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How to Spot a Great Assisted Living Community

Senior woman and her caregiver in an assisted living community

How to Find the Best Assisted Living Community for Your Loved One

Discovering your parent may not be able to live at home on their own anymore can be an emotionally difficult realization. If, after discussing the possibilities with them, you and your loved one agree to start touring assisted living communities, there are a lot of things to consider: How much time do you have to make a decision? Where’s the best place to start? How do you know a great community when you see one? If you have time to consider several options, the best place to start is by asking trusted friends, family members and your family physician for their recommendations.

According to Argentum, the leading national trade association supporting senior living communities, the three things you should prioritize in your search are standard of care, quality of life and value. In addition to ensuring that all the basic assisted living requirements have been met, keep these must-have features top of mind to ensure you’re choosing the right assisted living facility for your loved one.

Active Residents

If the assisted living community is full of hustle and bustle, you can bet that your family member will be swept happily into the stream. Note how the residents greet each other — do they seem familiar with each other? Look for resident artwork, ongoing games, or garden plots. You want to know that there are options to be social and active if they choose, because an active lifestyle is crucial for good health. If you’re looking at nursing home care, note whether the residents are active or not during the day. There shouldn’t be a lot of people sleeping, isolated in their rooms, or parked in front of a TV.

Holistic Programming

Look for an activity calendar that comprises the dimensions of wellness: social, emotional, vocational, physical, environmental, spiritual and intellectual. Well-rounded engagement is key to maintaining your loved one’s mental and physical health. If all you see is bingo on Wednesday and chapel on Sunday, it’s time to tour the next assisted living community.

Long-Term Staff

Ask about key staff members and how long they’ve held their positions. If the staff has been in place for a while, they’re probably happy, which bodes well for resident satisfaction.

Strong Emergency Response

Independence is important, but so is getting help at the moment it’s needed. While on your tour, ask about overnight staffing — is it simply security, or are there medical professionals on-site? Look for features such as pendant or cord alarms, which your family member could easily access and use in case of an emergency.

Fair Finance Agreement

Make sure all policy and billing details are clear and fair to you, and ask what is included in their assisted living community service fee. Also ask to view the residency or rental agreement, and learn about refunds and stipulations of moving in and out.

Resident-Focused Lifestyle Offerings

We all have internal rhythms and personal schedules. That doesn’t change when a person moves into an assisted living community. If your loved one needs a cup of tea at 1 a.m. to fall asleep, they should be able to get one. If they miss a workout class due to a doctor’s appointment, they should be able to access a class later. This is called resident-centered service, and it shows that the community accommodates its residents, not the other way around. Great communities offer flexible meal schedules, on-demand wellness opportunities, and easy-to-obtain transportation.

Positive Reviews

Do your homework and read what others think of the assisted living communities you’re looking at. Online reviews can be a good start. Use these ratings to narrow down prospective communities or read them after a tour to see if the results match your experience.

After you’ve narrowed down your list and are ready to begin your search, what questions should you ask when looking at assisted living facilities? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Is there an entrance fee? If so, how much is it?
  • What’s the monthly fee?
  • What’s covered by the monthly fee? What’s not covered?
  • How much say do residents, family members and your family doctor have in the resident’s care?
  • Do you have a calendar of resident activities?
  • What is their schedule for a typical day?
  • Try the food. How is it?
  • What is the dining arrangement? Do residents eat in a dining room or in their rooms? Is it cafeteria-style or tableside service?
  • Are there set visiting hours? Or can I visit any time?
  • What security safeguards are in place?
  • How much notice is given before discharge?
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
  • What forms of insurance does the community accept?

To learn more about the resident-centered care offered in Life Care Services-managed communities and what it can mean to your family member’s long-term satisfaction, search for a community near you.