Deciding to move into a Senior Living Community or even simply considering this transition can often feel daunting. It doesn’t have to though if you take a few moments to be prepared.
We have found that our residents and family members that asked us the most questions, had the easiest transitions.
Our advice to you is: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is one of the most important decisions of your life whether for you or your loved one. A good community will welcome each and every one of your questions and go above and beyond to provide answers to satisfy each inquiry.
It is vitally important to understand your needs and desires and then communicate them thoroughly in order to choose the right location and/or make this decision.
Below is a list of more than 100 questions you can use to help guide you during this process:
- How much privacy do residents have?
- What are the floor plans and measurements of available rooms or apartments?
- What personal items or furniture are we allowed to bring?
- Are any items forbidden?
- Are pets allowed? If so, are there size or breed restrictions?
- What is the activity/traffic and noise level that can be expected?
- Are there any restrictions or limitations on guests?
Amenities and Location:
- What are the grounds like?
- Are there physical fitness facilities?
- Is there a pool and/or hot tub?
- Is laundry included?
- What makes you different than other communities?
- What outdoor amenities and spaces do you offer?
- Do you offer concierge services?
- Is the community located in a desirable area with conveniences nearby (grocery stores, pharmacy, public transit, hospitals, etc.)?
- Do residents have access to computers and printers?
- What activities do you offer?
- Can we see a typical calendar of events?
- Do you offer events out in the wider community as well as within the community?
- Is there an opportunity for volunteer or service work?
- Is there an opportunity for my loved one to teach other residents a favorite skill?
- Do residents have to meet any requirements to participate in activities or are there conditions that disqualify participation?
- Can we sit in on or view some of the activities during our tour?
- Can residents organize or suggest new activities?
- Do you offer community-based transportation to medical appointments?
- Do you offer transportation to community events and activities, such as restaurants and theaters?
- Is there a radius or defined route for available transportation?
- Is transportation always available or only on specific days?
- Are there any additional fees associated with transportation?
- How far in advance does transportation need to be scheduled?
- Can I bring my own car?
- Do you offer valet services?
- What are the parking options if I bring my own car?
- How do you ensure the safety of residents?
- How do residents access the buildings?
- How do visitors access the building?
- Do residents have access to alert buttons for emergency service?
- Do these buttons pinpoint location?
- Do the rooms/apartments have safety features like handrails, easy entry bathtubs, grip bars, or non-slip surfaces?
- How do you ensure residents are present and accounted for?
- Do you have an emergency response plan in place?
- Do you conduct periodic safety drills (i.e, fire drills) to acclimate residents to procedures?
- How do you handle power outages? Is there a generator?
- Can we request safety checks?
Issues and complaints:
- How does the community handle concerns and feedback?
- Do you have a specific staff member or advisory board that handles issues and complaints?
- What is the procedure or timeline for follow up on a complaint?
- How do you ensure timely communication on reported issues?
- How should issues or complaints be submitted?
- Does the community have a resident counsel that assists with issues and/or complaints?
References, testimonials, and reviews:
- Do you have any case studies, testimonials or reviews from staff and residents that we can access?
- Can we speak to the family members of some current or former residents who can provide references?
- Can we speak with current residents or staff during our tour privately?
- What background checks are performed on your staff?
- What is your staff-to-resident ratio?
- What kind of / how much experience, training or credentials do you require?
- Do you require your staff to obtain continuing education?
- What sort of staff meetings and communication exists to keep staff up to date on important developments?
- How many staff are present overnight?
- Who will interact with and care for my loved one on a daily basis?
- Do you offer all-day dining, or only during specific hours?
- What sort of menu options are available?
- Do you offer options for meals based on personal preference?
- How do you ensure residents are receiving proper nutrition?
- Do you offer special dietary options for those with medical needs or restrictions?
- Do you have a dietitian or nutritionist on staff?
- Is room service available?
- Can we try a sample of the typical menu on our tour?
- How often are menus change or new food items added?
- Is there a written care plan?
- How often are care plans reviewed?
- How do you handle emergency medical needs?
- Do you do health or cognitive assessment prior to move in?
- What medical care is available on site?
- Does on-site medical care differ from day to night?
- What sort of therapy options do you offer?
- Can we have outside professionals come to the community to provide care or therapy?
- Does the community have a physician that visits on site for resident wellness checks and/or visits residents in their apartments?
- What medical or cognitive conditions can this community manage?
- Are their conditions you cannot manage that may require us switching communities in the future?
- What activities of daily living can you help with?
- Can you assist with medication management and administration?
- How do you monitor the ongoing medical conditions of residents?
- Can residents keep prescription or over-the-counter medications in their room, or must they be administered by staff?
- What medical professionals are on staff? Physician? Nurse? Social Worker? Therapists?
- What sort of medical and cognitive conditions do current residents have?
- Can I continue to use the doctors or providers we currently have relationships with?
- What if we temporarily need a higher level of care than normal?
- Do you provide palliative, end-of-life or hospice care options?
- If there is a prolonged medical emergency or illness that requires leaving the facility, how long can the room be held?
Finances and Move-in:
- Is there a waitlist?
- Do you offer any assistance with move-in?
- What is the base price of applicable room options each month or year?
- How much care is included in the base price and how much are additional care options and charges?
- What amenities and activities are included in this fee?
- What utilities are included in this fee (wifi, electric, etc)?
- How are fees paid?
- Do you send payment reminders?
- How long are current costs guaranteed?
- Do you have any set annual increases?
- Are all amenities included, or do some involve an additional fee?
- What happens if fees are delinquent?
- What is the difference in fees if we need to move to a different level of care?
- What happens if we are unable to pay? How much of a grace period is available?
- Can I view a copy of the contract?
- Are there any upfront move-in fees or security deposits?
- What is the length of the lease or resident agreement?
- What if we need to move out before this agreement is complete?
- Are any feels refundable if you decide the community is not a fit?
Communication and transitions:
- How do you communicate with families?
- Do you have a community calendar we can access?
- Do you have a Facebook page, message board or another way for families to connect and stay up to date?
- Do you send regular email correspondence with up to date news?
- How do you help new residents have a positive transition into the community?
- Do you provide a welcoming committee or a way for new residents to connect with other residents?
- Is there a new resident/family orientation?
- Can we meet with all of our loved ones’ care providers before the move in? On a regular basis after move in?
- Can we be involved in the creation of the care plan?
Once you do your research, ask the right questions and go for a tour, you will have the piece of mind of knowing you making an educated and well thought out decision. You will also be able to trust your gut.
You will know and feel it if you can see your loved ones living happily there. If a community looks great on paper but doesn't feel like the right fit for you and your loved ones, it’s probably not the right fit.
We take tremendous pride in our caring Senior Living Counselors and the support they provide future residents, their family members and the greater community in navigating this journey.