Are you faced with the decision to place your elderly loved one in an assisted living facility? Find out what qualities to look for in a great assisted living community.
Many seniors wish to live in their own homes, and many of the families that support them want to care for their loved ones themselves, for as long as possible. However, this can become impossible if the safety and health of the elderly becomes compromised, impairing their quality of life. Choosing the right facility for your loved one can be challenging. It’s important to keep in mind that not all assisted living facilities are created equal so you have to choose carefully.
Knowing which qualities to look for in an assisted living facility can help you make the best and smartest decision for your loved ones.
1. The facility is clean and safe for residents.
This is a non-negotiable quality to look for. The facility should be well-kept and odor-free, and have janitorial staff to keep the property maintained. Staff members should be fastidious when it comes to their grooming and hygiene, and that of the people under their care. The rooms, hallways and doorways should be well-lit and unobstructed to reduce the likelihood of injury. The floor plan should be simple and easy to navigate so residents with physical or cognitive issues can move around freely. Additionally, the ideal facility is not noisy or over stimulating, with quiet areas where residents can spend time with visiting family or friends.
2. The facility is well-staffed with competent and compassionate individuals.
Ideally, the assisted living facility should have a good resident-to-staff ratio to ensure that the staff members are not overworked. When employees are exhausted, it becomes difficult for them to provide the level of care that residents require. Administrators ease this burden by ensuring that there are enough staff members to care for their residents, so that in turn, the residents will have access to kind, compassionate care. The best facilities also create individualized plans for each resident based on the level of assistance they need and adjust this plan regularly as life circumstances dictate. 24/7 access to skilled nursing care is also an important aspect to consider.
3. Residents are respected.
Just because they are living in a community with a lot of other people doesn’t mean that your elderly relative has to sacrifice their dignity. The staff should treat their residents with respect regardless of their physical, emotional or mental condition. They should be supportive, friendly and caring while providing the care required by their residents. Another way that respect is shown is by using the resident’s given names, rather than ubiquitous monikers. They should be patient and provide clear communication of all procedures and answer any questions that you or your elderly might have. Additionally, the staff should respect the resident’s privacy (e.g., knock on doors before entering).
4. Residents can make their own choices.
The best facilities ensure that the residents’ views and wishes are supported and respected. They don’t force residents to wake up or sleep at certain times, and residents have a say on what they can wear or how they eat their meals. There are times when a resident might feel like socializing during a meal; other times, they may prefer to dine in private. A good facility will be flexible enough to accommodate its residents’ wishes.
5. The facility is designed to feel like home.
It can be jarring for elderly citizens to move from a place they have lived all their lives to one they are unaccustomed to. For some, it can even be a traumatic experience. Great assisted living facilities make every effort to provide a comfortable, homelike environment for its residents. They allow residents to bring some pieces of their own, such as portraits and other knick-knacks, to decorate their rooms. The best assisted living facilities have pleasing common areas where its residents can spend time comfortably and enjoy themselves, such as a library, game room and dining area.
6. They are centrally located.
Some facilities may provide food and medication on-site, while others don’t, especially those that focus on independent living. If the facility you are considering for your loved one is of the latter category, you might want to ensure that it is close to restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals, and that those places are easy to get to.
7. Healthy, appetizing food is served.
The food served should be nutritious, well-balanced, freshly prepared and customized for specialized diets. The facility should also be able to accommodate not just the residents’ health problems, but also their religious and ethical needs (e.g., if they are vegan, vegetarian, etc.). Meals should be served in a pleasant setting that provides opportunity for social interaction. In addition, the staff should monitor how their residents are eating and notify physicians and family members if a resident is eating poorly.
8. Family and friends are welcome to visit any time.
The presence of family and friends play a vital role in the resident’s well-being, so the facility should not only welcome scheduled visits, but also encourage and invite them to spur-of-the-moment visits at any time – at reasonable hours, of course. This also shows that the facility has nothing to hide.
9. There are recreational activities in abundance for residents.
The best assisted living communities offer a variety of opportunities for their residents to pursue their interests, whether it’s gardening, knitting, arts and crafts, or even exercising, dance classes, and playing games. Music, cultural events, entertainment and faith-based services are also some things that can feed the soul. Some facilities encourage interaction with people from outside, such as community groups, like the Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts that visit the elderly, or others that bring pets, or those that play live music.
10. The facility offers various amenities that contribute to the residents’ well-being.
Look for assisted living communities that offer extras such as a hair salon or barber shop, a library, internet and computer access, or health and wellness centers staffed with licensed personal trainers. Residents may feel better when they feel good about their appearance, or have the opportunity to take charge of their well-being, or have the ability to keep in touch with their loved ones and stay up-to-date on current events.