Posted April 11, 2009

As difficult as it is to find affordable living arrangements for seniors, it can be even more difficult to know who to trust.

It seems almost daily the news is filled with horror stories about senior living centers where caregivers provided poor or under adjusted care for their residents.  It’s scary to have to put your trust in people who you barely know and enable them to care for loved ones and family.  Follow a few simple tips how to find a facility you trust and keep everyone involved in the know.

Remember: there’s no substitute for firsthand experience.

It stands to reason that a good senior living facility will put you in touch with people who use their services.  Make sure that if these are families of those already living in the facility that they have the opportunity to speak with you outsides of the confines of the facility.  There are always people who are willing to give you clear, trustworthy feedback to all your questions if you know where to look, and if at any time you feel like it is a chore to communicate with a specific facility or potential caregiver this is not a good sign.

There should be no confusion about simple questions about things like meal times, quiet times, activities and the ratio of caregivers and staff to patients.  Remember – every question is important and if they don’t have time to answer them, will they take the right amount of time to give your family member or loved one the care they deserve?

Check the net.

Websites like www.angieslist.org and other internet based web reviews are a great place to start as well.  Many of them don’t allow anonymous reviews and offer certified data collection practices.  Remember that any reviews could possibly be influenced and have common interest in the places they are reviewing.  Take everything you learn with a grain of salt and remember that your gut instinct is always something to pay attention to, if the price is too low or the deal too easy that may be a red flag.

Talk to an expert.

Many times the primary care doctors of elderly patients can be a fantastic resource to find nursing homes and care facilities.  Most doctors have been in exactly your shoes and know the stresses and worries associated with finding credible, safe facilities.  Although financial limitations may unavoidably affect your choice, talking to experts and as many people as you can will help give you perspective and direction in your search.

Pick one willing to go the extra mile to work with you.

A facility going out of its way to communicate and make certain your questions are answered may be a sign that they will go the extra mile for the patients they care for as well.  Always beware of the difference between someone trying to inform you versus someone trying to convince you.  In most cases the latter may be betrayed after multiple subsequent visits reveal a waning effort in communication.  Be savvy and don’t expect to find the best facility overnight.  These are important decisions and with time they will become more fully illuminated so that you can make the best decision.

This post was contributed by Karen Sampson, who writes about the masters of public health in USA. She welcomes your feedback at Karen.Sampson1120 at gmail.com 

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