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  • Julie Katz

How to make sure someone in independent or assisted living is safe

When they don't let you in, how can you be sure.


If you have a relative who resides in an independent living facility, you have likely not been able to go to their apartment since March and you likely won't be able to go for the foreseeable future. What if you would go in on a regular basis to make sure that they didn't have food rotting in the refrigerator and that they changed their towels, or worse that they are not taking their medicine properly.



Is anyone really watching those little details that you would look out for? Probably not. The staff is stretched so thin because of COVID that they don't have time to worry about clean linens. While people living in independent living and assisted living may be given food and maybe even medicine, some of the seemingly smaller things slip through the cracks. What can you do?


  1. Ask your relative. You probably know them well enough to know when they are stalling. If you suspect that they are not doing something that decreases their quality of life, you need to reach out to the administrator, nurse or social worker and share your concerns.

  2. If they have an electronic devise, use Facetime or Zoom to and ask them to show you areas you are concerned about. Remember not to demean them, but remind them that they were never very concerned about the issue and you had to handle it.

  3. Ask the staff at the facility to go into their unit and check out your suspicions. If you have developed a good relationship with the staff prior to COVID, they should be willing to help you. Be patient though as it may take a few days.

  4. Hire a caregiver (like The Extra Daughter). The non-sense state rules that caregivers can enter a person's apartment but family cannot gives you the ability to have someone outside of the family enter the unit and investigate for you. They can also clean the fridge or remind someone to do laundry.

Another answer may just be acceptance. If your previously meticulous mother wears clothes two or three days in a row but is clean when you see her, you might need to let it go. We all have given up so much during this pandemic that good enough may have to substitute for perfection until further notice.

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