Q. How do you research an assisted-living facility for your parents?—Marilyn McCabe, via e-mail
A. Start by asking sources that you know and trust—word-of-mouth referrals can be very helpful. Caregiving support groups, hospice agencies, or the local Area Agency on Aging (find the nearest office at eldercare.gov, which also has plenty of other useful information on the topic) are often quite knowledgeable about the best (and worst) regional home-care agencies and senior-living communities.
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Be aware that there is no typical assisted-living residence; they vary widely in size, appearance, cost, and services. And none are regulated by the federal government. When you’re searching, it’s critical to consider the level of care your parents need and their budget.
Be sure to check with the state licensing agency and ombudsman’s office to see whether any complaints have been filed against facilities you pick. Also check the AARP website for lots of helpful information and links to resources, including a comprehensive checklist of questions to ask each facility you visit.
Check our guide on how to choose an assisted-living facility.
Send questions to ConsumerReports.org/askourexperts.
This article also appeared in the September 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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