Comfortable Care

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FINDING THE RIGHT ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES FOR YOUR LOVED ONES 

When the time comes, finding the most comfortable assisted living facility for a loved one is of utmost importance. In addition to high-quality care, the facility should provide opportunities for daily activities and meaningful social interactions.

Assisted living facilities, which help the elderly manage daily tasks such as getting dressed, doing laundry and taking the proper medicines, can help benefit overall health and mental well-being, according to AARP.

Social support from peers and interaction with friendly staff members can help keep your loved ones engaged, the S.C. Department of Aging said on its website. “On average, people with strong social ties live more than four years longer than others,” said Timothy B. Smith, a professor of counseling psychology at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Beside increased social engagement, many facilities nationwide provide access to a pharmacy (83.6%), dietary and nutritional guidance (82.8%), physical, occupational or speech therapy (71.4%) and skilled nursing care (66.1%), according to the National Center for Assisted Living.

Others offer more services for those with specific needs, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The National Center for Assisted Living said about 14% of assisted living communities in the U.S. have a dementia care unit.

Where to start There are many resources to help you find the right place. To get started, contacting your local or state Area Agency on Aging (call 800-677-1116 to find the closest agency) or visit leadingage.org, which is a national group of organizations that offers aging-related services.

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GetCareSc (getcaresc.com), a resource on the S.C. Department of Aging’s website, offers a searchable list of facilities throughout the state.

Argentum, a trade association for seniorliving facilities, offers an online directory of facilities throughout the country. AARP’s website also offers a checklist of important questions to ask when you contact the facilities.

On average, people with strong social ties live more than four years longer than others.

– TIMOTHY B. SMITH, PROFESSOR OF COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY AT BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY

What to look for There are important things to look for when choosing the best facility. At the top of the list is cleanliness.

“Does the community feel fresh and clean?” A Place for Mom, an assisted living referral service, notes on its website. “Make sure to look past the furnishings and into corners, baseboards and windows.”

Comfortable Care3AARP suggests also checking for rooms and bathrooms with handrails and call buttons; safety locks on doors and windows; well-lit stairs and hallways with well-marked exits; and large enough rooms for your family member’s needs. Be aware of the staff’s friendliness. Their attitude toward each other and the residents can give you a good idea of how they interact daily.

Does the staff listen and make eye contact? How many people are involved in the residents’ care?

“It is important that you have confidence in the property’s staff,” the website said.

Make sure to visit the facility during an activity. This will also help you judge how the staff interacts with the residents and if the activities offered are fun and engaging.

“Take a look at the community calendar of events. Do they match your or your loved one’s interests?” A Place for Mom said.

And most importantly, make sure your loved ones are with you on any visit and are engaged in discussions.