Retirement Community Warning Signs
I get asked all the time if there are things that someone should watch for during their visits to senior housing facilities. While some communities can hide poor management or bad staffing, it’s very likely that you’ll notice some signs if there are any. Here are the top things to watch for during your visit:
Foul odors. Bad smells are a bad sign, especially in assisted living or nursing. You should be concerned if you can clearly smell urine or feces. If it’s enough to make your stomach unsettled, there’s a good chance that you should leave.
Unhappy staff. Ultimately, a retirement community is only as good as its staff. Disgruntled worker can cause all sorts of problems, including stealing money or abusing residents. If the staff aren’t happy, then get out while you still can.
Empty apartments. It’s not always a warning sign, especially in new communities or during recessions. But, retirement communities that cannot keep their apartments full likely lose money. You don’t want to move in, only to have the place close six months later. If a facility has 50% vacancy, ask them why. If they are the only ones in town with that many vacant apartments, then you should do extra research to make sure that there aren’t problems or skip them entirely.
Lack of maintenance or attention to detail. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal to let the shutters go an extra year without being painted, delaying regular maintenance is a sign that management might be fine with waiting an extra day to bathe nursing home patients or brush their teeth. Do extra research before moving into a facility where the small items are not fixed in a timely manner.
I wish that I could say that every single retirement community in America was safe, but that’s simply not true. The truth is that consumers have to be wary of their senior housing choices. While I hope I’ve drawn attention to some typical problems, the best thing that you can do to stay safe is simply to pay attention to your gut feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable, then get out.