A Friendly Guide to Selecting the Perfect Senior Living Facility

For many of us, there will come a time to begin looking for a home that offers a higher level of safety and security.  For some, help with medication will be the catalyst for moving to a senior living facility.  For others, desire for more socialization and activities will be the catalyst.

Many times, it is not the senior who begins the hunt for assisted living.  To be honest, it is most often the senior’s children that recognize the need for enhanced care and better safety.  Nonetheless, a senior making the move to an assisted living facility should be able to express an opinion about where he or she will be living and socializing.

Senior living facilities are not like the dismal nursing homes we remember from our past.  Now, moving into the right facility can enliven a sense of community and belonging.  Many senior living communities strive to provide varied and plentiful activities, ranging from daytrips to talent shows. It’s typical for a senior to go into a facility feeling lonely and bored.  After a few weeks in the right senior community, that person develop new friendships and interests.

Maybe the most important thing to consider is proximity to family or close friends.  Residents are much more likely to have visitors when the facility is in a convenient location.  And having visitors is very important for the elderly.

Of the several senior communities I have visited, each one has its own style.  The décor is always different, but it is usually bright and cheerful.  When shopping around, take notice of the art and wall colors- do they make you feel good?

Select a few facilities to tour so that you can develop a sense of what elements are preferable.  Most facilities are delighted to show off their community and its unique features.  Often, a tour includes lunch in the dining room, which gives you a chance to see what the kitchen offers on a typical day.  These tours illuminate the positive aspects of moving out of one’s own home and can educate about the different levels of care offered throughout the industry.

One way to determine whether you are in a lively senior living community is to notice the behavior of the residents.  Are they smiling, talking, and interacting with one another?  Is there a lot of movement and a sense of fun in the public areas?  Or are the residents despondent and unengaged?  These observations should tell much about the community and the opportunities to keep active and involved.

The list of features offered by different facilities is continually expanding.  Many places have ice-cream parlors, beauty shops, community garden plots, game rooms, physical therapy rooms equipped with spas and safe exercise machines, green spaces, reading nooks, libraries, pools, and guest suites furnished for resident visitors.  One facility in our area even offers an expansive woodshop with all the tools one could hope for.

If increased healthcare service is the main reason for considering the move, one should look carefully at the level of health care offered, as it varies from facility to facility.  Ask if how and if medications are administered by a registered nurse.  Ask if there is a nurse available 24 hours a day, if that is important.  And maybe most importantly, ask if the facility offers continuous care and memory care.  It can be difficult to be forced to move from facility to facility as medical needs increase.

Please remember, it is okay to look around and you should feel permitted to ask about any aspect of life in a community.  If it’s a good fit, you’ll know.  Increased safety and enhanced healthcare combined with a community of happy and active peers can help a senior truly enjoy his or her life to the fullest.