Making the choice that an aging parent is ready for a senior living facility is not easy. Finding the right place to call their new home can be even harder.
When going through the process of finding a facility that’s the right fit for a parent or other relative, it’s important to be thorough and ask all the right questions. Here are some topics suggested by experts in the field.
1. Quality of life
It’s important not to be swayed by what a facility looks like on the outside, but to see how it functions on the inside. A large percentage of children look at the aesthetics and beauty of the community instead of taking into consideration what’s best for their parents.
Instead, prospective clients should focus on whether the quality of life matches their loved one’s current standards. Check out the food and the amenities that are available.
Ask if there’s a washing machine on the floor. Is laundry and cleaning [done] once a week? You’re putting your parent in a venue where they may not be able to do the normal basic things they do at home.
Negligence is a huge problem in the senior living industry. That’s why it’s crucial to find out the backgrounds of the nurses and staff who work there and to discuss the facility with others already living there. Talk to residents who live there and need the same level of care. You’re going to hear the truth from the people who know what’s happening.
Ask specific questions about care — including about what happens in case of an emergency — and meet with the heads of the nursing departments. Inquire about the nurse/caretaker-to-resident ratio, the ability to dispense drugs and monitor vital signs, and activities available to stimulate body and mind.
Websites for assisted-living facilities list the costs, but what about if seniors need more care down the line? What if a resident becomes sick and needs more help? It’s imperative to figure out what costs will go up in case further assistance is necessary. You don’t want to overspend. Ask, “What can I expect in the future in terms of expenses?”
4. Making introductions
When older adults go into assisted-living facilities, they may be scared that they’ll feel isolated because they don’t fit in. To prevent this, visitors should ask if their parents can talk to current residents. It’s always important to meet people so they can relate to one person.
It may not sound like a deal breaker, but meals matter. Many assisted-living facilities offer a set menu every day. If people are spending a lot of money on a facility, they should know what they’re paying for.
Visitors should ask about the chef — is he a rookie or someone with reputable restaurant experience.
Also, if parents have special food requirements inquire about how accommodating the facility is with its menus. Ask, “Is there a set menu or can you order off a menu?” A lot of places have a limited menu, but that won’t work for someone who has dietary constraints.
It’s up to the children and the concerned family members to ask these questions because seniors are often hesitant to go into facilities. Very few elderly people will wake up and say, “I’m ready to go to senior living”. It has to be driven by the children because they’re worried about the parents.
There are many reasons behind such worry — even beyond immediate health worries, which can be costly. More than 43 percent of adults older than 60 said they have experienced feelings of loneliness, and a report by the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project revealed that older adults who are socially isolated are at higher risk for mental and physical health problems.
A facility can be a great fit. The ability to socialize is rejuvenating, to say the least. There are different outings and movie screenings. It’s a positive way to live versus living in your own home, which is much more isolating.