Gerald helped his mother select an assisted living facility.
What I Learned From Choosing a Assisted Living Facility
person found Gerald's experience helpful.
My mother did not want to continue living alone in a senior apartment community where she had to worry about her meals and the lack of planned activities. The apartment complex did not have an activities director or a place where residents could engage in crafts and card playing. I could see the lack of socialization was causing her physical and emotional problems. Mother would not go door to door introducing herself, and the other residents wouldn't either. I realized that happiness would continue to elude her while she was living independently.
We discussed how we could make her life better. I decided it would be better if she reached a conclusion by herself. I asked reflective questions about the lifestyle she wanted, and her answers led her to realize she wanted to be in a community environment where seniors played and worked together without being invited. She did not want to cook anymore or worry about the housekeeper coming. She did not want to deal with maintenance issues. I described assisted living environments, and she readily agreed to look at these facilities with me.
The good, the bad, and the ugly assisted living places all claim to provide great service. I did not want my mother to move into any place that was less than very good or superior. I needed help in finding a place, and I chose to not rely on the recommendations of others.
Our state, like most states, has an Office on the Aging, and I called the person in charge of referrals for assisted living places. The state inspects these facilities, and the reports are available to the public. The representative suggested I look at three places, and she sent me the state rating information. Having decided that these were worth visiting, I called the health department's food safety unit, which inspects all institutional units for compliance with the food safety code. I obtained the reports for each facility for the past 12 months. I eliminated one of the three based on its report.
This left us with two places, and I called each one to arrange a visit. I asked the staff person meeting with us at the first place to take my mom on a tour and make her feel very special and very welcome. For some reason, after the tour, my mother was adamant that she would not go there under any circumstances. Her attitude was both confusing and frustrating because I could not understand the problem and my mother did not want to talk about it.
I was left with one place to visit, and if this did not work out, I did not know where to go next. The nearest assisted living place on the "very good" list was 25 miles away, and visiting her there would be very difficult.
I took Mom to lunch, and she talked about her feelings. While this facility met the high standards of the government, it failed to meet Mom's standards. I really felt bewildered, so I asked her for specifics. She said it didn't feel like home. This was a problem, because I knew the other place wouldn't either. No place would be like home, but one can add the little touches that will remind a person of home.
Mom seemed open to further conversation that would help her feel better about moving. I decided to take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side, we listed the benefits of moving, and on the other side, we listed the problems and benefits of staying in her apartment. As we progressed through this exercise, mom could see that the benefits of moving far outweighed the benefits and the problems of staying in the apartment.
We went to the next facility the following day because mom needed to rest, and I did not want to overload her mind. On the way to the next place, I saw a different person. She was not convinced, but she was not negative either.
When we arrived at the second place, residents greeted us and welcomed her by name. Instead of a staff person taking her on a tour, three residents conducted a complete tour and talked about all the wonderful activities and the bus trips to lunch out or to shows. They invited her to join the dominoes game club, and she said, "I will, just as soon as I unpack." This was music to my ears.
I didn't arrange the welcoming committee, but I would have if I had thought of it.
Mom settled in three days later. Life has been great for her and for me.