Not all retirement homes are created equal. We all worry about the quality of care in nursing homes and want to know that a resident there will receive the best care available and will be able to look on the facility as real home. And as the boomers age, many assisted living homes are finding themselves competing on the basis of care and amenities. So if you are looking for the best environment possible for an aging parent or partner, there are several key things to consider.
This is Home
Moving can be disorienting for seniors, so look for a nursing home that is as comfortable and homey as possible. The best facilities encourage people to decorate their private rooms with some furnishings from home and personal photographs and art on the walls. Rooms should always be clean and comfortable, and those rooms should be easy for the resident to access, with good lighting and no obstacles in the way of walking or wheeling. Gardens are very desirable in long term care homes, since so many people enjoy working in them or simply getting outside and enjoying the greenery. A growing number of assisted living homes now allow residents to a have a pet (with size limitations), and a four-legged friend can be a real mood lifter.
One of the most common problems for the older population is the feeling of loneliness, and the best residences have plenty of different kinds of activities to ensure there is social interaction among the residents. Look for a residential facility to have regular outings to museums, theaters, movies, even special celebrations like going to see fireworks on July 4th. And the facility should offer different activities internally like dancing, arts and crafts, singalongs, educational classes and guest entertainers.
Of course, health is a primary concern for the aging populace, and as the staff at the long term care facility will be primarily responsible for the health care of the residents, it is your right to check out the staff and administrators carefully. Expect the facility to have done background checks on employees, and if they haven’t, move on to the next potential residence. Look for a friendly and supportive staff who treat the residents with respect; this means everything from knowing the patient’s names to making sure to knock on doors before going into their rooms. Observe the meal preparation and the fully prepared meals to ensure that the food is healthy, well-balanced and tasty, and that dietary requirements due to illness or religion are observed. The staff should also be observant about eating, and should notify a the resident’s doctor and/or family if there seems to be a problem.