Looking for a senior living community is a wise move for seniors entering a new stage of life. Living among your peers in a safe, fulfilling environment brings a renewed sense of hope for an exciting, vibrant future full of new friends and activities.
The key to achieving this is to find the right senior living community for your loved one.
Reading senior living websites and brochures are great ways to create a shortlist of candidate communities. However, these marketing materials are designed to show the community and living spaces in the best possible light. To make the best assessment possible, it's essential that you visit the space for an in-person tour and have an in-depth conversation with a senior living representative.
These meetings provide the perfect opportunity to ask any questions you have about the facility. If you're not sure what to ask, here are eight questions that will help you and your family make the most informed decision possible.
1. What are the apartments like?
Remember when you were shopping for your first house? Every structure you looked at had walls and a roof. However, you just knew when you found the right one because it felt like home - and that was the one you bought.
The same philosophy applies with senior living. You want more than an apartment for your loved one. You want them to feel they're in a safe, secure living space they can call their own.
So, inquiries about the living quarters should be first and foremost. Ask about any decorating restrictions, the level of privacy the resident can expect, and when they can accept visitors.
Another important aspect of senior living accommodations is how much room they'll have for meaningful personal effects that will make the transition easier. Can they bring a favourite easy chair, dresser, or night table?
Looking at floor plans for various size suites and the units themselves can help you visualize how your loved one can make their suite a place they can call home.
2. Which services and utilities are included in the rent?
Does the rent cover all the services and utilities the senior will need? Make sure to find out if utilities, and water are billed separately from the rent, so there are no surprises down the road.
Cable television, phones, and emergency call systems may cost extra as well.
The Internet is essential to seniors who want to connect with family and the outside world. Is Wi-Fi also included in the rent, and if so, is it a dedicated connection, or is it shared with other residents, visitors, and staff?
Also, find out if the rent includes housekeeping and laundry services, and how often these services are provided.
3. Are activities fully accessible?
Moving into a senior community doesn't mean people should sit idle – they need to have fun! However, many seniors may have accessibility issues and public health concerns that might limit their participation and affect their overall well-being.
It's a great idea to ask about physical and social activities based on your loved one’s interests and find out how accommodating the activities are regarding accessibility and health.
Since not all seniors drive or own a car, inquire if transportation is available to access offsite places of interest, such as movie theatres, casinos, museums, and senior centers.
4. What safety measures are in place for residents?
Safety is a chief concern for senior living, both inside the unit and outside within the community. There are several questions about safety you should ask, such as:
- Is medical assistance available within the community 24/7?
- Are there emergency alert buttons or pull cords easily accessible in the units, and they provide the resident's location for a faster response from staff?
- Is there a procedure in place that ensures all residents are secure and accounted for?
- What kind of response protocols are in place in the event of a virus outbreak?
- Is an emergency response plan in place to keep the residents safe in a dangerous or life-threatening situation?
- Is there a backup generator in the event of a power failure?
- Are grab bars, rails, and non-slip surfaces installed in the bathrooms?
5. What kind of food choices do you offer?
A healthy, diverse menu is crucial for people in senior communities. However, menus also need to accommodate many dietary restrictions. For example, some residents might be on a strict low-sodium diet. There may also be people who prefer not to eat animal products or by-products. Others have severe food allergies or religious requirements that restrict what they can consume. If the senior in your life has special dietary needs, make sure the community is willing to meet them.
Also, how flexible are the dining hours? Does everyone dine together in the same hall at a set time, or are there multiple venues that offer dining options whenever someone is hungry? Can visitors also use the dining facilities if they want to eat with their families?
Ask if a nutritionist is on-site or whether the community's kitchen staff can coordinate with your health specialist to put together a customized menu for your loved one.
6. Will my loved one's medical needs be met?
Many people move to assisted living because living independently at home has become a challenge. They may also need ongoing medical care for specific medical conditions, including degenerative diseases such as dementia.
Be sure to ask how the community's medical team supports residents' individual healthcare needs, what types of physical and cognitive therapy are offered, and if medical services and support are available 24/7.
Medication management is also essential to proper medical care. Find out if the person can self-administer prescription and over-the-counter medicine independently or if a staff member must administer them.
The older adult’s medical needs will change over time. Ask if staff will help monitor changing conditions and adjust the person's medical routines accordingly.
7. What training and qualifications does your team have?
It's important to your family to have the best trained and most qualified people engaging with and caring for your elderly loved one. Don't be too shy to ask about the background checks, training, and qualifications of healthcare workers, therapists, and all staff who will be interacting with your family member on a regular basis.
Inquire if employees undergo continuing education to sharpen and upgrade their skills and hold regular team meetings to discuss and proactively solve issues.
8. Can you provide references?
This question is perhaps the most important of all. Senior living communities can be beautiful places to live, but – in reality – they are also for-profit businesses. Empty units don't make money, so community representatives might say anything to get your loved one moved in.
Online testimonials can be handy to verify what living in the community is like, but asking for references will truly demonstrate that you're serious about where you place your elderly relative.
Call the references and ask them for details about the community. Some people might have small areas of dissatisfaction, but be sure to pay attention to any big red flags such as neglect, suspicions of abuse, inadequate health care, substandard food, and other significant areas of concern.
Then ask yourself: would you live there when you're older? If the answer is no, move on to the next facility.
As you can see, there are many questions you could potentially ask – and you could probably add a lot more. Researching, contacting, and interviewing potential senior living communities requires time, energy, and effort and can lead to confusion and frustration without the proper guidance.
Get help with finding senior living communities in the Greater Cincinnati Area
When you need help choosing a senior living community, call Assisted Living Locators. We'll take the time to listen to your needs, research the best-fit communities, and even accompany you on the community visits. We'll ensure that all your questions and concerns are addressed and provide you with all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.
Our goal is to make sure your elderly loved ones find a community where they will be happy and thrive. Assisted Living Locators will make it happen. Contact us today to get started!