Assisted living facilities provide assistance to seniors by helping them with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) while trying to maintain their independence.
Transitioning your parent, grandparent, or senior loved one into an assisted living facility can be stressful and very emotional. It is important that you find the right assisted living facility based on the seniors care needs, location and family’s budget. But of course, not every assisted living facility will be the right fit for your loved one. You might have to visit several assisted living facilities before you can find the perfect one.
Here are some guidelines to help you find the right assisted living facility:
- Visit each facility during an active time of day.
Schedule a tour when there is an activity or event in the assisted living community. It will be ideal if you and your loved one can participate in the program. This will give you a chance to observe how the residents and staff members interact with each other. Are the staff members friendly and attentive? Are the residents enjoying themselves and connecting with others?
Also, be sure to check the activities calendar. This should be posted somewhere in the facility. If you can’t find it, ask the community director or any of the staff members for a copy. It’s important that you find an assisted living that offers activities that your senior loved one enjoys for socialization and stimulation purposes.
- Keep your ears and nose open for noise levels and cleanliness.
When touring, observe the surroundings. Is the community clean? How about the smell? Do you smell anything bad? An odor may have been caused by a recent, isolated incident, but a persistent odor is definitely a red flag. This means that the facility is not being properly maintained or the caregivers are not providing the care that the residents deserve.
It would be good to ask about the services they provide like laundry and housekeeping services. Are these services included in the cost or do they charge extra fees for these services?
- Interact with the staff.
Talk to the caregivers and staff members. Observe how the caregivers interact with the current residents. Do they seem caring and friendly? Do they talk to the residents in a respectful way? Ask to be introduced to the assisted living manager or administrator so you can ask her questions about the facility. Remember, the manager or the administrator will be your main contact for any issues so be sure that she is knowledgeable and passionate about her job.
A facility with skilled and caring staff members will most likely be more equipped in providing a safer and more enjoyable environment for your loved one.
- Try the food.
Who doesn’t love good food? We all do, right? Eating a delicious, healthy, well-balanced meal is very important, especially for seniors. Most assisted living communities offer potential residents and their families a free meal after they tour. Be sure to take advantage of this offer so you and your loved one can try their food. Take some time to engage with some of the current residents during mealtime, if you can. Ask them for their opinions about the community and of course about the food. We often overlook, how important the meal choices are to the elderly. Keep in mind that food is usually a priority for them and food can impact the quality of your loved ones assisted living experience.
- Evaluate the safety and security measures.
Placing your loved one in a safe and secure environment is crucial when choosing an assisted living place. Walking around the outdoor areas of the facility will give you a good idea if the community feels safe or not. This will also give you a chance to see what kind of security measures they have in place.
Go a step further and ask a few questions about their security and safety protocols. A good assisted living facility will provide an emergency plan and hold quarterly safety drills with their residents and staff members. Check the surroundings. Do they have grab bars next to the toilet and showers? Did they provide rubber mats and shower chairs? How about lighting, do they have night-lights in hallways and bathrooms? Ask about the resident-caregiver ratio. Is there sufficient staff at any given time of day? Ask what kind of staff they have. Do they have registered nurses on site or on call?
Taking the time to assess the level of safety and security of an assisted living is very important to give you peace of mind.
- Ask about caretaking procedures.
Part of moving into an assisted living facility means that your loved one will start depending on different people to help them take care of themselves. Personal care is one of the most vital aspects of giving your loved one a good quality of life.
Ask the staff about their procedures, such as bathing options, and be sure to observe the current residents. Do they appear well groomed? Have they been dressed correctly and appropriately for the time of year? Does it seem like the staff members treat them with dignity and respect? Do they go the extra mile to make them feel good? Personal care is another important part in selecting the best assisted living facility because health and hygiene go hand in hand.