You have a stack of brochures from various assisted living facilities telling you why they are good for you. They all look nice, but how do you decide which one is best for you? You'll need to visit each one that interests you with a list of questions to ask and things to look for. Here are some questions to help you get started on your quest for the best facility in which to spend your retirement years.
How is the general upkeep of the facility?
Whether you take a guided tour or walk through the facility yourself, keep an eye out for maintenance issues. How clean are the hallways and common areas? Are safety railings and handholds on the walls loose or secure? Are the plants inside healthy? How nice does the outdoor landscaping look? Maintenance issues in a facility can affect your health and safety, as well as your mood, if you have to look at dead plants, flaking paint on the walls or trash left on tables in the dining area between meals.
How do the residents and staff react to scheduled activities?
Try to be at the facility during an activity and observe the staff and attendees. Is it well attended and do the residents appear to be enjoying the activity? Are the staff actively engaged with the residents or just observing? These activities are to provide you some variety in your day, so they should be something to look forward to. A well attended activity where staff and residents are socializing together can be a high point. Get a list of the scheduled activities for the month to see which of your interests they cover.
How pleasant, and safe, are the outdoor areas?
Are these areas easy to get to from inside of the facility? Do they provide a comfortable and scenic place in which to relax and read or write? How safe do you feel in the outdoor areas? If you need help quickly, how do you contact the staff? The outdoor spaces should be a refuge for you to get away from your room or common areas for awhile. It should also be a space where you feel proud to bring guests to sit and visit.
How pleasant is the dining experience?
Arrange to eat one meal while visiting each facility. How are the residents served their food? How is seating handled? Does the presentation of the food make you look forward to meal times? How are special food requests handled if you want a little something different for that meal? Can you have visitors join you at meal times? Food will be important to you during your stay at the facility so it does need to be nutritious and attractive for it to be a special part of your day.
How do the residents like it at the facility?
It's important to spend time talking with some of the residents to get their opinion of the facility. Talk with a broad cross section of people. Look for people who are ambulatory, active and independent as well as those who need a higher level of nursing care. Get their impression of all of the areas you've already observed and how they feel treated by the staff. Talking with the residents, you'll learn about some of the concerns they have about living there, as well as the features they particularly like.
As you tour the facilities (such as Harbor View Home) and check out these areas, you'll have a lot more questions. Sit down with the administration after your visit and discuss what you discovered. You'll get a feeling for how the administration sees its residents and what effort they put in to making this an enjoyable experience for all of the people there.