to regulatory violations.

Other Considerations

In addition to the above, there are a few additional things you may want to consider while looking into senior living communities. First, before you begin researching individual locations online, take a moment to talk with your loved in about their needs. What do they need in terms of services and support (both now and in the future)? Consider whether they need assistance with maintaining independence and activities of daily living such as dressing and bathing. Are they able to remember medications on their own and “be safe” when living in a community setting? Knowing the answer to these questions upfront can guide you in your search and provide a little insight into budgeting needs.

Another element to consider is the budget mentioned above. Before setting your mind on a specific facility, it is helpful to think about how much can be spent on “rent” each month. Consider that many expenses incurred by a homeowner such as mortgages, taxes, utilities, and meals will likely be part of the fee charged by the community; however, the prices each facility charges can vary significantly. While you consider budgetary concerns, be mindful of any financial resources that can help with these expenses, such as long-term care insurance, veterans benefit, or private insurance.

Finally, make a list of the “wants” as well. What are some of the must-have amenities or services your loved one desires? This list should include those items that are non-negotiable such as a community that accepts pets or a community that offers weekly bus services to shopping options. It is also nice to create a “wish list” of things they hope their chosen community may have.

If the conversations with your loved one have led to researching senior assisted living in Anchorage, AK, contact Baxter Senior Living. The decision to move into Alaskan assisted living facility can be difficult for your loved one. Let our experienced and caring staff walk you, your loved one, and your family through the process of becoming part of our family here at Baxter Senior Living. Take a visual tour and then contact to discuss your options.

Resources

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/residential-facilities-assisted-living-and-nursing-homes

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/basics/info-2017/assisted-living-options.html