Shopping for an assisted living facility can’t be that much fun because, for many of us, it is the last option for caring for our aging parents. But it is a necessary evil. Because we not only want our parents to be safe, we want them to be well taken care of, mentally stimulated, and socially active. So, finding the perfect community is the only option for this very important transition.
Consider this contribution a general introduction to what’s ahead for you. My first suggestion is that you begin searching for facilities in your preferred zip code. Hopefully, you'll find a place near you so that you have quick access to your loved one. This way you can stop by almost anytime you want without going too far away from home. Should you need to visit for milestone moments or to take over a favorite snack, getting there will be a breeze.
Here's one major suggestion for you, “Take your parent with you when you begin to visit the facilities.” For they will be the ones living there, so you'll want their approval--if you want them to stay there and be happy.
Once you find a list of places (within 15 to 20 minutes of your home), you may do more thorough research like checking with the Better Business Bureau, Heathcare.gov and other certifying and licensing agencies. Secondly, you want to check the relationships i.e., the people who are connected to the home. For example, making a visit just to observe how the staff interact with the clients, taking time to causally interview both staff members and clients. Do both seem happy? Do the staff members seem to love their work? Interview as many as you can, asking questions about why they chose an assisted living facility as a place to work. By asking this question, you are looking for responses like: “I just love elders they are so much fun to work with; and I learn so much from them.” Probe as much as possible to make sure that you are not talking to someone who has been coached on what to say. Look for sincerity. Ask your mom/dad what they think about everything—the staff interviews, the way the place looks, and/or the amenities, etc.
You want to make sure that the facility is well staffed and that there are physicians that make weekly rounds and on-call visits. You also want there to be a variety of mentally and physically stimulating activities for residents. Finally, check for signs that the place is well kept—clean. As soon as you walk into the place be aware of what you smell. This is a good indication of how clean it is. You might want to take along a friend or relative who is an inspector of what is truly clean. This way nothing gets past you. Finally, I cannot over-emphasize the need to have your loved one be a full participant in the process, assuming they are interested. And even if they seem against the whole idea, insist that they accompany you and watch to see how they respond to the place, people, and amenities. You’ll be able to see sparks of interest even if it is reluctant. Or you'll notice their utter disapproval. In either case, take notice and ask for their opinion. Although, I'm sure when there is disapproval, you will not have to ask. The key here is keeping your loved one involved, allowing them to help with decision-making.