When you decide to find a senior living community for an elderly loved one, you want to know that they will be placed in a community where they can thrive and have an excellent quality of life. Touring possible care communities is a vital part of the selection process, and you should do so regardless of whether your loved one will require assisted living, memory care, or independent living.
Why is it necessary for you to personally visit senior living communities? Think about this: If you were to buy a house, you wouldn't base your decision on the images that were posted on the internet or in the brochures, would you? You would want to visit the property and perform a thorough examination to ensure that it’s a pleasant and safe environment that meets your needs and expectations.
When looking for the most suitable community for your loved one, you should follow the same general principle. Since the retirement community selected will be your loved one’s home for many years to come, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that they feel safe and well taken care of.
However, looking for senior living communities on your own can be challenging because there are many intricate details to consider, each of which has the potential to make a substantial impact on your loved one’s quality of life.
If you don’t have much experience touring senior living communities and you're attempting to do so in the Northern Virginia area without professional support, the following are eight useful recommendations for doing so correctly.
1. Know What Type of Community You Need
There are no two senior living communities that are exactly alike. Aside from common differences in size, structure, and services, each community will have a different rhythm and dynamic; the challenge lies in selecting the one that is most suitable for your elderly loved one. Consider, for instance, whether they would do better in a setting that is highly social or one that is more laid-back. Do they like to keep active or participate in a range of outdoor activities? Which of their pursuits do they take the most pleasure in? If you have a long list of communities to choose from, it will be much easier to manage if you have a clear idea of exactly what you're looking for. As a result, you'll be able to select a place where your loved one will feel right at home.
2. Consult an Independent Senior Living Advisor
Before you arrange any tours, it is recommended that you first consult with a professional who specializes in matching seniors with senior living communities. They will evaluate the requirements of your loved one and assist you in narrowing down your options, allowing you to focus exclusively on the communities that are the best match. To ensure that you are as well informed as possible before beginning your tour, advisors can also provide you with helpful guidance on what to keep an eye out for during your visit.
3. Inspect the Conditions of the Community
How does the community appear when viewed from the perspective of its maintenance? The amount of pride that management puts into the community (or a lack thereof) can be inferred from features such as cramped hallways that are overrun with litter, peeling paint, inadequate lighting, and an overall lack of cleanliness. Also, the areas described above are the ones you can see, so, if those areas are in an obvious state of disrepair, try to imagine how bad the situation could be in the areas you can't see.
4. Observe Attitudes and Behaviors of the Staff
When community employees see you, do they make eye contact and give you a friendly smile? Or do you get the impression that they are worn out, stressed out, and overworked? In the second case, it can be a sign that they don't feel like they're being treated fairly or that there aren't enough people working in the community (check the staff-to-resident ratio for a more precise indication). When staff members are content and smiling, they are more likely to treat residents in a caring and positive way, which is exactly what you want for your loved one.
5. Examine the Staff's Relationship and Interaction with Residents
In addition to the point made above, you should watch the staff closely to gauge whether they treat the residents with respect and decency, and to see if the residents openly converse with the staff. You want the staff to be kind, compassionate, and patient as they tend to your elderly loved one's needs. Keep in mind that people have a tendency to act more appropriately when they are aware that someone is watching them, so make an effort to observe without drawing attention to yourself.
6. Ask about Local Hospitals and Medical Services
Do not make the assumption that the senior living community you are touring will have onsite doctors, physical therapists, or other healthcare specialists because individual communities are only permitted to provide specific levels of healthcare services to residents. As a result, you should always ask about the community's credentials and licenses. In the event that the community does not provide medical care on demand twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, or if your loved one’s primary care physician is too far away from the community, inquire as to whether there are physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare services located nearby.
7. Eat a Meal at the Community
You will have the opportunity to assess the taste as well as the nutritional content of the food prepared by the community’s chefs if you visit the common dining hall during mealtime. You will also get a glimpse into something else that is very important, which is how the residents behave and interact while they’re eating. At the tables, are the residents engaging one another in conversation? Do they appear to be happy and welcoming? Do they give the impression that they are enjoying the food? Pay special attention to the atmosphere of the dining hall as a whole to assist you in determining whether the community is the right fit for your loved one.
8. Inquire about Transportation and Day Trips
Even though the community will likely have a diverse selection of entertaining indoor and outdoor activities, going on excursions to nearby shopping centers, theaters, and casinos can be just as enticing for some residents. Find out where the nearby places of interest are and if the community provides transportation to those places.
Should my elderly loved one accompany me on tours of senior living communities?
The answer to this question is contingent on the current state of your loved one's health. Will they be able to visit multiple locations without becoming exhausted? Would their health make it difficult for you to pay attention to the specific factors you need to evaluate in order to make an informed decision?
It is strongly suggested that you travel independently to each of the communities included on the initial long list of options. After you have narrowed down that list to the top 2 or 3, then bring your loved one to visit those remaining communities.
Help with Touring Senior Living Communities in Northern Virginia
When looking into several senior living communities, you can quickly become overwhelmed by the experience, particularly if you aren't familiar with what you should look for and the questions you should ask.
This is why you can rely on Assisted Living Locators of Northern Virginia for assistance with finding the assisted living, memory care, independent living, or other senior living options that best meet your loved one's specific needs and preferences. We will conduct all of the necessary research based on your loved one's needs, provide you with a list of the best communities located in the Northern Virginia area, and accompany you on community tours to ensure that all of your questions and concerns are properly addressed.
For more information or no-cost assistance with independent living, assisted living, memory care, in-home care, or other senior living options in Northern Virginia’s Prince William County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Arlington County, or Alexandria, please call our local elder care experts today at (703) 878-7870 or contact us via e-mail.