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How to choose the right senior community for your loved one

The Laureate Way

Articles to Help Families and Older Adults Manage the Challenges of Aging

How to choose the right senior community for your loved one

how to choose the right senior community for your loved one

The Shiny Penny Syndrome is the attraction and distraction of the newest, latest, greatest shiny object in our path. With the number of brand new senior living communities built on every corner, it’s easy to be distracted by the amenities, the common spaces, and even the finish on the kitchen cabinets. Learning how to choose the right senior community for your loved one is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make for your aging senior.

The Division of Quality Assurance: Bureau of Assisted Living publishes a document every year that lists brief summaries of serious violations in Wisconsin assisted living facilities. These are actions that have resulted in extreme harm to residents. I’m sad to say that there are hundreds of incidents on the list.

Make an Informed Decision

There are ways to minimize the risk of choosing the wrong community. And looking beyond the physical space is a critical step.

Experience Matters

Assessing a community’s assisted living should be part of the process, as health needs can change quickly. When choosing a senior community, how long a provider has been offering assisted living tells you something important. It is not to your advantage to be the first family that will be receiving services in a building previously set up as a senior apartment complex.

Caring for older adults with multiple chronic conditions requires specialized clinical expertise and oversight, and an understanding of how to balance the individual’s need for independence with the need for safety. That takes experience. Ask about the provider’s experience in assisted living.

Staff Matters

Even though a provider has offered assisted living for quite some time, it doesn’t mean that the specific staff caring for your loved one is experienced. Here are some questions to ask to assess the level of expertise when choosing a senior community:

  • Is there a full-time registered nurse (RN) on site? (Many communities have one RN for many locations, and that means a nurse is not readily available for unplanned needs.
  • Although many factors contribute to quality care, it is widely accepted that low staff turnover among good staff contributes significantly to resident satisfaction and quality care. What is the staff turnover rate, especially among fulltime staff?
  • Does the community regularly survey resident satisfaction? 

Culinary Experience

Good food is a simple expectation – in our schools, in our hospitals and particularly in our retirement communities. Our communities offer chef-prepared meals made from scratch with fresh ingredients.

  • Ask if meals are prepared from scratch or if they are mostly heat and serve
  • What happens if your loved one doesn’t like what’s offered today? What are the substitutions?

Lifestyle Matters

While all the health related things I’ve mentioned are very important, so is the community’s activity programming.

  • Ask about the variety of activities and the frequency.
  • Are residents still engaged outside in the local community as well as participating in the activities where they reside?
  • Is there a dedicated, experienced staff person focused on the residents’ quality of life?

If you evaluate these things, you will be well on your way to making a good decision. Laureate Group Senior Communities prides itself on keeping loved ones in good hands – our hands.

If you need additional help, contact Laureate Cares to speak with someone who can help you sort through the issues, identify options and figure out the steps necessary to make a good decision in your particular situation. Laureate Cares is a free consultation service, so don’t hesitate to call us at 262-832-7113.