If you or someone you love needs help and can no longer live alone, finding the right place for them to go can seem like a daunting challenge. There are things you can do when you tour any assisted living community that you are considering to make the process easier.
- Go to the assisted living community during some kind of activity. One of the things that can give you a good sense of what living at various assisted living communities is really like is to see how the residents and staff interact during activities that are held there. There is a lot of research that shows that the more active older people are, the healthier and happier they are. While it is hard to move out of a home that they have been in for decades, one real benefit that senior living services offers is an increase in social structure. When you check out the facility during a community activity, you get a real sense for what the place is like.
- Pay attention to the cleanliness level. What is the first thing you notice about the assisted living community? If the first thing you notice is a bad smell (remember that accidents happen so it may be nothing), that is not a good thing. Check areas that are not always looked at like the windows and the baseboards. Ask what the policies and procedures they have for laundry. Make a list of the issues or perceived issues that you find and bring them them to the staff when you talk to them.
- How friendly is the staff? Look to see how friendly you find the staff. They make a huge difference in how the people enjoy living at the assisted living community. What you want are staff who genuinely want to work at the facility, care about the residents and enjoy what they do. You or your loved one will be very much at the mercy of the people who work at the facility. If they are unresponsive or downright abusive, you have to go someplace else. You should ask the management about staff turnover, how they are recruited and how much they work. If they are unresponsive because they are overworked, that is a very bad thing.
- Check out the areas around the grounds. This should be one of the first things you notice, the state of the grounds of the assisted living community. Take your time and take a walk around the grounds. Abraham Lincoln once said, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.” One thing that can really lift the spirits is some time outside on a nice day. Make sure the outdoor areas are well maintained and that you feel safe when you are out there.
- Try the food at the facility. The quality of our food can have a very profound impact on our quality of life. When you are there during mealtime, not only do you get a chance to try the food for yourself but you can also chat with the people who live in the facility already. Talk to them about how much they like living there. Also make a note of how alert and happy they seem to you. Ask them about what they like and what they do not like about living there.
- Look into the move out policies. Even if you do all of your research, ask all of the right questions and do your due diligence, not every assisted living community works for every person. After you or your loved one may have moved in, it may become apparent that the place just is not a good fit. If that were to happen, what would need to be done to allow the person to move out? Many places require a certain time of notice be given. On the flip side, there are times when the assisted living community asks a resident to leave. What criteria do they use? You need to know these things before you buy into a community.
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