As our parents reach their senior years, their physical and cognitive health will decline more rapidly. In the beginning, it will be possible to care for them at home, but, over time, they will require more constant care than your family can realistically provide. When that time comes for your parents, you will have to start looking for a quality assisted living facility for them. This guide will help you evaluate some of the most important factors in choosing an assisted living facility for the long-term care of your senior loved one.
Be Wary of Abuse and Neglect
One of the biggest concerns for families with senior loved ones is placing their elders in homes where they may be subjected to neglect or abuse. While this is a serious problem in the senior care industry, there's only a small percentage of facilities that are abusing or neglecting their residents. You can usually trust your first impression as you tour a facility. Pay attention to how the staff and residents interact. You should also try to determine if the staff seems impatient and overworked. Other factors to consider is whether residents seem comfortable socializing with each other, the condition of the facility, and whether or not amenities are kept in good condition. If the facility looks well maintained and staff are friendly or outgoing, it's usually safe to assume the residents are receiving a good quality of care.
Look at Vacant Living Spaces
As you tour a facility, take the time to inspect vacant living spaces with the idea that this will be your senior parent's new home. Check the appliances and lights to ensure they're all in good working order. You should also look at the HVAC system and ensure your senior parent can adjust the thermostat in their own personal living space. Be sure to look at safety features, such as railings in the bathroom and cabinets within easy reach.
Ask About Daily Assistance
You're moving your senior parent into this type of facility specifically to ensure they can receive assistance with their daily activities. Depending on their condition, they may need help bathing and dressing, brushing their teeth, taking medication, and preparing their meals. Make sure they will receive the care they need by asking about the level of service the facility's staff will provide. Before signing any paperwork, you should also check to make sure the care your senior parent will receive is detailed in the agreement.
Find Out About Social Activities
Depression and anxiety are common among nursing home residents when they feel isolated or abandoned by family members. Additionally, cognitive decline becomes more advanced in people who don't regularly engage in social activities. These are just a few of the ways that socializing helps keep senior adults healthy and happy. When touring any assisted living facility, look for structured social activities and ask the staff what other social activities they offer to their residents. Each facility will organize different activities, but every assisted living home should offer some supervised social activities.
Take Your Tour at Lunchtime
It's a good idea to schedule your tour for the afternoon when residents will likely be eating lunch. You can use the opportunity to see what types of meals are served to the residents to ensure they're nutritious and good quality foods. Even if the residential rooms have small kitchenettes, the staff should be serving primary meals to residents for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition to observing the lunch hour, ask the staff about the meals and snacks that are available to residents. Nutrition is always important, but it becomes especially vital to seniors who are suffering from declines in their health. Be sure your elder parent will get a broad range of fruits and vegetables to help them stay as healthy as possible.
Evaluate Access to Physical Activity
Exercise is vital in helping seniors maintain their physical health. As you tour assisted living facilities, look for fitness centers and walking paths on the property. You should also ask if there are exercise and yoga classes for the residents. Look for residents sitting or walking outdoors as well. While there should be a fence or another barrier around the exterior of the facility, residents should be allowed to go outside during the day. You'll want to ensure they have access to the outdoors in a safe environment that protects against seniors wandering off of the property.
Inquire About Medical Care
If your senior parent experiences a medical emergency, you will want to make sure they will get immediate and professional medical care. Ask about the staff's training and qualifications. Additionally, you should find out what system they have in place to identify a medical emergency. It can also be helpful to find out how you can upgrade the care given to your senior loved one in the event that their mental or physical health takes a sharper turn for the worse. Some facilities may not be equipped to handle residents with serious health conditions, so it's important to find out about the full range of services each facility offers. You may want to choose a facility that can handle more serious conditions so you can avoid having to move your senior parent to a different facility in the future.
Even after you have settled on the assisted living facility for your elderly parent, you may still face the challenge of convincing them to make this move. It can be helpful to include them in the decision by letting them tour each facility with you. If they feel more involved in making the decision, this can be a positive move for them. They will be someplace of their own choosing, while you rest easy in knowing they're getting the level of professional care they need.