At some point, you may find that you have a family member who can no longer live on their own. This is a hard decision to make. The good news is that many seniors find that they are a lot happier than they would have thought when living in an assistance living situation. It is important to take some time and visit the assisting living facilities that you are considering. Here are some tips for what to look for as you tour these assisted living center:
- Schedule your visit when they are conducting an activity. Most assistance living centers offer events and activities for their residents. You may even be able to participate in the activity if you talk to the manager of the facility in advance. This can provide a great way to interact with the other residents and get to know the staff. Look over the calendar of events to see if they even offer any that your family member would be interested in doing. If your loved one is religious, ask about what kinds of religious services they offer or if they provide transportation to outside facilities for worship purposes. A thriving assisted living center will have a variety of events. Make sure they offer activities that interest your family member. Many seniors play Bridge, for instance so if that is something your loved one is interested in, ask about it.
- Try the food. The quality of the food can have a huge impact on the quality of life for the residents of the assistance living centers. When you go during a meal, you get several opportunities. You can try the food and talk to the other people who live there. That is a good way to see what it is really like to live in the assisted living facility. Ask about the schedule for dining and what the options are if your loved one is unable to get to the dining hall for a meal. Dining can be an important part of the lives of the residents so having a good program is important.
- Look at how clean the facility is. Observe how the place smells. There is a chance that there has been some kind of accident so if you smell something that is not quite right, ask the staff what is going on. Talk to the staff about the housekeeping procedures, both for the communal spaces but also the living quarters. Look into the corners and windows. Talk to the people at the facility about what they do about laundry.
- Get to know the staff. How engaged are the staff of the assistance living center? When you talk to the management, ask about staff turnover. Ask how they find and hire their staff, what kinds of hours they work and what training they receive. Overworked and underpaid workers are not happy workers. You want to find a supportive living facility that has staff that want to work there. The last thing you want is to have your family member live at a center where the staff are bitter and mean to the residents. Ask, too, about the ratio of staff to resident.
- Ask about what happens if your family member wants to move. As hard as you may work to find the right assistance living community, there is always a chance that they are not happy in the location that you select. Most of the centers require residents give a month’s notice before they move out. By the same token, you need to ask what criteria they use to ask residents to leave. That happens from time to time. Make sure you are familiar with their polices and procedures.
- Trust your gut. You know your family member. You also know when you get a good or a bad vibe from a place. Do not dismiss that. It may not mean anything but it may mean everything. You may not want to make this your only criteria but if you get a bad feeling from a place, there is probably a very good reason.
Finding the right assistance living facility will take some effort but will give you a much higher confidence level in your decision.