Wondering if a senior living community (sometimes known as retirement homes) might be needed for either yourself or an aging loved one is never an easy decision. We understand that; however if it’s a choice either yourself or a care giver feels is important then there are several steps to go through that we’d always recommend to make sure your choice of Senior Living Community is right for everyone.
As beautiful and idyllic as the brochures will make it look, there’s simply no substitute for seeing it for yourself. It almost always takes an in person visit to see behind the glossy magazine images and, whilst we’d hope the community will live up to those photo’s it’s only by visiting there yourself that you can see any potential dusty corners, cracked ceilings or un-swept floors.
It’s not just the community itself either, the old adage location, location, location will never be truer. Does the surrounding area feel safe? How close is it to the local stores? Are they in walking or driving distance? What else is there to do locally? Do either you or your loved one enjoy the theatre or the cinema? Is there one in the area? How far is the hospital or the nearest doctor’s office?
These are all important questions that require answers but you also need to try and get a ‘feel’ for the area. Does is seem quiet and peaceful? Whilst that might be perfect for most, some people might prefer something more lively or vice versa; it’s important everyone involved in the decision is comfortable with the final choice.
Great members of staff are the lifeblood of any senior living community and will be crucial to making it a pleasant and friendly place to live. Whilst you’re taking your tour it’s important that you not only talk to the staff and get to know them a little but that you watch them interacting with other residents. These interactions will be fundamental in telling you about the managements attitude towards its residents and your decision in moving in.
Things to look out for are staff acting respectfully to residents; how do they speak to them, how do they handle them? Do they make eye contact? Do they seem patient?
What you’re looking for is residents being treated as people and not as a revenue stream.
Whilst it’s important you get on with and like the staff it’s absolutely vital you enjoy the company of the other residents. These are the people you’ll be socializing with on a daily basis so take some time to get to know them. Do you have shared interests or hobbies? Getting on with the people you’ll be living with will be vital to your or your loved one’s future comfort and happiness.
Dinnertime (and mealtimes in general) can often be the focal point for the social life of senior living communities so it’s important you like the food. During the tour make time to sit with residents and speak to them about the food and if possible try the food yourself. If it isn’t to your taste it might be a good indication the community isn’t for you.
Don’t just try one meal though, ask to see the menus for the next few weeks or even months if they’re available. Is there much variety? Is it something you think you or your love one will enjoy? Can you order something not on the menu if it’s not to your taste? These are all important questions to find answers to.
There are many different types of senior living communities out there. Some may all be contained in one building over several storey’s whilst other might be clusters of smaller buildings scattered over a large property.
Is it well lit? Does it look like there might be lots of dark corners? How easy is it to navigate and are the paths and walkways well signposted? If the buildings are scattered around a large property is there procedures in place for getting to the dining room if it rains or snows?
It might (or might not) be important at the moment but it’s important to consider how your chosen senior living community might deal with special requirements. Either you or your loved one might be allergic to certain foods or particular cleaning products; how are issues like this dealt with? Is there a specific person onsite that manages resident’s medicines? What about help with dressing and bathing? It might not be nice to think about but even if you or your loved one don’t need help with this now you may do in the future.
Our final piece of advice would have to be not to take a tour alone. Even if you’re looking around for a loved one, take a trusted friend or family member. Touring a senior living community can be emotional and overwhelming and having a second set of eyes and another opinion to rely on will be vital, you won’t be able to take everything in yourself.
Like any big decision in life this is one that will require careful deliberation and shouldn’t be rushed into. After all it’s your or your loved one’s happiness that’s at stake
Mangar Health is a member of the Winncare Group