Where you live plays an important role in your personal identity. Susan Clayton, an environmental psychologist who guides student research at the College of Wooster in Ohio, agrees. She notes that while it’s not true for everyone, home is how we identify ourselves.
That partly explains why we decorate and spruce up our home and gardens. These functions serve as both self-expression and a show of pride to the outside world.
When Where You Call Home is Assisted Living
This is all good information to know and consider as you are helping a senior family member search for an assisted living community. Remember, the home where your loved one currently resides may have been home for decades. It’s instilled with memories – in many cases a lifetime of them.
So, how does one begin searching for an assisted living community that your loved one will be proud to call home?
For many older adults, the answer lies in the word “community”.
Searching for a Senior Living Community
Here are a few tips to consider in your search.
A Sense of Community
There’s a long list of criteria you should use when searching for a good place for your loved one to call home. You can and should begin your search with checklist in hand, matching your options against the list as you search.
But knowing the fundamental basis for everything that defines an assisted living community will be far more helpful to you as you narrow your choices.
The determining factor of what makes an assisted living community a comfortable fit for your loved one is a sense of community. When the people who work there, as well as the people who live there, feel a strong sense of community, everything else can fall into place the way you need it to.
Ask About Staff Turnover
One sure-fire way to make a place not feel like home is to have a constantly-changing carousel of caregivers. If staff members are unhappy with their jobs, something may be amiss and chances are there’s not a very strong sense of community present.
That’s why making multiple visits before making a final decision is an important part of your search. Talk to staff, residents, and families and you will probably be able to tell a lot about the culture of the community.
Learn More About Staff
While we’re on the subject of staff, the staff-to-resident ratio is crucial, too. When there isn’t enough staff to help things run smoothly, it’s pretty difficult to maintain a good, strong community feeling. Overworked staff members are usually unhappy. When they’re unhappy, they probably won’t make good caregivers.
Ask What Kind of Staff They Have
Assisted living communities aren’t required to have a nurse on duty 24/7 in many states. The ones that do have a nursing team will stand out. It’s a nice benefit, and speaks to the commitment of the community to your loved one’s health. Ask what staff members are present during non-business hours, as well as during the daytime.
Sample Being Part of the Community Yourself
Eating a meal or two with residents can open up doors to conversations that will shed light on the sense of community. Ask about attending a lunch or dinner with residents so both you and your loved one can really get to the heart of the place: seniors who live there already.
Other Questions to Ask on Your Senior Living Search
Of course, there’s the business side of things, you should also ask about. Important questions to have answered include:
- forms of payment the community accepts
- whether they have plans in place to allow your loved one to age in place
- what licenses they have
- what activities they offer
- whether they provide transportation to medical appointments
- whether pets are allowed
- whether there’s a waiting list
Visit a Five Star Senior Living Community Near You
We invite you to visit a Five Star Senior Living community near you. You’ll no doubt recognize the strong sense of community and caregiver support our residents enjoy every day when your tour.
Plan to stay for lunch or dinner when you visit so you and your senior loved one can enjoy the Five Star Signature Dining Experience firsthand!