Senior Housing Checklist: What to Look for in Assisted Living Facilities


Your loved one needs assistance to maintain her sense of independence. Whether recovering from a hospital stay or experiencing progression of a diagnosed disease, you want to assure his or her safety while helping them enjoy as much freedom as possible. Looking down the road, you consider options which will allow them to “age in place” with grace and dignity.

Assisted Living Facilities are designed around the concept that a resident’s opportunity to maintain — or improve — their current quality of life is enhanced with extended services and support staff all under one roof. Many residents enjoy individual apartment or condominium living within the confines of a secure, care-oriented program.

Researching various Assisted Living Programs can be a confusing, emotional and overwhelming task. To help you mitigate the process, we’ve compiled the following checklist for use as a general guide:

1.   Location

Determine whether the facility is located close to your loved one’s support network of family and friends. If not, is there a conveniently-located hotel nearby? How far will they have to travel for preferred medical and pharmacy services? Check city-related data such as neighborhood safety ratings and which local public transportation options are available.

  1. Security Features

Does the facility employ a centrally-monitored security company and what does it offer? Advanced features such as video surveillance and specified access control systems help protect resident safety, while assuring personal and medical care staff members the opportunity to respond quickly and efficiently when needed.

  1. Safety Precautions

Often, progressive aging symptoms include reduced visual acuity, memory loss and balance instability. Check common facility areas for American Disability Act compliance.

Are hand-rails continuous and easy to distinguish against wall design features? Is flooring soft and feasible for walkers and canes? Are visual cues in place to offer guidance for pedestrian walkways, and is lighting consistent throughout?

Identify whether or not staff members undergo background checks and if everyone, staff and residents included, are up-to-date on immunizations. Ask about “missing person” drills and if residents are issued unobtrusive locator bracelet or necklaces.

  1. Medical Services

Clearly identify which medical services are offered on-site. How is the initial medical care plan assessed and who oversees daily medical management? What is the standard operating emergency procedure and how often is it tested? Are nurses or nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, physical therapists and dietitians employed on staff? Determine the ratio of medical support personnel to residents.

  1. Personal Care

Make sure Certified Nursing Aids — CNA’s — are available to assist residents with activities of daily living such as:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Oral Care
  • Feeding
  • Walking
  • Functional Transfers
  1. Household Tasks

What does the facility provide by way of general housekeeping? Is an accountant available to help residents pay their bills and manage their accounts? Are housecleaning and laundry services offered, and do they include changing linens? Inquire about assistance with general shopping and in-house meal preparation. Make sure there are at least as many options available to support your loved one’s sense of freedom and independence as there are to protect her medical health.

  1. Food

The enjoyment of wholesome and appealing food is all-important part of life satisfaction as well as healing. As your loved one ages, they will inevitably lose taste buds and the ability to distinguish between sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty. It is vital that meals with appropriate texture, spiciness and aroma be offered on a regular basis to prevent appetite loss and poor nutrition.

Check into the communal dining experience. Is the seating area clean and attractive? Are three, well-balanced meals prepared per day? How about snacks and beverages? Does the culinary staff honor special dietary needs?

See if you can snag some recent menus and inquire about the feasibility of family members joining an in-house meal while visiting. Ask current residents how they like the food — you’re likely to get impassioned responses one way or the other!

  1. Socialization and Community Involvement

Social interactions and community ties help ward off feelings of isolation and depression that often accompany a significant life shift within the elderly population. Older adults who are socially active enjoy reduced stress and anxiety levels, increased self-esteem and are even more likely to exercise regularly.

Ask about a facility’s planned group activities and outings. See if you can access a recent calendar of events. Consider tossing in a question about opportunities to socialize with any resident who has already weighed in on the food issue.

Your loved one’s increased need for assistance is an excellent opportunity to take stock of supportive ways to protect both her freedom and health for many productive years to come. Assessing critical factors of location, safety, medical and personal care, diet and social involvement presents a well-rounded view within which to consider promising options.

Authors Bio: Kayla Matthews is a lifestyle and productivity writer whose work has been featured on Lifehacker, The Next Web, MakeUseOf and Inc.com. You can read more posts from Kayla on her blog, Productivity Theory.

Kayla Matthews <kaylaematthews@gmail.com>

 

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