What to look for in an assisted living community


assisted living community

Caring for aging loved ones is a part of life. It is also, oftentimes, a challenging and daunting task. There’s also a good chance that the time will come when you – as a son or daughter – will have to move a parent (or parents) into an assisted living community.

When Mom and/or Dad can no longer live independently, the best decision you – as a loving child – can make, is to get them the help they need and allow them to comfortably transition to the next phase of their life. The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem or postpone the inevitable. Your loved ones deserve the best, and when looking for an assisted living community for them, take the lead in ensuring that’s exactly what they get.

Assisted Living at Lourdes Noreen McKeen in West Palm Beach offers residents a lifestyle of ease, comfort and security. Our staff understands that every person’s situation is different and unique, and we have been serving seniors in West Palm Beach since 1960.

Yes, finding the right spot for Mom and Dad can be difficult, and the process can be overwhelming. After all, this is likely the first time you’ve been tasked with such a responsibility. There are so many options. What do you need to know? What should you look for? Where will they get the best care? These questions – and hundreds of others – are racing through your mind, but here are a few tips and suggestions that will help provide answers.

RESEARCH

The obvious first step is deciding the area in which your loved one(s) will live. Factor in proximity to relatives, doctors’ offices, etc.; and also consider climate and proximity to activities they enjoy (if they are able to leave the facility).

Once you select a general location, go online and look for assisted living communities in that area. It’s also a good idea to ask around for feedback. You’d be surprised how many people in your network have dealt with this process as well. Word of mouth is a very valuable tool!

TAKE PRODUCTIVE VISITS 

Once you compile a list of assisted living communities to visit, call and schedule appointments to do so (bring your loved one as well). Be sure you ask if the facility is currently accepting new residents, or if there is a waiting list.

While on your visit, be thorough in your questioning and observant during the tour. Also, while driving to the various facilities, pay attention to the surrounding neighborhoods. Do they appear safe?

Once you get to the assisted living community, look to see if the grounds are well-kept and manicured. Is the building clean – interior and exterior?

When meeting with the community staff, are they friendly, knowledgeable and responsive? Are they taking the time to carefully address and answer all of your questions? During your tour, is he/she interacting and engaging with your loved one(s) and with other residents and staff who you meet along the way?

Are the residents’ rooms clean and “cheery”? Will your loved one have a private room or share one with another resident? Are there multiple floorplans? Can residents decorate their own rooms or are there restrictions? Ask the about the visitation policy as well.

Are rooms, common areas, hallways, lobbies, etc. safe and easy to navigate? Keep in mind that your loved one may eventually require a walker or wheelchair… is the facility easily accessible for those using that type of equipment? Are the dining areas clean? What are the hours for dining? Can meals be delivered to the residents’ rooms if necessary? Can meals be “customized” to accommodate specific dietary or religious needs?  Ask to see the actual menu for that day, versus sample menu’s provided by marketing.

What type of transportation is offered, and is there a cost? Is there anybody at the facility who will be responsible for scheduling residents’ doctor’s appointments and being sure they are attended? Who keeps track of any medications that residents require and how are they administered?

Be sure to ask what services and amenities are included in the monthly service fee and the pricing for additional levels of care should the need arise. Levels of care can vary significantly from one community to another with regards to pricing and what is included. For example, some communities may include medication management as a separate charge and other communities may include this service in a level of care. It is important to understand all charges that may apply and how these charges are determined.

Assisted living communities can have standard licenses, extended care licenses and limited service licenses. It is important to know what license the community you are considering has so that you understand what your options are should you or your loved one need additional services in the future.

At Lourdes Noreen McKeen, we are a full-service community offering independent, assisted living, skilled nursing and short-term rehabilitation services. In addition, we have both an onsite Home Health Medicare and Private Care Agency available to our residents.

Lastly, be sure to inquire about the social experience at each assisted living community you visit. What type of events and amenities are offered? Is there a social calendar? If so, when and where is it posted, or how can residents access it?

MAKE YOUR DECISION

While scheduled tours are a must, you can also expect that you will get an assisted living community’s best “pitch” while you are there. So, while you should put great confidence in your experience, it’s also wise to drop in unexpectedly as well…to see what life is like at the facility when everybody is not on their “best behavior.”

Also, do web searches for the facilities you visit and look for recent reviews. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Health and Human Sciences for more information about any assisted living community you are considering.

Finding the best new home for your loved one is not easy, but is extremely important. You (and your loved one) need to be comfortable with the facility and staff, and hopefully these suggestions will help you make the right decision.

Senior Living

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