When senior loved ones require more daily personal care than they could safely receive at home, Louisville families often wonder how they should choose a senior living community to meet their needs.
The selection process isn’t easy — nor should it be. It should be one that is careful and considered. You want to be sure that the provider your family chooses is not only providing quality, person-centered care, but that your loved one is happy with the arrangement and will have everything he or she needs to continue living a rich, fulfilling retirement.
Today, let’s examine 10 questions you and your family should ask before choosing a personal care community in Louisville.
1. What floor plans are available for the level of care required?
Seniors have varying personal care needs. Some only need light assisted living services, such as cooking and cleaning help, regular physical or occupational therapy, transportation assistance and so on.
Others need a bit more: help in the bathroom or dressing, mobility assistance, medication management and advanced nutrition. Still others require respiratory therapy, memory care, or 24/7 medical care.
Most continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) like Episcopal Church Home design their senior living units to facilitate those progressive levels of care. If your relative’s personal care needs are relatively light, will he or she have a private apartment or townhome? A private room? A joined suite with a shared common area?
2. Is there a waiting list?
There’s a critical shortage of residential senior care in the United States — especially now that the Baby Boom generation is reaching peak retirement. Many personal care communities are full and have waiting lists for prospective residents.
Often, when unexpected medical issues arise, families can’t place their loved ones with their first choice of senior living communities. This underscores the need for seniors and their families to make decisions and start arranging care transitions before the situation is acute.
It isn’t a bad idea to get on the waiting list for your loved one’s preferred retirement community while he or she is still healthy and vibrant. Many seniors move into CCRCs while they’re still living completely independently so that they’re ready to transition to higher levels of care, within the same community, when the time is right.
3. How happy do residents and staff members appear?
If the people who are already part of a given retirement community seem happy, fulfilled, or driven by a sense of purpose, it’s more likely your loved one would, too.
Do the residents smile freely? Do they appear to enjoy each other’s company? Does the staff seem genuinely happy to serve?
4. How carefully are the grounds and corridors maintained?
If a personal care community pays close attention to the smallest details, it’s more likely they provide excellent care. On your family’s visit, you should pay close attention to how the community views itself.
Are the grounds well-kept and beautifully landscaped? Are sidewalks paved straight and even?
Are the corridors wide, uncluttered and brightly lit with plenty of natural sunshine? Are grab bars and non-slip mats appropriately placed?
Are there chips in the paint, scuffs on the wall, stains on the ceiling, or bubbles in the carpet? Does the interior smell clean and fresh? Are the floors swept clean and gleaming? Are carpets vacuumed daily? Are trash cans and recycling bins emptied every day? Are restrooms consistently clean and well-stocked?
Are tables in the dining facilities promptly cleared and wiped down? Are there crumbs or napkins littering the floor outside of meal rushes?
5. How secure is the community? What is its safety record like?
Are entrances secure and closely monitored? Are the parking areas well-lit and regularly patrolled? Has the community experienced repeat vehicle break-ins or vandalism?
Are residents with dementia allowed to wander in a safely monitored, controlled environment? Does the community foster an open memory care environment, in which residents are free to move about and interact, with attentive staff close by to assist as necessary?
Has the community ever been sanctioned by licensing bodies, health department, or by the state Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)? Has it passed all its regulatory and safety inspections with perfect or near-perfect scores?
6. Does the community pay close attention to resident hygiene?
Residents in a quality personal care community should appear well put together. They should be freshly bathed, combed and attentively groomed. Obvious hygiene issues could indicate that a facility’s staff is overworked or under-attentive.
7. What medical, wellness and assisted living services does the community provide on-site?
Will your older relative have immediate access to the care he or she needs in an emergency? Do care providers proactively round at least several times a day to check on the status of all the residents who need close medical monitoring?
Does the community have a nice exercise facility? On-site physical therapy rooms? A heated, indoor pool?
Are medications administered in a senior’s apartment home, or from a centralized dispensary? What’s the ratio of nurses and patient care assistants to residents? Is there an attending physician on-site
8. How’s the food?
This one’s fairly straightforward. On your tour, sample the cuisine. If you don’t love it, your senior relative wouldn’t either.
Beyond that, would your loved one have dining choices? For example, does the community have one main dining room, or several eateries? Is room service available and included in the monthly care fee?
Is the food delicious and nutritious? Can the community easily and consistently accommodate your relative’s special dietary needs.
9. Does the community allow pets and service animals?
Many seniors find comfort and joy in caring for a dog, cat, or small animal. Some have need of certified service animals. If your loved one has a special animal buddy, will the community allow them to stay together?
10. Will the community fit your family’s budget?
Make sure there are no hidden fees, that you know exactly what is included in the monthly cost, and that your family has the resources to sustain placement. Consider choosing a not-for-profit community that commits itself never to ask a resident to move out if he or she outlives resources.
There are many more questions you should ask as you choose a personal care community.
Too many, in fact, to effectively list here. Check out this informative list from AARP to give you additional insight.
Remember to be duly diligent. The more you know up front, the more prepared your family will be, and the happier your loved one will be in his or her new retirement community.
Learn more about Episcopal Church Home’s person-centered approach to senior care.
If your older loved one needs residential retirement care in Louisville, we’d love to show you the difference holistic care can make in seniors’ overall well-being.
Click here to learn more about our senior services — from assisted living to residential memory care — then come take a tour of our Kentucky retirement community.