Many adults are living well into their elder years. As your minds and bodies mature into your 60s, 70s and 80s, it’s not always possible or safe for you to stay in your life-long home. Many people are able to be independent well into their elder years and only need minimal assistance with their daily living needs. Senior communities such as Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. provide adult day care services as well as elder care services to people who can still be independent.
Before You Arrange Visits
Before you even arrange to tour a facility, it is important to know what you or your loved one wants from their living coordinators. You may think you know what you or your loved one finds important for quality of living, but oftentimes that changes. You’ll want to ask a few simple questions of yourself before visiting facilities.
Things Ask Before Visiting Senior Assisted Living Communities
- Where. How important is it to be close to your children and grandchildren? Would you like to be close to your friends so they can visit regularly? Are you still independent enough that you want to be near shopping or restaurants or entertainment venues? Is being close to a hospital, pharmacy or your doctors important to you?
- Features. Are you looking for a geriatric daycare for a loved one or an elder independent living facility for you? Can you still cook for yourself or would you rather a facility that provides your meals? Do you want an extra bedroom to house out-of-town guests? Will the facility allow overnight guests like grandchildren, friends or siblings? What activities are available for you to participate in either alone or in a group?
- Safety. Have you had health issues that need regular monitoring? Do you need safety equipment like shower bars or a medical alert button in the apartment? Are you comfortable with open-access or would you prefer managed access to the building?
- Cost. How much can you reasonably afford? Are you on a fixed income? How much money do you want left for taking trips, entertainment or buying gifts?
If you are searching for a new home for a loved one, it is vital that you discuss these things with them. If you are searching for yourself, it is important to be honest about your present needs and your potential future needs.
Once you have your list, research the facilities in your area. Which ones match what you want? Are there reviews online? Reading the reviews—good and bad—can help you determine which ones you want to arrange a visit to and which ones you want to avoid. Treat this research as if you were buying a house, including looking at the neighborhood’s crime and safety rate.
Visiting the Home
There are so many things to consider once you start visiting the facilities. While the venue may look good on paper, sometimes the visit tells more than the company is willing to admit. It is helpful to take a checklist of things to consider at each facility. You should also take the family member who will be moving, or if you are the person moving, take a trusted friend or family member to help you evaluate each facility.
*Use our checklist here:
Things to Look For When Touring Senior Assisted Living Communities
- ____ Staff. When you entered the facility, was the staff you encountered friendly? How did they interact with the residents? What kind of background check is performed on staff?
- ____ Cleanliness. Were the common areas tidy? Were the windows, walls and corners clean? Does the furniture have stains? Were residents wearing clean clothes?
- ____ Smell. Does the facility have an unpleasant smell to it? Is the smell everywhere or just in one location? (Hint: one location could be a temporary issue that needs attention rather than a constant issue such as cleanliness.)
- ____ Activities. Were residents participating in the activities or did they seem bored? Was a schedule of activities posted? Are all activities within the facility or do they take residents into the community?
- ____ Safety. Is there a call button with easy access in the apartment (or more than one)? What kind of security does the facility have (i.e., locked doors, manned entrance desk)? Can the apartment be upgraded with safety features such as shower bars if they become necessary in the future?
- ____ Openness. Were you allowed to tour part of the facility on your own? Were you allowed to talk to residents about the facility without staff around? Were you allowed to talk to staff without the tour guide being present?
Don’t forget to ask for a sample contract and Resident Bill of Rights to review. This contract should include any rules and regulations for residents as well as the schedule of fees and explanation of billing.
After the Visit
After the visit, it is important to discuss the things you liked about each facility. Review the contract and other paperwork from each facility. Compare the fees and other contract details. Once you have the list narrowed further, go for a surprise visit at a different time of day. Did anything change? Were staff less friendly and welcoming of your visit? Are residents still engaged at the different time? Can you eat a meal there? Of course, you should be prepared to pay for the meal. Ask any follow-up questions that came up after the first visit. As always, trust your instincts when making a decision.
Of course these lists are not all-inclusive. You or your loved one may have other priorities that can be added to the list based on wants or needs. However, you now have a starting point to begin your search for a senior community that suits everyone’s needs.
If you are looking for a Kalamazoo P.A.C.E. program for your loved one or nursing homes Battle Creek residents recommend, contact Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. to arrange a tour and see what their facilities offer. They provide adult day care services as well as elder care services for those who simply need extra help while living at home.