Senior Living Community Choices
How to Choose the Right Senior Living Community
by Stephanie Watson

Senior Living is often a great choice for our older generation looking for more activity and socialization in their lives, while offering assistance with daily activities such as housekeeping, laundry & meal preparation.

 Assisted Living can also provide non-medical care such as medication management and assistance with dressing, bathing ambulating & incontinence care.  Some Assisted Living Communities specialize in Dementia Care, as well as partner with Hospice Agencies.  Looking for the right Assisted Living can be a daunting task.  Be careful not to be sold solely on the attractiveness of the community, and don’t wait for a crisis situation to begin looking.  Below is a list of some of the things to keep your eyes open for when beginning your search:

Cleanliness:  Look around.  Don’t forget the sniff test!

Friendliness:  Observe staff interacting with current residents.  Are they listening, smiling & making eye contact?

Activities:  Ask to see the activity schedule.  Are they offering activities to match your loved ones ability and interests? Observe.  Are both the staff & the residents enjoying the activities?

Meals:  Discuss entree choices and how special diets and/or requests are accommodated.  Review a weekly menu to look for healthy options.  If not offered, ask for a complementary meal to taste the food.  This is also a great way to feel the ambience of the community and to meet some of the current residents.  The dining room experience is an important part of each resident’s day.

Caregiving:  Again, observe the current residents to insure they are well-groomed & dressed appropriately.  Ask about the staff training and qualifications while discussing you or your loved ones specific needs. How do they handle emergencies?

Safety & Security:  Ask about staffing procedures during the day versus at night.  What time are the doors locked?  Do all visitors sign in?  Look for grab bars, emergency call buttons & other safety features.

Location:  Is the location convenient for family members to visit?  Also, ask if there are any restrictions on visiting hours.

Rates:  In addition to the monthly rate, are there any community or move-in fees?  Be sure to understand what the monthly rate includes.  Ask about any additional charges.  What would cause the rate to increase and what is the highest it could go?

Dementia:  What is the community’s philosophy on how those with dementia are cared for?  Are the caregivers specially trained in Memory Care?  Are the activities geared toward those with memory impairment?  Is the area safe & secure for someone who may be a wander risk?

Hospice:  If Hospice services are desired, can they be provided in this community so the resident can remain in their new home until end-of-life?

Other residents:  Ask them how they like the community.  Talk to their family members.  They are your best source for a recommendation (or not).

Overview:  Have all of your questions been answered satisfactorily?  Do you feel welcome & comfortable?  Is the staff respectful & sincere?  Can you picture yourself or your loved one living at the community & enjoying time with the other residents you’ve met?  Would you/they feel safe, loved & valued in this new environment?  Trust your instincts and your heart!