In the 21st century, we’re living longer and healthier lives than ever before. Still, aging catches up to all of us eventually. Even if we don’t have any major health concerns, we may start to need a little assistance preparing meals, taking a shower, or climbing stairs, for example.
Assisted living was created for precisely this purpose: to provide seniors with help for activities of daily living (ADL) such as housekeeping, meals, bathing, and errands. In 1983, Keren Brown Wilson developed the original model, known as “living with assistance,” in Portland, Oregon. It was a huge success, and the assisted living concept took off.
Tillman Pink Jr. held a similar vision. He launched Glen Park just a few years after Wilson’s inaugural community, based on the principles of superior care, excellent service, responsiveness, and unwavering respect for life.
Today, our communities in Glendale, Monrovia, Long Beach, and Valley Village continue to provide innovative assisted living services and amenities designed to improve the quality of life for seniors throughout the greater Los Angeles area.
What Is An Assisted Living Community?
In an assisted living community, residents want and receive some supportive care. Assisted living is also a good choice if a senior needs help to get to appointments.
Some of the services an assisted living community provides typically include:
- Assistance with ADL (bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, etc.)
- Medication management
- Social activities
- Health services
- Wellness programs
Choosing the Right Assisted Living Community
Selecting the best community for your loved one depends on a number of factors, beginning with geography. For example, does the senior prefer living:
- In a city or suburban setting?
- In a warm climate, or one with four seasons?
- Near a major medical center, or close to shopping and entertainment?
- Close to children and grandchildren?
While some of these considerations are not mutually exclusive, it’s important to know what matters most to the senior, and what will best support their well being as they age.
Once you determine the ideal location, aim to visit between three and six assisted living communities. Here’s a brief checklist of what to look for:
- Are building and grounds pleasing and well maintained?
- Is the ambiance home-like, and suited to the senior’s needs?
- Did the staff greet you warmly? Address you by name?
- Is the community clean, odor-free, and properly heated/cooled?
- Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the community and staff?
- Do the residents seem like a good match for your loved one?
- Are doorways, halls, and rooms wheelchair and walker accessible?
- Do common areas and rooms have handrails, non-skid floors, and carpets, good lighting, cupboards and shelves within easy reach?
- Are smoke detectors and exits clearly marked?
- Are different sizes and types of apartments available?
- Is a 24-hour emergency response system accessible from the apartment?
- Is housekeeping provided for personal living spaces?
- Are residents able to bring their own furnishings? What’s provided?
- May residents have cars? Is there assigned parking?
- Is there an area for resident gardening?
- How many meals are served each day in a common dining area?
- How often do the menus change?
- Are snacks available?
- Does the residence accommodate special diets?
- Are residents allowed to invite guests for meals?
Social and Recreational Activities
- Are there organized daily activities and events?
- Does the community encourage residents to participate in activities?
- Do residents also participate in activities in town?
- Do volunteers, including family members, come to the community to help with or to conduct programs?
- Is there a community pet?
- Are residents’ pets allowed in the community? Who is responsible for their care?
Services & Amenities
- Is staff available 24/7 to help with ADL if needed?
- Is there a hair salon on the premises?
- Does the community provide scheduled transportation for medical appointments, shopping, etc.? Can residents arrange for transportation on short notice?
- What are the exercise and wellness programs like?
- Do staff members receive special training in caring for residents with dementia?
- Do staff members handle resident requests in a timely way?
- Can residents hire private duty companions? What is the procedure for this type of service?
- Does the director have an “open door” policy?
- Who owns the assisted living community?
- Is the residence licensed? Is the license current? (Ask to review the last licensing or certification report.)
6 Tips to Select A Community Your Loved One Will Love
Moving is a major decision at any life stage, even more so in our senior years. To ensure you and your loved one make the best decision for his or her future:
- Don’t rush. Remember when you bought a house? It probably wasn’t the first one you saw. Start well in advance of the move, and visit at least three to six communities over a period of weeks.
- Be thorough. A high price tag doesn’t necessarily equate to quality care. This is why the checklist is so important. Many excellent assisted living facilities are quite affordable, with well- trained, caring staff. Look for signs that the seniors who live there are comfortable, content, and well cared for.
- Get input. Ask other family members to visit with you, or at another time, and exchange impressions. You might also seek the services of a professional such as a geriatric care manager or senior living advisor. When everyone is on the same page, make a decision.
- Select for who the senior is now. An assisted living community that has a swimming pool when your parent hasn’t been in the water in decades is planning for an outdated perception: understandable, but not realistic. Choose a community that matches your loved one’s current needs.
- Plan for the future. By the same token, choose a community where your loved one can “age in place” without having to move again if their needs change. At Glen Park, we’re dedicated to the unique needs of residents with memory impairment. We also partner with Five Star Home Hospice to help those in our care face the end of life.
- Read the fine print. Make sure you understand the fine print in the contract. You may wish to review it with an elder law attorney before you sign.