Moving into an assisted living community is a big life change for seniors. It comes with many benefits, including greater convenience, safety, and access to care. The key is choosing a senior home that offers the things you need within your budget.
Many of today’s assisted living facilities have adopted modern amenities and décor styles. They often have websites, which can be a good place to gather information. You can get an overview of what they have to offer along with basic details like location and contact information.
While this is a starting point, it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when choosing your assisted living home.
Many things can affect your experience in a senior community. Things like how many residents live there, average age, amenities, and the level of care provided influence what life is like for residents.
Once you find an assisted living community that you are interested in, the next step should be asking some direct questions. The following list will help you get started.
How Are New Residents Welcomed at the Senior Community?
Assisted living communities should be committed to creating a positive, comfortable environment for residents. That should start from day one.
Find out how the facility handles welcoming new residents. Do they have a process for introducing staff? Do they offer support for adjusting to the new setting? What steps do they take to understand the needs of a new resident? Is additional staff time allotted to new residents to help them get settled in?
This is important for your first days in the assisted living community but can also indicate how residents are treated overall. A facility that truly cares about the seniors who live there will provide support as soon as they arrive.
How Many Residents Live There and How Old Are They?
Some seniors prefer a smaller group home setting while others may appreciate having a larger community to meet new people. Find out how many residents live at the facility. You should also ask about the average age group.
Find out what the ratio of staff to residents is to ensure that you will have access to assistance if you need it. Too few staff could indicate that you will have to wait a long time if you need something.
Most assisted living communities have approximately one staff member per six to eight residents during the day. The ratio may be closer to one staff member for around 15 residents at night.
You can also ask what the average response time is when a resident requests assistance. A reasonable wait time during the day is around 10 minutes. That will likely be a little longer after bedtime.
How Are Staff Trained and What Skills Do They Have?
Find out how assisted living staff are trained and what skills they possess. Well-educated staff with certifications will give residents the best experience. They will be able to react quickly to situations and provide better care overall.
You should also ask about standards and compliance. Learn more about employee orientation practices and company philosophy. You should also find out how employees are evaluated and how often. This information will help paint a picture of the standard of care provided at the facility.
You should also verify whether staff members are available 24 hours a day and if medical professionals like trained nurses are there.
What Amenities Are Available On-Site?
One of the benefits of living in a senior community is the convenience. Find out what amenities are available on-site. Some may offer things like dining, barber or salon services, podiatry, and more.
The best amenities will depend on your needs and expectations. If there is something you are looking for, ask. If it is not available in the community, you can also inquire about transportation. Some facilities provide transport for medical services and other appointments or to visit local businesses.
Does the Community Host Activities and Events?
A great assisted living community fosters a sense of togetherness among residents and staff. That effort should include activities and events.
Ask about the community’s upcoming events calendar. Do they host holiday gatherings and parties for special occasions? Do they do anything in between, like group workouts, craft sessions, or classes? What about movie nights or musical performances?
See if there is anything that might interest you. Events and activities are great for mental health and they encourage socialization, which can prevent depression and isolation among seniors.
What Is the Meal Service Like?
Your assisted living accommodations will likely include a meal plan. Find out what is included and what kinds of items are typically on the menu. You should look for facilities that offer nutritious, home-cooked meals that are good for you and satisfying.
Most meal plans will include three meals per day, but some also provide snacks.
You should discuss dietary needs with the facility before moving in. If you have an allergy or medical condition that affects what you can eat, make sure they can accommodate it. Most facilities will provide special menus for people with dietary limitations.
Do Residents and Their Families Have a Say?
You and your loved ones should have a say in the care you receive. Find out what voice residents have and what role they and their families play in their care.
Does the facility have a way to share comments or concerns? Are there town hall meetings or a resident council? Do you have recourse if something is wrong or a way to make suggestions?
Also, find out how staff will communicate with your family. This is especially important in case of a medical emergency but should go beyond that. Do they allow visits and if so, what are visiting hours? Are visitors required to contact the facility ahead of time?
What are the points of contact for family members? Who can they call if they have questions about you or your care?
You should also ask about COVID-19 rules. Even if they are not in effect now, they may be reinstated in the future. Your family should know how they can communicate with you if they have to social distance.
What Safety and Security Measures are in Place?
Safety and security should be a top priority for any assisted living community. Find out what measures are in place to protect residents.
Common safety equipment includes railings, non-slip bathtub mats, non-skid step treads, shower chairs, and little to no tripping hazards. Many also include high-profile toilets and levers instead of doorknobs.
As far as security, the facility should have a camera system to monitor entry points and other key areas. Fire alarms are also a requirement as well as an escape plan in case of an incident. Facilities often have areas that are locked and can only be opened by staff to keep residents with dementia safe from wandering.
Is Medication Management Offered?
Older adults tend to take more medications compared to younger people. More pills mean more potential for error. This is even more likely when someone has cognitive decline or other health conditions that interfere with their ability to live independently.
Assisted living communities usually offer medication management. This ensures that residents take the correct dose on schedule. It prevents a potential overdose or missed medication that could lead to worsening health problems.
What Levels of Care Are Provided at the Facility?
Your healthcare needs may change as you age. You may need more support or develop a condition that requires specialized attention, like Alzheimer’s disease.
Can the assisted living community accommodate you as your needs change? Do they offer higher levels of care?
It can be difficult to move an elderly person from one home to another without causing stress or potential harm. Being able to stay at the same location can make these changes easier to manage.
If you want to learn more about moving into assisted living, let us know. Visit Vista Living Senior Care to discuss your needs or schedule a tour at one of our Arizona senior communities.