When you are trying to find an assisted living community for yourself or a loved one, you need to do your homework to find at least three candidates that meet all the needs of the future resident. After you have narrowed your search down to those facilities, you should visit each one with the person who will be living there. Know what you want to look for before you visit the first center, so you will get all the information you need from every facility.
It is easy to get overwhelmed in the process of finding the right assisted living community. To help you in this quest, use this checklist when visiting assisted living facilities.
- First impressions count. Pay close attention to your initial thoughts and feelings about the assisted living center as you approach and enter. Your instincts often pick up on “micro-symptoms” that can indicate a problem, even before you notice the issue itself.
- Try to see down the road. Visualize yourself or your loved one actually living at the assisted living community. Ask yourself if you would be happy there. Pay attention to whether you feel comfortable or anxious. Evaluate whether the staff and other residents are friendly and inviting. Does this facility have skilled nursing on site? If the resident’s health worsens, would they have to move?
- Use your Nose. When you walk through the building, pay attention to the smells. You should not be able to detect any unpleasant odors. Strong “cover-up” scents are also a potential warning that the place likely has cleanliness issues.
- Look for dirt, dust, and grime in the obvious locations and places, like the baseboards and windows. Cleanliness counts in an assisted living facility.
- The staff in action. Watch the staff when they are interacting with the residents. Look at the body language of both the staff and residents. Is the staff courteous and warm? Are the residents resentful or fearful? Keep looking until you find an assisted living facility where both the residents and the staff are happy, warm and friendly.
- The proof is in the pudding. Good food is one of the highlights for many people who reside in assisted living. Visit during mealtime and arrange to eat a meal there. Find out if the meals are both nutritious and tasty. Get a copy of the monthly menus to check for variety. Find out the center’s policy, when a resident cannot come to the dining room.
- Explore the both outdoor areas and the indoor facilities. Make sure that your loved one would be safe when enjoying some fresh air outside.
- The current residents. You can find out valuable information from the people who already live at the center. Without making them feel uncomfortable, notice whether the residents are well-groomed and wearing clean clothes. Sit and visit with some residents. Let them know you are considering this community for yourself or a loved one. Ask for their advice. Find out if they have to wait a long time for personal care or other services. If so, the facility is likely under-staffed.
- Check the price. Assisted living isn’t cheap, but don’t let price drive the decision. If you go to the cheapest place, you can expect to get a matching level of care. Instead, consider the price and then consider how you’ll pay for assisted living. Medicaid isn’t always available for assisted living, but may be if health worsens and your loved one is in a nursing home. Perhaps the Veterans Administration offers a benefit you can use, or perhaps you have long-term care insurance. See our Elder Law page for a longer overview. https://www.galliganmanning.com/practice-areas/elder-law/
In the end, this is an important decision and you should do your homework to find the right assisted living for your or your loved one.
A Place for Mom. “Tips for Touring Assisted Living Communities.” (accessed August 7, 2019) https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice/articles/tips-for-touring-assisted-living