Most Americans understand the very basics of assisted living. Unfortunately, when it comes to elder care, the vast majority don’t consider it important enough to look into until someone they love is having extreme difficulty at home. Many of us tend to misconstrue assisted living with other types of elder care, but the purpose of assisted living is to maximize quality of life for aging seniors, thus providing them the service and support they need as they age.
There are many resources — both online and in person — where you can find information about this elder care option. But, who is reliable? In other words, who should you ask when you begin your search for an assisted living community, either for yourself, an aging parent, spouse, sibling, or close friend (or somebody else you love)?
Ask to Meet With Current or Former Residents
Some communities protect their residents, so just because you ask won’t mean you’ll get much information — not because they’re trying to hide something, but imagine if you were living in a place and were constantly asked to speak to somebody, like a future potential resident, every week. It could get overwhelming. However, there may be certain residents who are more amenable to speaking to total strangers, even about the very basics, such as what it’s like to live there.
As for former residents, we need to respect their privacy, too. A facility is only going to allow you to reach out and connect with those who had lived there in the past if they gave permission to do so. You wouldn’t want your name and phone number or other direct contact information handed out to total strangers, would you? Respect that, but understand this is a great way to find out about a specific assisted living community.
If you want to learn more about assisted living communities, speaking to those who have lived in these facilities in the past can give you some insight, even if not great specifics.
Ask a Doctor or Nurse
Find some doctors or nurses whose primary clientele are seniors. Make an appointment and speak to somebody by phone or in person about what facilities they might recommend in the area.
Doctors and nurses, over time, will develop a keen understanding of which places are optimal and which ones might leave something to be desired. If a doctor is referring patients to specific assisted living communities, there has to be a good reason, so find out what those reasons are.
Look at Local News Stories
There might not be a lot to find, but you should be able to find something about local facilities. Either press releases or news blotters or some other aspect — like a community event or program that has taken place there and the media covered it.
Online reviews give us a wealth of information about various companies. You do have to take things with a grain of salt sometimes, though. If you find nothing but five-star reviews, it’s either really good, relatively new with a campaign for online reviews, or something is probably missing.
Don’t assume negative reviews mean it’s all bad, though. You can’t please everyone, so look at the averages and focus on those reviews that are detailed, articulate, and especially point out the positives as well as the negatives. That will give you a better understanding of a specific facility in the area and what they offer.