Frequently, it is an adult child or relative who is tasked with helping to choose a residence. If you are fortunate enough to have time on your side, you should ideally visit several places—spend time at your top three—and then decide which one will be the best fit for your loved one. But, more often than not, a crisis occurs and you do not have the luxury of time. You need to make a decision quickly.

The standard protocol is to visit communities and then compare prices, apartment sizes and services. While these things are all relevant, the social aspect of assisted living should not be overlooked. Below are some key points to consider as you tour different communities.

Friendships: The ability to form new friendships in an assisted living setting can make or break the transition. Look around as you tour. Are there people that you could envision your parent or relative being friendly with? Ask about clubs or activities that would connect your loved one with others who share similar interests.

Dining: Meal times are a critical aspect of a resident’s social life. During your tour, ask questions that would matter to your loved one: How is seating arranged? Is seating open or assigned? Can your loved one sit with newly found friends? The food itself is also a priority, so make sure to request a dining menu. Do they serve the foods your loved one likes? What happens if your loved one has a suggestion for a meal or a recipe to share? Are there fixed hours for dining? These are basic questions, but all of these factors will play a crucial role in your loved one’s assisted living experience. The more accommodating and flexible this experience is, the happier your loved one will be.

Activities: Ask to see an activities schedule and observe an activity, if time permits. Consider the following questions: Does the program seem motivating? Does it fit the cognitive level of my loved one? If not, what accommodations are made? Are there regularly scheduled trips or events outside of the building? The activities offered set the tone for the resident’s day and contributes to their daily routine. Be sure that the things your loved one enjoys are offered at the community. Additionally, a facility might be open to trying whatever it is that interests your loved one. It certainly never hurts to ask!

Clearly, there are many aspects of assisted living that comprise a resident’s experience. Keep in mind that social integration and interaction are among the most important aspects in making a successful transition to an assisted living residence. Research the opportunities for socialization before choosing a residence. Your loved one will thank you for it in the end!

This blog is courtesy of Megin Hemmerling, executive director at the Kaplan Estates in Peabody.

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