Each assisted living community is unique unto itself. Many are beautifully appointed, and it is easy to be enamored by the glitz and the glam but there are many other factors to consider before deciding if the community will be a good fit for you or a loved one.
1. Is the group of residents a good match for you or your loved one?
Many assisted living communities have their own niche. Some offer higher levels of care, some have younger more active retirees. It’s important to consider if the mix of residents are a good match.
2. Will this community be able accommodate changing health needs?
It is common for an individual’s health needs to change over time. You will want to consider if the community will be able to meet those needs as they arise. Anticipating these changes may eliminate the need to move again in the future.
3. What does the community look like?
Its important to look past the fancy entry way. Is the building clean? Do you notice any strange smells? Are the grounds cared for? Are there signs of deferred maintenance like worn out furniture or carpeting?
4. How far is the community from other amenities?
It is natural to consider how close a community is to doctors or hospitals but you may also want to think about what is nearby in terms of shopping, community centers, parks, friends and relatives.
5. What activities are offered?
While bingo and puzzles can be fun its likely a person will need more to keep them entertained. Find out what activities are regularly offered within the facility and if they schedule outings to do things in the community at large.
6. How is the food?
A great deal of social life takes place around a good meal. Visit during lunch and sample the food. While there take a look around to see how residents interact with each other and how staff interact with the residents.
7. What safety measures are in place?
Are there call buttons or emergency pendants available. Are there had rails in the hallways? Are walkways wide enough for two people to pass one another with wheelchairs or walkers? How often is staff checking up on residents? What hours is a nurse available?
8. What outdoor spaces are available?
No one wants to be cooped up indoors all day long. Even a simple patio space, park benches or a small pond can make the overall community much more enjoyable and will allow you to get a breath of fresh air when desired.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes if you are visiting multiple communities. Keeping an eye out for these things can help ensure the assisted living community you choose will be a good fit for a long time to come.
Ty Strahl is the areas leading senior adviser. Her job is to help you navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.