Many of us have made the transition from living at home to life in an assisted living.   Many of us are looking at helping a relative or friend begin to look at assisted living.

Here are 10 tips to consider:

  1. NEVER make an appointment to tour an assisted living…….if you show up, and there is “no one to tour your” or “we only give tours on Wednesday”…run!  ALL Assisted living facilities should have a person who can give you even a basic tour….from the maintenance guy to a caregiver.
  2. DO show up around a meal period……..I recommend around 10:30 in the morning, so you see what activities are happening and how many residents are engaged in activities.    Depending on the time you spend, you should be able observe lunch.  This is an excellent time to see the residents, how they interact, how the food looks.  Meals are a BIG part of life in an assisted living.
  3. DON’T show up in “off hours”…….in the evening, before 8am, etc.    Residents are usually tired, and the staff is busy assisting in bed time routines, or getting people ready for the day.
  4.  DO stay for a meal.  Ask to be seated with residents, NOT the marketing director!   Seniors will rarely tell you how they feel, but they will certainly tell you what they THINK!
  5.  Observe the staff during your tour……are they engaged with the residents?  Are they smiling?  Do they speak to YOU as you tour?
  6. Smell, smell, smell…………..certainly there can be times where there is an issue (especially in an Alzheimer’s building or nursing facility).  The ONLY thing you should smell is “clean”….if there is a heavy cover-up of fragrance, I would wonder why.  If you smell warm cookies, the residents should be baking them!
  7. Ask to bring your loved one back for a tour.  Include an appropriate activity and a meal.
  8. NEVER let anyone pressure you with statements like “We only have one room left”, “We never have studios become available”, “We have an enormous waiting list.”  While all of these things may be true, moving to an assisted living is a big decision.  Never rush.
  9. Trust your instincts!  If it “feels” good, and there is a good vibe to the building, then that’s probably true!   Same in the reverse……if walking up to the building, the grounds are unkempt or there are cigarette butts on the ground (or even worse, staff outside smoking!)……that should tell you something.   First impressions carry weight!
  10. If you think you or a relative may need an assisted living in the future, look NOW.   Don’t wait until there is an emergency or a crisis.   When you are relaxed and comfortable, you can freely look and observe and decide what community is best for you!  There are many lovely Assisted Livings out there…take the time to find what’s best for you!