Did you know there are roughly 11,000 senior centers in the United States serving about 1 million elders? That’s about 91 seniors per center.
As the baby boomer generation continues to age, this number is only growing, which leaves millions of caretakers searching for senior care.
If you are among this number, here are some tips for you on how to find the right senior center for your loved ones.
10 Questions to Ask When Searching For The Right Senior Center
Choosing the correct senior center for our loved ones is not easy. We have to first think about what type of care they need, how much care they need, and who will be there for them when we’re not around.
Below is a list of questions we’ve come up for you to ask the staff when you’re visiting different centers.
1. What Kind of Services Are Available?
There are many types of senior centers around the country. Some specialize in caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s, some cater specifically to seniors with disabilities, and some are for seniors who need more social support.
Whichever category your loved one falls under, you need to make sure there is proper support for them.
Since nearly 30% of seniors over 85 suffer from dementia and 10% of seniors over 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s, a large proportion of senior homes have memory loss services like the Seasons Nursing Home in Florida.
2. Is There Care Around The Clock Care?
Who checks up on the seniors in the morning, afternoon, and night? Is there someone around to respond immediately if there is an emergency?
Is there a licensed nurse or doctor on site at all times?
Falls and accidents do not follow schedules and it is vital that the center has at least one staff member who can take care of this any time.
3. Who Takes Care of Doctor’s Appointments?
Seniors need to see doctors regularly for check-ups. Ask if the center arranges transportation for the seniors to see their doctors and who’s in charge of their schedules.
4. What Is the Staff-to-Resident Ratio?
Surprisingly, senior centers are not required to report this number.
One explanation is that this number can be misleading because it counts everyone on site as staff, including the gardener who does not provide direct care. Another explanation is that because each center has such different needs, it would be unfair to judge centers based on this number.
Despite so, we think it’s important for you to ask this question to get a sense of how many staff members are around for each shift. Better yet, ask who each of these staff members are and what roles they play in providing care.
5. What Is A Typical Day Like At the Center?
Ask to see a schedule of the week from the staff members. Take note of what activities and programs are available to keep seniors active and social.
Socialization is vital for seniors to stay mentally and emotionally healthy. It’s been proven that seniors with more socialization lead longer lives.
Regular exercise can help seniors retain memory and physically fit. Ask the center if there are any fitness classes for seniors or assistants to help bed-bound residents to move their bodies.
6. What Is The Community Like?
To follow up with the last question, see if there is someone in charge of fostering a sense of community among the residents.
Some seniors, especially those who are struggling with dementia or depression, may have a hard time making friends and it’s important that there is someone to help them out.
Furthermore, a strong sense of community in the building is a healthy sign of the people and quality of care.
7. How Often Are Rooms Cleaned?
The elderly are especially prone to illnesses, therefore, cleanliness should be a top priority for the center.
Ask the staff how often rooms are cleaned, how often bed sheets and linens are changed, and how often laundry is done. When you’re walking through the halls and the rooms, take note of any smells as well.
A well-run senior center should not have any overwhelming odors.
8. What Is Meal Time Like?
Are they required to come to the cafeteria for food? What happens if someone is sick or simply does not feel like coming to the cafeteria? And most importantly– what do they eat?
If your loved one has any special dietary restrictions, make sure you inquire about that as well.
Then ask for a tour of the kitchen and cafeteria so you can see exactly what is being served.
9. Can You Speak With Other Residents?
A good nursing home should be proud to show you their facilities and let you speak to other residents. If possible, see if you can speak to them without staff around.
Ask the residents what they think of the center, if they’re happy there and how they spend their days. Keep in mind, you might hear some complaints because no place is perfect but the majority of comments should be positive.
10. How Does Payment Work?
Do they accept Medicaid? What does it cover? Are you billed monthly? Finding a senior center is very much like finding an apartment or a house and you need to know exactly what you’re getting into financially.
A good senior center should be able to help you come up with a plan that works for you.
Also, should you ever run into financial hardships, is there assistance or support from the staff to help you figure out a solution? We all want to be able to provide the best care possible for our loved ones but we also want to be prepared.
Do Your Own Research
At the end of the day, the answers you hear at the centers are still answers from them so be sure to do your own research as well.
Find survey results of the senior center and see how they compare with senior centers nearby.
See if any abuse was ever reported and what you can do if you abuse is ever suspected.
Aging is never an easy process for the individual or the family but we can make sure we choose the best care for them.
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