Ten qualities of a great assisted living residence

By Fern Marder, Parker Home

A n assisted living residence is a good option for seniors who need help with some aspects of daily living, such as cooking meals, taking medication, cleaning the house, and traveling to appointments.The residence also provides a secure environment with emergency call systems in place.When you need more assistance that your family, friends and in-home help can provide, you should consider moving to an assisted living residence.

There are 10 qualities you should keep in mind while visiting assisted living residences:

1. Contentment — When visiting an assisted living residence, speak to the people who live there and find out how they feel about the home. Do you see people socializing and laughing? Are the residents participating in activities and clubs? Do they like the environment and the food?

2. Home-like — The assisted living residence is clean, comfortable and nicely decorated, with plants and artwork. The dining room uses real dishes and silverware — no paper and plastic. There are areas where small groups can gather and enjoy activities together or watch TV.

3.Autonomy — Residents have the freedom to do what you can for themselves. Their choices and wishes are encouraged and respected.The residents should be treated with dignity and respect.

4.Amenities — The assisted living residence has a health and wellness center where you can exercise and learn about wellness, a hair salon, a library, an area for worship similar to a chapel, proximity to other amenities like theaters, shopping malls, and transportation to bring you there and back.

5. Plants, pets and children — There is greenery both inside and outside the building, with lovely grounds and areas to walk and socialize. Residents can have a small to mid-sized dog or cat living with them. Many great assisted living residences have visits from local children to brighten up the residents’ day.

6. Excellent, nutritious food — For health and for pleasure, dining together with friends is an important social experience.When you visit an assisted living residence, ask to try the cuisine.The food should be highquality, nutritious and freshly prepared.

7. Bedroom or suite — The suite should be comfortable and include a kitchenette and a bathroom with a shower. Privacy is important and the resident should be in control of his personal space and time.

8. Personalized plan — The residence should have a team that sets up a personalized plan for residents that meets their physical and emotional needs, including accommodating for any disabilities that they may have. 9.Additional assistance — If a resident requires a higher level of care, such as taking medication or assistance with bathing, or laundry, services are available.The goal is to allow people to “age in place” as much as possible.

10. Social activities — There should be interesting activities and events available daily, including nights and weekends. One of the main reasons seniors move in to assisted living residences is to ease the loneliness they experience living alone. There are some excellent resources on the Internet that will assist you in finding the best assisted living residence for you. LeadingAge.org provides news and case studies about assisted living on their website. Helpguide.org is a nonprofit guide to resources including assisted living residences.Alfa.org provides a checklist of traits to look for in an assisted living residence.With patience and persistence, you will find the perfect residence for you.

Fern Marder is the marketing communications manager for Parker Homes, with locations in Highland Park, Piscataway and Monroe. For more information, call 732-565-2400.