National senior living search expert offers families objective advice on evaluating senior care options in wake of PBS exposé

Doug Fusella, president and COO of New LifeStyles.
Doug Fusella, president and COO of New LifeStyles.

With the recent airing of “Life and Death in Assisted Living” – an examination by PBS FRONTLINE and ProPublica of the nation’s largest assisted living company which raised questions about the drive for profits and fatal lapses in care – many Americans want more information on how to find senior care they can trust.

Senior industry expert and New Jersey native Doug Fusella, president and COO of New LifeStyles, a national source for senior housing and healthcare, is urging families to become proactive in selecting the right senior community and monitoring care once an aging parent becomes a resident. Fusella offers a short set of guidelines to help adult children make wise and timely choices—and how to know when the next level of care is needed. He is often sought by media for high-level, objective insight on senior living issues.

“The PBS FRONTLINE story regarding the assisted living industry has awakened many to how seniors and their adult children need to be in vigilant at every step in working with an assisted living community,” said Fusella. “What they need now are some guidelines for exercising that vigilance, and it’s not really a hard or complex list.”


Fusella encourages seniors and their adult children to look for certain key indicators that can give insight into an assisted living community’s competency.  The key to selecting and staying with an assisting living community, says Fusella, is focusing on how they handle health issues during each of three major stages: Evaluation, Ongoing Health Monitoring, and Willingness to Acknowledge Limits of Care. He says everyone should watch for green lights or red lights during the entire range of service:


Evaluation Stage.  During initial evaluation before admittance, does the community provide a thorough assessment of the prospective resident’s health status?  If the initial assessment matches the one done by the senior’s personal doctor, that’s a green light.  If the review is cursory and the emphasis is on how happy the resident is going to be, with admittance seemingly a foregone conclusion, that’s a red light.


Ongoing Health Monitoring. Once admitted, the senior community should be alert to any signs of a degrading health condition, such as bed sores or depression, and report those conditions to the family immediately. That’s a green light. When an aging parent seems less concerned about their appearance or the family discovers symptoms of illness that have not been reported to them, that’s a red light.


Willingness to Acknowledge Care Limits. All senior residents ultimately decline in health due to increasing age.  Assisted living communities that accept the limited range of health services they provide and recommend transfer to skilled nursing, even when it means losing a resident, earn a green light. Senior communities with staff members who don’t understand their own limitations in treating health issues, or who minimize or mask worsening health issues, are sending out a strong red light.


New LifeStyles is also providing the public a powerful new iPhone app to help identify all certified assisted living communities—and other options as well—in a local area with links to allow rapid comparison.  As the leader in the senior care sourcing industry since releasing their first print guide in 1987 and the first website guide in 1995, they are now offering a digital guide, iPhone app, and a mobile site – all free of charge – to accommodate the person on-the-go.


“Launching our digital platform was crucial – we needed to make sure that people doing research for senior care or senior living options had the information available to them through the most current channels,” said Fusella. “The New LifeStyles iPhone app offers its updated geo-mapping system that allows users to see every senior community or health care provider nearby based on a user’s current location.  Each community ‘pin’ is color-coded to identify the community by type, so you are able to tailor your search to assisted living communities only. The display includes all licensed facilities, so it is unbiased and comprehensive. Once you have identified communities of interest, you must do your homework.”


About New Lifestyles

New LifeStyles is the nation’s oldest and most established source for senior living options, providing comprehensive, quality information on senior communities and care options. The services provided by New LifeStyles help seniors make an informed, comfortable decision about their future.  In addition, these extensive resources are easily accessible – not only saving users time and money, but also reducing the frustration of trying to find information from multiple sources, agencies, or organizations. Whether looking for a nursing, retirement, or assisted living community, home care or something else, New LifeStyles can help seniors and their loved ones make the best decisions to fit their needs. For more information about New LifeStyles, visit www.NewLifeStyles.com or call 1-800-869-9549.


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