What Makes a Quality Assisted Living Community?

When looking for an assisted living community, either for yourself or your loved one, you want to find the best possible environment. This is a big move that will lead to a new and exciting chapter of your life. Alleviating a lot of these worries comes down to researching and deciding whether or not a particular assisted living community is the right fit. 

Making that decision to transition to an assisted living community has a wide range of incredible benefits. Social communities can have significant advantages for aging adults, such as:

  • Cognitive benefits
  • Preventing forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s when paired with exercise 
  • Reducing stress and anxiety 
  • Improve cardiovascular and immune systems 
  • Boost self-esteem
  • Create a sense of community and self-worth 
  • Longer lifespan 

Moving to an assisted living community can be a big change, but there are many benefits to living in a social and engaging environment. Now, with that being said, it has to be the right community. 

Now, not every assisted living community is an inviting or healthy environment — and if you don’t know what to look out for, you could choose the wrong one. 

But how can you tell? 

We’re going to share with you some of the biggest red flags to look out for so that you can avoid not-so-great assisted living environments for you or your loved ones.

Red Flag 1: Rude or Inattentive Staff 

This one is pretty obvious, but you would be surprised how often the staff is unwilling to make a meaningful first impression. These are the people who will be interacting with, assisting, and engaging you or your loved one — and how they behave during a visit or tour paints a long-term picture. We recommend asking a wide range of team members questions. This may include:

  • Administration
  • Nursing 
  • Activities 
  • Dining 
  • Housekeeping

Ask questions. Yes, you want to know the answer to “What type of meals do residents get?” and “what activities are available?” — but it’s also about how they respond. 

Are they friendly? Are they willing to answer questions thoroughly? Do they go above and beyond to ensure that you’re receiving accurate information? 

Polite and knowledgeable answers give great insight into how well they’re trained and how empathetic or compassionate they are about their job.

Red Flag 2: Residents Don’t Look Well-Kempt 

Take a look around and see how put-together residents are, as this is another indication of how involved or caring the staff are. Be on the lookout for:

  • Dirty, grubby, or soiled clothing 
  • Untidy appearances, specifically hair and beards 
  • Inappropriate clothing for the season

Any and all of these are serious red flags, as they indicate that the residents are not well-cared for, and it may be time to move onto the next assisted living community. 

Red Flag 3: Bad Reviews

Now, it’s not uncommon for a few people with isolated negative experiences to leave an assisted living community with poor reviews, but you shouldn’t disregard these entirely. Check their Google reviews, APlaceForMom reviews, and even testimonials. 

Red Flag 4: Empty Establishment

The more desirable and successful an assisted living community is, the more residents it will have. A vibrant senior living community will have many residents and staff, so pay close attention to how empty a community seems. Get a sense for the energy of the building and general buzz of activity. Does that energy align with your needs? Not everyone is looking for a rustling and bustling community and we understand that. However, an empty establishment can be an indication that they’re having trouble with resident retention or even financial problems. 

Red Flag 5: Hesitancy about Paperwork and Pricing

When touring an assisted living community, there are several questions you should ask regarding both the establishment and documentation. We recommend asking for:

  • Admissions contracts
  • Rules for residents 
  • Number of current residents 
  • Dining menus
  • Activity schedules

These are just the tip of the iceberg, but if you’d like to be better prepared, we suggest looking through our questions to ask an assisted living community. 

If they’re hesitant about providing you with documentation or answers to your questions, this could be a serious red flag. Reluctance to discuss pricing, fees, billing, and any additional financial needs could also be a red flag — don’t accept any vague or unclear answers. When it comes to money, seek clear and concise responses. This can be a bad indication of issues down the line. 

Look for transparency at all times with assisted living communities, particularly with financials and documentation. 

Red Flag 6: Complaints or Violations 

Our final red flag comes in the form of violations from the state. You have the right to see records and reports for the establishment by checking out the American Caregiver Association. A number of violations could be a red flag, as it indicates that they’re unwilling or unable to adhere to the regulating body’s guidelines and compliance standards. 

Furthermore, you should be on the lookout for complaints with the Better Business Bureau or other review sites, as we mentioned, that could illustrate internal issues at the establishments. 

Don’t Settle With Your Future 

Choosing an assisted living community can take some time, but it’s an important decision that requires a lot of research, touring, and decision making. Don’t settle when it comes to a future home. 

Make sure to pay close attention during a tour and ask lots of questions. Take your time and write down any red flags we discussed here today. They can come in handy when touring the next assisted living location, as you can make better comparisons and choose the best possible community.