When comparing senior living communities, the culmination of the research is often the onsite tour. To make the most of a senior living community tour, be prepared to ask questions that reveal the most about the community, the staff, the services and every other aspect of importance to the decision-making process. Here’s a list of the 10 most basic questions to ask:
- Ask about the professional staff: The more care needed, the greater the importance of competent professional staff who are available 24/7. Ask about the ratio of professionals to residents for the level of care required by state law for the facility. Also ask if all care staff members are trained and licensed or certified to provide that care.
- Ask about personal care: Some residents may only need help with bathing while others may require assistance with more such as dressing, getting to the dining room, or taking medications on time. Similarly, different senior care communities present service plans in different ways so finding out ahead of time which services are included and which are ala carte will help in decision making.
- Ask about customizing/changing services: Service plans available should be customizable to meet the health and care needs of each resident. Also ask if, in the event the needs of a resident change or are reassessed, will a new service plan be created and implemented in a short period of time? Sometimes changes occur that cannot wait (such as help with medications) so knowing how quickly additional help can be provided is essential to a fair comparison of communities.
- Ask about security and safety: Security and safety are essential to every senior’s well-being, but more so for those with memory concerns. Ask the guide to explain all the features available to meet residents’ various safety and security needs within rooms and throughout the facility.
- Ask about laundry and housekeeping: As the tour progresses, ask how often laundry and cleaning are provided. Some people prefer to have family handle their laundry while others take advantage of the onsite service. For those with special cleaning or laundry preferences, now is a good time to address them in case there are any added costs.
- Ask about activities: One of the best aspects of senior living communities is the many opportunities to enjoy activities, take part in classes or join an exercise group. Ask what’s available, how often, and if you can look at a current activities calendar.
- Ask what a normal day is like: Ask your guide what a normal daily schedule includes, but also try to speak with a resident to get the view of someone who actually lives there. Don’t be shy about asking their overall opinion of the community and what they do or do not like about it.
- Ask if socialization is encouraged: For those who can benefit from increased socialization, many senior living communities offer activities and programs designed to do just that. Socialization can help improve memory, overall health and quality of life, but can be a struggle for those with memory concerns. Communities that encourage and assist in socialization and relationship building may be the best choice for memory care residents.
- Ask about different living space options: Privacy is a big concern to many seniors considering a move so be sure to ask about available room or apartment options. There may also be a waiting list for certain types of living spaces so find out ahead if timing is crucial.
- 1Ask about costs: Part of every serious senior living community tour should be a detailed cost overview. It’s important to know exactly what the costs are for each level of care and what is included or not included. Also, compare costs for different types of rooms or apartments to determine which is best when compared with other communities.
Before you begin touring senior living communities, download our “Family Decision Toolkit: How to choose the right senior living community,” offering a wealth of information and a tour comparison table to help you make the most of each tour.