Moving into an assisted living facility is a big decision. Whether you are shopping for accommodations for yourself in senior years or helping loved ones find a place in which they can get the care that they need, there are many considerations to take into account. Switching from home living to assisted care is a significant financial investment and a total lifestyle change at once. It involves giving up a home and the responsibilities that come with it, and simultaneously putting those responsibilities in the hands of others. Knowing what to look for in an assisted living facility will help make the transition a healthy and positive one.

First of all, look for cleanliness. A clean assisted living facility is more than just a pretty facade. Take a very good look at all of the living areas. Inspect the restrooms and common areas very closely, and if you find that they are not as well maintained as they should be, start looking elsewhere. Things like stained furniture, poorly painted doors and messy eating areas should all be immediate red flags. If you notice any hint of an unpleasant smell, cross that community off your list right away. Unpleasant odors mean that living areas are not being properly maintained and residents are not receiving the care they deserve.

Ask questions about the staff. Most assisted living facilities have a nurse in the building all day long, but some may not have nurses immediately available around the clock. Some facilities may say that a nurse is available at all hours, but this is not the same as a nurse on-site at all hours. Decide whether or not you feel okay about having to rely on nurses on-call during night hours. Having a nurse on-site can be a life saver in emergency situations, should they ever arise.

Look for the amount of caregivers with regards to residents. It doesn’t matter much what the total amount of staff on-site is at any given time, because the kitchen staff, housekeeping, and any other employees are essentially irrelevant to actual resident care. Find out how many dedicated caregivers are on staff, and find out about their qualifications as well. Ask about employee training programs, competency tests, and experience. An incompetent care staff is not much better than no staff at all. You’re paying a lot of money to these people and you should be able to have peace of mind and a feeling of safety and security in return.

Finally, and this is certainly not the least concern, look at the residents themselves. Do they appear to be happy and healthy, or are they bored, restless and frustrated? The most expensive Illinois assisted living center with the best credentials and most experienced staff may still have problems in other areas, such as keeping residents happy. In the end, this is truly one of the deciding factors in choosing an assisted living facility. If the residents are unhappy, nothing else can really improve the situation.