Choosing a new home can be stressful, and when you’re helping your parent choose an assisted living facility, there are a lot more details to consider than who the neighbors are. One point that shouldn’t be overlooked is visiting rules, because limitations in this area can directly affect the quality of your relationship with your aging parent. An assisted living facility isn’t a nursing home, so don’t consider letting your parent move to a place where you yourself might not be welcomed. Here are questions you can ask when interviewing staff at a possible new home:
When are visitors allowed?
While you obviously don’t want to cruise in at midnight on a loud motorcycle, most quality assisted living campuses have an open door policy, more or less. Living independently is the biggest draw for assisted living, so there shouldn’t be too many restrictions on who can visit and when. Of course, common sense applies here; you won’t want your parent fatigued by too much company. Restrictions on visitation that seem unreasonable are just that, so cross a facility off your list if they don’t allow your parent the freedom to have visitors at random times.
Can I spend the night? How about grandchildren?
When you’ve narrowed down your list of locations, spend a night or two before you sign the contract. Take notice if staff members seem nervous or fake and if you feel comfortable and welcomed. If the facility passes this test, ask whether you and grandchildren can come for overnight visits with your parent once he or she is a resident.
Are pets allowed to visit?
If you’re a pet owner, you already know how much joy that unconditional love can bring. If your parent is attached to your dog, the occasional visit from him would be most welcome. Check on the facility’s animal policy; at the very least, you should be able to bring your pet for a visit with your parent on the grounds, if not inside. Some assisted living homes allow residents to have their own pets, and some have faculty pets for all to enjoy.
Can I join my parent for lunch or dinner?
You might take this for granted, but ask anyway. You should be able to share a meal in the dining room with your parent and his or her friends whenever your schedule allows, but some places have restrictions. Once you’ve narrowed your choices, take your parent to the dining room for lunch or dinner and mingle with the residents. This is the perfect opportunity to get the “inside scoop” on the pros and cons of everyday living at your possible home of choice.
The bottom line is this: an assisted living facility should allow your parent to continue their social interaction with friends and family without major changes. Use your common sense, and pay attention to your instincts if something feels off but you can’t pinpoint an exact reason. An extra week or month spent in choosing the perfect home will be well spent once your parent has moved to an assisted living campus you all love.