When you're looking for an assisted living community for yourself or for a family member, there are several factors to take into consideration. You want to find a place that's right for you or your loved one's needs, including quality of care, health concerns and opportunities for socializing. Here are a few things to consider when choosing an assisted living community:
When you take a tour of any assisted living community – which you should always do before making a decision – take note of the general atmosphere and environment. Do you like the overall look and feel of the place, including decor and layout? Does it seem clean and well taken care of? Ask about room layouts and options and think through what you're looking for. Do they offer full apartment layouts, shared apartments or single rooms? This is important for pricing as well as for sorting through your options. In general, ask yourself whether this community feels like a place you'd like to call home.
Home is more than just where you sleep – it's also where you spend a great deal of your time, relax, and undertake hobbies. Seniors, especially those with mobility or other health issues, may have a hard time keeping up their social lives.
A good assisted living community will take this into account and offer social activities to keep seniors emotionally, mentally and physically engaged with their surroundings. Ask to see a calendar of events during your visit. Some assisted living communities offer day trips with transportation options, opportunities to shop, gentle fitness classes, social gatherings in common areas, craft areas or spiritual services.
It can be tough for seniors to make new friends – they may have had the same group of family and friends for decades, making it difficult to assimilate to a new environment. Assisted living communities should be able to address these anxieties and help seniors adjust to their new environment through care and encouragement to socialize. Ask yourself what your priorities are to live a happy, social life, and seek out communities that offer what you or your loved one need.
As we age, it becomes more and more likely that we'll develop illnesses or other conditions that may require seeking out assistance. This may be one of the main reasons you're looking for assisted living services for yourself or your loved one in the first place. To ensure staff are administering proper levels of care, many communities have registered nurses on site, while others provide easy access to hospital care and doctors nearby.
Some also will help with exercise routines or physical therapy to help a resident recover from surgeries or other medical procedures. Medical care should also include safety at the community itself. If you have a loved one with memory loss issues, this is especially important. Make sure the assisted living community has secured areas so seniors with memory issues won't be able to wander off the premises. Those without memory loss issues should also have consistent support and be able to reach out to staff should they require assistance.
Quality of staff
Staff members at assisted living communities should be experienced and qualified. Don't be afraid to ask for a staff rundown or qualifications for those charged with caring for you or your loved one. There should be enough staff to handle the number of seniors living there. You don't want any medical or other professional staff to be overwhelmed by their workload. Instead, it's ideal if seniors feel cared for, with personalized care plans that are right for them.
Staff should genuinely care for members of their community, as well, and it should show. Look around and note whether residents seem happy and relaxed in their environment. Many communities have reviews online – check these out before you make a commitment to a particular location. Communities should be fully licensed and medical care professionals should be able to show you their training requirement credentials, which vary state by state.
Proximity to family
It may not be possible for family or friends to be next door, but proximity to family should still be a consideration. Is it an easy drive for family or friends to come to visit? Are guests welcome to join seniors in having lunch or dinner in the dining room or to take seniors out for the day to shop or have a meal at a restaurant? While it's important that seniors have social activities to choose from in their community, family and friends can't be replaced, as these connections have been formed over a lifetime.
These are important elements to take into consideration when trying to choose an assisted living community. At the end of the day, one's golden years should be as happy and as comfortable as possible. So explore all the options in your area and give it some time before making such an important decision.