Guide to choosing an assisted living residence

Published by The Star-Ledger
Written by Fern Marder on 12/21/2014
An assisted living residence is a good option for seniors who need help with some aspects of daily living, such as cooking meals, taking medication, cleaning the house and traveling to appointments. The community also provides a secure environment with emergency call systems in place. When in need of more assistance than family, friends and in-home assistance can provide, individuals should consider moving to an assisted living residence.

There are ten qualities you should keep in mind while visiting assisted living residences:
  1. Contentment - When visiting an assisted living community, speak to the people who live there and find out how they feel about the home. Do you see people socializing and laughing? Are the residents participating in activities and clubs? Do they like the environment and the food? Is the home located near your family and friends?
  2. Homelike - The assisted living residence is clean, comfortable and nicely decorated, with plants and artwork. the dining room uses real dishes and silverware - no paper and plastic. There are areas where small groups can gather and enjoy activities together or watch TV.
  3. Autonomy - The residents should be treated with respect and dignity. They have the freedom to do whatever they can for themselves. Their choices and wishes are encouraged and respected.
  4. Amenities - The assisted living community has a health and wellness center where you can exercise and learn about wellness, a hair salon, a library, and an area for worship similar to a chapel. It should be located close to other amenities like restaurants, theaters, and shopping malls. The home provides transportation for group outings.
  5. Plants, Pets, and Children - There is greenery both inside and outside the building, with lovely grounds and areas to walk around and socialize. Residents can have a small to mid-sized dog or cat living with them. Many great assisted living residences invite visits from local children to brighten up the residents' day.
  6. Excellent Nutritious Food - For health and for pleasure, dining together with friends is an important social experience. When you visit an assisted living community, ask to try the cuisine. The food should be high-quality, nutritious and freshly prepared.
  7. Bedroom or Suite - The suite should be comfortable and include a kitchenette and a bathroom with a shower. Privacy is important and the resident should be in control of his personal space and time.
  8. Personalized Plan - The residence should have a team that sets up a personalized plan for residents that meets their physical and emotional needs, and accommodates for any disabilities that they may have.
  9. Additional Assistance - If a resident requires a higher level of care, such as taking medication, assistance with bathing, or dressing, services are available. The goal is to allow people to "age in place" as much as possible.
  10. Social Activities - There should be interesting activities and events available daily, including nights and weekends. One of the main reasons seniors move in to an assisted living community is to ease the loneliness they experience living alone.
There are some excellent resources on the Internet that will assist you in finding the best assisted living residence for you. LeadingAge.org provides news and case studies about assisted living on their website. Alfa.org provides a checklist of traits to look for in an assisted living community. NewLifestyles.com and SeniorsBlueBook.com are free resources which offer additional information about assisted living residences in the area. With patience and persistence, you will find the perfect residence for you!