Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

5 Things to Look For in Long-term Care

        Health | Elder Care

Your First Impression
Do you see happy scenes like this one when you walk around the facility?
Do you see happy scenes like this one when you walk around the facility?
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Feel free to trust your first impression when you walk into the doors of a long-term care facility. Use all your senses -- does the place smell pleasant, or is there an industrial or unpleasant odor in the air? Is it well-lit and pleasingly decorated? Is there a television blaring, serving as a babysitter for residents, or are there spaces for quiet and for conversation?

As you walk through the facility, you should get a sense that this is a home, not an institution. It's important to see the rooms to determine if the layout, lighting and sense of security are adequate. Privacy is important to many people, so find out if there are single rooms or if sharing will be required. Do residents live in long, anonymous rows of rooms, or are they grouped into small households or living units? Will there be opportunities for residents to make their spaces their own, such as bringing in their own furniture and decoration? What rules regarding noise and visiting are in place?

While people tend to focus on their own rooms, take time to visit common areas as well. You might inquire if there are outside areas where residents congregate, or in which activity rooms residents tend to spend a lot of time. Evaluate these areas for homeyness and cleanliness.

You'll also want to get a sense of the eating facilities -- more information on that can be found on the next page.