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Eight tips when searching for an assisted living or nursing home

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Finding the right assisted living community or nursing home can be as difficult as finding a needle in a hay stack.

To ease the burden of the search, consider the following tips:

Cleanliness: Look up, down and all around. If the vents, floors and the fake flowers in the corner are clean; you probably can bet that your mom's apartment will be also. As you tour the community, ask about the frequency of housekeeping and the response time for maintenance requests.

Smell test: Odors can be deceiving so don't jump to conclusions without putting on your Sherlock Holmes thinking cap. An odor in a particular area could indicate an isolated incident which will certainly happen in a nursing home from time to time. If you walk the entire community and you smell urine, feces or other unpleasant odors often; that's a sign of problems. You will certainly want to ask the facility manager about the root of such odors.

Activity Program: One of the first things you will want to do is grab the community's event calendar. See if the activities match your loved one's interests. Also, be on the look out for residents engaging in activities. Are the activities well-attended? Do the residents look happy or challenged by the activities?

Staff Happiness: It has been said that pictures say a thousand words, well so does a community's staff. Be on the lookout for happy and friendly staff members. Did they greet you while you were on your tour? How did they interact with other staff members and the residents?

Taste the food: Take the time for you and your loved one to have a meal at the community. Remember they will be eating in the same dining room each day, so the food needs to be well-balanced, visually appealing and tasty.

Safety is key: Safety is paramount when looking at a community. Make sure that bathrooms are accessible and that grab bars are convenient. Ask about how residents contact staff in the event of an emergency. Finally, don't hesitate to ask to see the results of their latest state inspection.

Current resident appearance: Be mindful of the care and well-being of current residents. Are they clean-shaven, appropriately dressed and so on?

Gut feelings: Can you imagine you or your loved one living there and being comfortable? Did the staff and the community set you at ease or did it prompt questioning or suspicions?

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