Assessing Value When Moving to Assisted Living or Memory Support

By Joe DeCarlo, Director of Sales and Marketing

The Cabana at Jensen Dunes

Assisted Living and Memory Support

Moving to an assisted living or memory support community is a major life decision where many factors come into play: location, price, staff, levels of care, programs and activities … to name but a few. And whether you’re making the choice for yourself or for a loved one, the process can be daunting.

When families visit The Cabana at Jensen Dunes to see if our community is right for them, I first encourage them to compare us to other facilities. Then I stress the importance of value: What services and benefits are they getting for their dollar? Here at The Cabana, we offer affordable, comprehensive assisted living and memory support that is anchored in an innovative and holistic, mind-body-spirit approach. Our attitude about aging makes us different and delivers exceptional value to our residents and families.

Sometimes, though, it’s hard to identify the “intangibles” in a particular community – so you have to keep your antennae up. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind:

  • Do your homework – and legwork. Nothing you can find out online is a substitute for being there in person. Pay multiple visits to the community. Carefully observe the activity level. Are people up and around? Enjoying each other’s company? Or are they in their rooms just watching television? Make sure the community offers stimulating programs that keep residents engaged and involved. Even more important: Are they having fun?
  • Gauge the “atmospherics.” What does the look and feel of the community say about its philosophy? Forward-thinking and creative? Or stuck in the past? I’m always proud to show off The Cabana, because from a structural and design perspective, it is so innovative. We have a pool and outdoor grill, cocktail bar and fitness center. We have high ceilings and lots of natural light. You’ll see the difference the minute you walk in the door.
  • Share a meal. If you visit during lunch or dinner and get an offer to dine at the community, say yes. (And if you don’t get invited, ask.) Make sure the meals are well balanced, taste good and are attractively presented. Ask about dining hours. Are they fixed or flexible? According to Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, make sure the facility is responding to individual residents’ needs – not forcing them into a fixed routine. Along those lines, at The Cabana, we have an “open dining room” concept where our residents can eat whatever meal they choose. Breakfast for dinner, anyone?
  • Assess the “personality” of the community. What “vibe” do you get when you tour the facility? Friendly, warm, comfortable and welcoming? Or formal, stuffy and “institutional”? Are staff members and staff smiling? Is there a “sense of belonging?” Is it happy?
  • Talk to family members. If you began your search online and followed up with in-person visits, then conclude it with a final dose of due diligence. Request names of people you can talk to – not only to get their opinions about the community you’re considering, but also to ask about the assisted living/memory support “experience” in general. It’s comforting to hear from folks who have “been there.” It helps to know you’re not alone and that others share your journey.