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Understanding Senior Living Assessments

Senior living communities may need residents to take an assessment to determine level of care.

If your loved one is considering moving to a senior living community, you know some of them have multiple levels of care. Most independent living communities also have assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. But how do you know which level of care is right for your loved one?

Before any potential resident can move into any type of senior living community, the staff will conduct a thorough, in-person senior living assessment of your family member’s physical and cognitive health. This will help them determine which level of care will allow your loved one to live the most active and engaged life possible.

What Is a Senior Living Assessment?

Often conducted by a nurse or another admissions employee at the retirement community, a senior living assessment is performed to determine your loved one’s current care needs. Even if your loved one wants to move into independent living, an assessment will be conducted to ensure they’re able to live fully on their own or determine whether they need some in-home care. If your family member needs more assistance than can be provided through personal care, their assessment will be vital in helping the community create a personalized care plan. Regardless of the initial level of living, periodic senior living assessments will be conducted to ensure your loved one is getting all the care and support they need to safely remain independent.

A typical assessment will examine and rank your family member’s behaviors, chronic illnesses, communication abilities, dietary requirements, ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), ability to manage medications, need for assistive devices, and much more. Senior living communities will typically want family members and/or caregivers to attend the senior living assessment to help with information gaps and provide objective insight on your family member’s level of functioning.

Any senior living assessment will require making a list of all the special requirements your loved one may or may not need. While some questions may get quite personal and cover topics that aren’t openly discussed, it’s important to answer them honestly to help you and your family make the best choice. Topics include:

  • Special supportive services: Does your loved one need oxygen or have nay needs that would require extra assistance from the community’s staff?
  • Activities of daily living: Can your family member dress and feed themselves? Do they need help getting in and out of a chair or bed? Are they able to bathe themselves? Do they need reminders to take their medication?
  • Dietary/nutritional needs: Do they need to follow a low-salt and/or low-fat diet? Are there other dietary restrictions as well?
  • Mobility: Does your loved one need a cane, walker, wheelchair or or mobility scooter? How steady are they on their feet?
  • Housekeeping: Is your family member able to do laundry, wash the dishes, and clean their living area?
  • Mental condition and confusion: Is your family member aware of people, places, and time? Do they have occasional confusion and some difficulty recalling retails? Do they occasionally need some prompting, or does their confusion/disorientation mean they need regular prompting?
  • Transportation: Is your loved one able to drive, or can they use public transportation?
  • Medical needs and monitoring: What are your family member’s medical needs, and how often do they need to be monitored?
  • Medical administration:  Does your loved one remember to take their medication?
  • Health issues and conditions:  Does your family member have any of these conditions: arthritis, diabetes, cancer, dementia, digestive disorders, hearing impairment, heart trouble, high blood pressure, incontinence, stroke, visual impairment?How much do these conditions impact heir ability to be independent?
  • Fall history and risk: Has your family member ever fallen? Have they fallen in the last three months? If so, have they fallen more than once?
  • Level of mobility: Is your loved on independently mobile? Do they need an assistive device? Do they require the help of one person to help them get in/out of bed or a chair? Can they get around in a wheelchair on their own, or do they need someone to push it? Do they require more than one person to help get around?
  • Bathroom assistance: If your loved one has bowel or bladder incontinence, can they manage it on their own or with the help of protective and/or assistive devices? Do they need to be reminded to got to the bathroom? Do they need to be reminded to wear protective garments? Do they need help getting to and using the bathroom? DO they require the help or more than one person?

Assessing Your Options

To start exploring the senior living options for your loved one, you can locate nearby communities with our Find a Community tool. It’s important to start early so you can find a lifestyle that fits your loved one’s needs.

Where You Live Matters is powered by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a respected voice in the senior housing industry. ASHA primarily focuses on legislative and regulatory advocacy, research, and educational opportunities and networking for senior living executives, so they can better understand the needs of older adults across the country.