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Caring for aging loved ones isn’t easy. Although you may or may not be physically caring for your loved one, coordinating doctor visits and medication pick-ups, as well as being an active part of choosing a long-term care community are important tasks that contribute to the health of your loved one. If you are searching for a long-term care community, you may feel extra pressure to find the perfect fit. Most importantly, you want to find a senior living option that provides your loved one with a safe and comfortable community.

As you research the available options, make sure to look beyond the typical checklists you may find online. While staff ratio and nurse qualifications are certainly important, also consider these two key criteria to identify the ideal community for your loved one.

Engaged and Caring Staff

One of the easiest ways to determine the level of care in a senior living community is to sit in the lobby or living room area and watch the staff interact with residents. Grab a cup of coffee and simply note what happens around you. Are the staff members genuinely interested in having a meaningful conversation with residents, or are they chatting among themselves instead? Do the staff members make eye contact and bend down to be at eye level with residents while talking? Are the staff members singing, dancing, or laughing with residents? Do the staff members seem like family members to the residents?

Engaged staff members are going to know the residents' names and the names of people important to the residents. They will use individual approaches with residents and be flexible when a chosen tactic isn’t getting positive results. Engaged staff smile easily with residents and don’t seem confrontational or angry during interactions. As engaged staff are the cornerstone of a senior facility, you can determine a lot about the culture of a long-term care community simply by watching staff interactions with residents.

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Energy and Excitement

Long-term care communities shouldn’t feel drab and clinical. Instead, they should be hubs of energy that foster a vibrant lifestyle. Look for an activity calendar that offers a variety of learning opportunities, trips, exercise classes, spiritual opportunities, and more. Families and friends should be invited to participate in the life of the community as well.

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Gourmet, yet Accessible, Dining

Seniors come to senior living with specific nutritional needs and preferences unique to their situation and condition. The dining experience in a long-term care community should not remind you of a cafeteria. Instead, observe whether the dining room is the heart of the community, where friends come to eat and to catch up with one another. The dining room should feel lively without being overstimulating and be full of chatting residents. Moreover, is the food offered should be appetizing and delicious? Most importantly, do residents always have opportunities to express their choice and preferences?

Making the Right Choice

All senior communities offer the basics: good care, trained staff, activities, and dining opportunities. However, when it comes to selecting a truly exceptional community, look for more than the basics. Seek out engaged staff members who feel like a part of the family, activities that make for a vibrant community, and a dining experience that encourages friendships. Search for a safe, comfortable, and engaging community, and you and your aging loved one won’t regret it.

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