Choosing Well – A Guide To Finding An Assisted Living Facility – Part 2
There are many things to consider when choosing an assisted living facility. Before you proceed, you may want to read Part 1 of this article on Orchard at Athens blog. Part 2 will focus on three key things to explore:
- Environmental Design
- Nutrition and Dining
- Activity and engagement
As you think about choosing a senior living community, the things that you like, want and need and try to match these with the environment that can best support both your preferences and your needs. Before we proceed, make sure you also read the Part 1 article we have on our blog.
A move to senior living typically means downsizing because it is helpful to simplify. Smaller sized apartments offer personal space and community areas such as living room, dining room, exercise space, libraries, game rooms, or gardens are shared with others living in the community.
If you have ever taken a cruise, you may have experienced a similar shared lifestyle. It’s important to tour a community to see the physical environment and notice if you feel comfortable and at home.
- Does the community indoor space allow for freedom of movement and independence?
- Is there an opportunity for privacy and shared experience?
- Are both the indoor and outdoor areas are safe and secure?
- Is the facility is easy to navigate?
- Are there directional signs and visual cues to help the residents find their way throughout their living environment?
- Is there a designated family visiting area?
- Are there private areas to have confidential conversations with staff or medical practitioners?
- Are the resident rooms clean and designed with functional supports for the resident?
- What personal items are residents encouraged to bring with them to support their transition?
It is also very important to assess your experience of the community culture when deciding on a new place to live. When touring assisted living or memory care, notice how the employees and residents look and present themselves to you and how you observe them relating to one another.
- Do you observe current residents to be relaxed, engaged and happy?
- Does the staff seem hurried, stressed or pressed for time?
- Do you notice residents and staff relating to one another in a positive way and treating one another with respect?
- Are the families you engaged or connecting easily with the staff?
Nutrition & Dining
Meals are an important part of every day in a community because eating well-balanced diets support a healthy lifestyle. And changes in a person’s eating habits can also signify a change in health. Dining with others offers the opportunity to connect while sharing a meal.
Be sure to take a look at the dining room, sample menus, and private gathering areas in the community. Notice if there are multiple areas provided for people who need a quieter setting to eat a meal and whether food is prepared in such a way that the aromas can be enjoyed by the residents.
Food aroma like fresh baked cookies or popcorn can ignite memories, and sometimes help a person connect about shared experiences. And smelling brewing coffee or freshly baked bread can help to stimulate a person’s desire to eat.
For persons living with neuromuscular disorders that can make eating more challenging, Orchard at Athens offers Grind Dining; a program to help accommodate limitations, ensure healthy nutritious options and promote independence.
It is a good idea to make an appointment and have a dining experience at a community you are considering and observe or ask the following questions:
- Are there regular meals and snacks?
- Is there a focus on hydration?
- Is the food offered in an appetizing presentation?
- Is the dining environment is pleasant?
- Are family and friends are welcome to join for meals?
- Does the staff have a plan for monitoring nutrition?
- Is the family notified when a change in diet is noticed?
- Are special dietary preferences or needs accommodated?
Activity & Engagement
Your new community may not be able to provide amenity you desire but it is important to find one that has a staff and culture committed to finding ways to partner with you. Make sure to think about how you would like to spend your day, or how you expect a loved one’s time to be guided and utilized.
- Does the community have a designated staff to help create and facilitate the flow of day?
- Would community schedules or routines make sense and set a resident up for a successful experience?
- Are individual needs and personal preferences accommodated for by the staff and schedule?
- Are there plenty of activity options for differing resident personalities or interests?
- Are activities adapted to meet the cognitive abilities of residents with varying medical diagnosis?
- Does engagement mean more than just leisure activity and include meaningful or purposeful opportunities for the residents?
Executive Director, Taryn Hayes takes pride in creating meaningful life experiences for families and ensures this to be a top priority for Orchard at Athens.
She loves spending time dining with residents and families, facilitating and organizing special events and activities herself, and spending one-on-one time with families asking for their ideas and sharing personal stories.
Call Orchard at Athens today and schedule a time to meet with the Executive Director and other leadership team members. Experience for yourself this unique luxury assisted living and memory care.