The best advice I can give you about assisted living

A good friend of mine emailed me last week to ask for advice. She and her husband were making the assisted living decision for his father, and had narrowed the field down to three options, each of which they liked for different reasons.

"How should we decide?" she wrote. "What do you think is most important?"

Having personally made a bad decision about my mother's care, and then quickly rectifying that and making a good decision, I didn't hesitate. This is what I replied:

The best advice I can give you is to revisit each community, then wander around and talk to the care associates and nurses. The staff is the most important factor in the experience. Not the executive staff — administration and marketing, which are the people you will meet on your initial visit — but the people who will actually be caring for your father-in-law. Look for care associates who are engaging with the residents, not just sitting around waiting to be told to do something. Find out about the number of care associates on duty during the day and especially at night when there’s no family or visitors around.

It's the people who care that make the difference.