Moving your parent or older loved one to an assisted living facility can be one of the best decisions you make for their overall happiness, health, and wellbeing. But once you’ve determined that it’s time for assisted living, the next important step is choosing the right community.
With so many different types of communities available, it’s not always easy to know what’s best for your parent. If you’re just starting the assisted living search, here are a few elements to consider as you weigh your options.
Quality of Care
Perhaps the most important factor in the search for assisted living is the quality of care your loved one will receive. Assisted living is ideal for older adults who are fairly independent, but may need extra help with tasks such as grooming, dressing, bathing, medication management, and other daily activities. On your tour, take time to observe the staff and residents, and ask plenty of questions. For example:
- What is the caregiver-to-resident ratio? How often are residents’ care needs assessed and updated?
- How does the staff communicate with the resident’s physician?
- Are caregivers and registered nurses available 24 hours a day?
- Are staff members friendly and attentive when interacting with residents?
- Do residents seem healthy, well-groomed, and happy?
Amenities and Services
Today’s assisted living facilities offer a wide variety of amenities and services for residents to enjoy. Common amenities included in most assisted living communities may include housekeeping services, scheduled transportation to appointments and errands, pet-friendly spaces, and on-campus dining. Some assisted living communities even have restaurants, beauty salons and barbershops, laundry services, and other amenities available. When you visit, ask to review a complete list of the on-campus services and amenities for residents.
Safety and Security
Another factor to consider when choosing an assisted living community is the level of safety and security provided. Look for safety and accessibility features such as grab bars in bathrooms, handrails in the hallways, zero-step entryways, and wheelchair-accessible ramps. Some good questions to ask include:
- Are there alert systems or call buttons in the residents’ rooms, common areas, and bathrooms?
- Does the community hire a security staff and use a camera monitoring system?
- Are exits and entrances secure to prevent memory care patients from wandering?
- What are the standard procedures for emergencies and evacuations? How will family members be contacted in the event of an emergency?
- What are the protocols for allowing visitors?
Social activities and wellness programs
One of the best parts about assisted living is that residents have endless opportunities to make new friends and enjoy an engaging social life. Common activities in assisted living include book clubs, group fitness classes, and trips to local restaurants, movies, or shopping centers. Most assisted living facilities also have common areas for residents to enjoy with family and friends, including dining areas and cafés, libraries, worship areas, outdoor seating, and walking trails.
As you visit nearby assisted living communities, it’s important to pay attention to the details and trust your gut feelings. Can you imagine your parent or loved one living comfortably and thriving in the community? Remember, choosing an assisted living community takes time. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and take multiple tours as you compare communities and determine which option is best for your senior loved one.