7 Things to Consider in Assisted Living

by Tracy Enright

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Getting older usually means changing needs, from where you live to the foods you eat and the activities you enjoy. Recognizing that you or someone you love needs to move into a care community can be startling, and the move may be a major—though sometimes welcome—life change. However, there are so many choices that it can be confusing. How can you be sure you’re choosing the right place for you or your loved one?

1. Location

It’s important to stay connected at any age. Is the community you’re considering located where friends and family can get to easily? Are there good transportation links and access to local amenities? Does the larger community—town or city—cater to your interests?

2. Accommodation

You may be spending more time inside than you did in earlier years, so you’ll want to be comfortable. Will you have a private room? Will you be able to use your own furniture or decorate with your own treasures and taste? Is there somewhere secure to store your valuables? Will they be insured? Is any special equipment you might need available? Will you have access to a phone and what are the charges? Can family and friends visit at any time, and will it be in your room or a designated meeting room? Are there any outside areas or gardens that you can use? Make sure you have a proper tour to get a real feel for the place.

3. Staff

One of the primary reasons for moving into a residential home is for the extra care you might need, so it’s important to have well-trained, friendly staff. There should also be enough staff to effectively care for not just you, but all the residents. When you visit for a tour, take some time to ask current residents what they think of the staff.

4. Food

Your dietary choices will be more limited once you take up residence, so make sure the food is tasty and healthful, you have as much choice as possible, and any special dietary requirements can be met. Check to see if you’ll be able to have hot drinks when you want them and whether meal times are flexible.

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Are visitor times flexible? Does the community organize social events or trips? Can you get transportation to cultural activities that are important to you, or to the local library? Will you be able to continue any hobbies you might have? If your religion is important to to you, are there services in the building or offered nearby?

6. Terms and Conditions

Always check any contract before you sign it and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You need to know exactly what’s covered under the basic charges, and what costs extra. Also inquire about the notice period for any changes, including charge increases.

• Other Stuff

Your situation and preferences make you unique, so it’s important to make the right choice for you. It’s worth asking if you can have a trial stay. While visiting, whether for a tour or longer, see if you can meet other residents; they’ll give you a good indication of what it’s really like to live there. Visiting also gives you a chance to get a sense of the people living there, and whether you’ll have things in common.

Moving into an assisited living situation can be a giant step, and there may be some aspects you have no control over, but taking a little time and effort in advance will give you a greater chance of being happy—and maybe even discovering unexpected joys—in your new home. Life offers new opportunities every day, so position yourself to take best advantage of them.