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Signs of a good assisted living or nursing home

It’s a difficult realization when you see that mom, dad, or another elderly friend or family member need more care than they can provide themselves. You want to be there for them, but you can only provide so much time and so many resources. You now face the prospect of helping them find a nursing home or assisted living center to provide basic services.

It's natural to feel a little fear as you make this step. Elder neglect and abuse in these types of facilities seems to be ever increasing. Ask yourself these questions while you tour care facilities with your loved one.

What are the residents doing?

It can be difficult to read between the lines to know how well the residents of a nursing home are treated. During your tour, take note of what the residents are doing. It probably isn’t a good sign if the hallways and common areas are barren.

Ask what activities are scheduled that week. Between activities, do you see the residents playing cards? Socializing in community areas? Watching bird cages or foot traffic? These can all be signs that residents are encouraged to stay active and receive help when they need it.

What about staff attitude?

Pay attention to how the staff acts with the residents. Quiet, stressed staff probably don’t enjoy their jobs and won’t make things any easier on residents. A staff that is upbeat with each other is a good indication that they are not overworked or worn down by their positions.

Also take note of how they speak with the residents. Many older people prefer the formality of being addressed as ”Mister” or ”Missus;” calling residents by their first names or pet names like ”grandpa” can be downright insulting.

What is the food like?

If your visit allows, stop by the cafeteria to get a look at what is being served. Maybe have a meal yourself. This is where your loved one will eat meals in the future. A good facility will provide good food for the residents. Subsisting on boring, bland or gray food is a depressing experience. Sense of taste can diminish with age, but that is no excuse for unappetizing meals.

Are there other visitors?

Visitors are a real joy for anyone. As you tour the facility, make a mental note of how many other visitors you see. Frequent family visits not only raise morale, they provide a change to the daily routine for all residents and provide fuel for conversations.

It’s a big choice to put an elderly loved one in the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility. While you look for a good place together, ask yourself these questions. They can help you read between the lines on how well the residents are taken care of, and whether it is a right fit for your loved one.

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