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Choosing The Right Community For Someone You Love

There are many things to consider when choosing an assisted living or memory care community for someone you love. If you’ve never researched or had any experience with these types of senior living, you may wonder where to start.  First, let’s consider when assisted living or memory care is appropriate.


Assisted Living, as its name suggests, is for people who are generally independent, but who may need some assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and grooming, or things such as preparing meals and remembering to take medications.  Assisted living can also be a good option for people experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia who don’t yet need specialized memory care. Admission into an assisted living community usually involves a medical assessment to determine what types of care will be most helpful for the resident.


Memory Care is generally for people who are experiencing mid- to late-stage Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. When changes in behavior, confusion and disorientation create an untenable or unsafe environment for the patient or their caregiver — or when there is a decline in physical health of the patient or caregiver — specialized memory care is a good option. As with assisted living, a medical assessment will help determine the appropriate level of care.


Finding The Right Fit

It’s important to understand that finding the community that is the best fit for your loved one is a process that may take some time. If possible, it’s a good idea to begin researching options before care is actually needed, so you can make the best decision without the added pressure of a crisis situation. Communities have limited space, and waiting lists are common.

To make the process easier, we’ve narrowed down some important factors to consider as you visit communities. Let’s dive in …

Six points to consider when looking for assisted living or memory care

  1. The four R’s: ratings, reviews, referrals and residents

Research the community online and read ratings and reviews. Ask relatives, friends, and neighbors for referrals based on their experiences with loved ones in assisted living or memory care. You can also contact the local Area Agency on Aging for referrals.  When you visit the community, strike up a conversation with some of the residents or their visiting family members. Ask about their experiences living in the community. Is it friendly and welcoming? Are staff members attentive to resident needs? What do they like most? What would they change if they could? Residents and their family members are usually happy to share their insights.

  1. First impressions (and beyond)

            As you tour the community, notice everything around you.

  • Do you see staff interacting with residents? What are those interactions like?
  • Do residents seem happy and well cared for?
  • Are staff members upbeat and positive?
  • Does the environment feel like a residence or does it feel institutional?
  • Is the community clean and well maintained?

Most communities will allow you to have a meal in their dining room to sample the food.

Find out if residents must follow a schedule for meals or if they can eat when it suits them.

If possible, it’s also a good idea to make a second visit in the evening to get an idea of night staffing and how the environment is different in the evening hours.

  1. Engaging amenities

A robust calendar of interesting, engaging activities and daytrips can play an important role in helping your loved one age well and remain as independent as possible. Countless studies have proven the importance of social interaction and engagement for emotional wellness and cognitive health.

Before your visit, take some time to ask for your loved one’s input and consider the types of things they would enjoy. Then, when you visit, ask if those activities are offered or can be accommodated at the community.

  • What types of fitness facilities does the community have?
  • Are group exercise classes offered?
  • Are there planned activities such as clubs, classes and daytrips?
  • Does the community offer spiritual study groups and church services?
  • Is transportation provided for activities?
  • What about social events? Does the community celebrate special occasions like holidays, birthdays and anniversaries? Are family and friends welcome to participate?

You want to make sure that your loved one will feel engaged in their new community and have something to look forward to each day. The community should make it easy for residents to participate as much or as little as they desire, always respecting the individual’s preferences.

  1. Speak to residents or other family members

Your best source for insights into the community will be people who live there and the loved ones who support them. Ask for references of good people to contact. That way you can get their impressions of the campus and find out more about their experience with team members. Ask what they wish they’d known before they moved and what they love about their decision.

  1. Observe some activities

Make sure your loved one will be entertained, engaged and challenged by the scheduled activities at the community. Discover for yourself if the activity coordinators are engaging and attuned to residents’ needs. And find out if the activities are any fun!

  1. Answers to your questions

As you tour the campus, have a list of questions that are important to you and your loved one. The sales staff and other team members want you to have the information you need to make an informed decision, so don’t hesitate.

You might start with the big questions. What is the fee structure? If there is an entrance fee, and is it refundable? What plans are in place if your loved one needs higher levels of care?  Seize your opportunity to ask your questions in person, and if you think of more after you’ve left, you can always follow up with your tour guide.

Beyond browsing a website or reading a brochure with pictures of smiling people, touring a community provides you the opportunity to dig deeper into the information that’s important to you and your loved one. It’s an important decision, and several care and lifestyle pieces need to come together to create the right fit for you and them, so visit a community as many times as you need.

We’re here to help every step of the way. We’d love to have you visit John Knox Village East, treat you to lunch, and answer any questions you may have. Simply call (660)-584-4416 to schedule your personal tour. We look forward to meeting you!

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