Unlike their parents and grandparents, the current generation of baby boomers certainly has their choice when it comes to selecting a senior living community. However, navigating the plethora of options can be overwhelming and exhausting. Older adults need to take the time to tour potential facilities before signing a contract.
Tours are an excellent way for older adults to get a sense of the environment of the community. It provides them a glimpse into the life of the community beyond just the physical space. If possible, schedule a tour during the weekday, when more activities are likely to take place. Weekends are generally quieter in the senior living community realm, as weekends are usually less staffed than throughout the week. It’s also important to come prepared so that you leave having a better sense of the community.
If you are considering a move to a senior living community this year, here are six important questions to ask during your tour.
What’s a typical day like?
Start by asking what a typical day is like for residents. What sort of activities are offered? When and where do activities take place? How do I get involved? What committees are established? How often do residents go out to shop or for fun? Are there set mealtimes? What happens if I prefer to eat earlier or later? Am I expected to come to the dining room for each meal? Where do I sit—assigned or wherever I prefer? What’s on the menu? What if I can’t find anything I like on the menu? Ask to receive a copy of the current activity calendar, menu, fitness classes, and latest Resident Council minutes.
How do employees and residents interact?
Another great question to ask is how employees and residents interact regularly. As you tour, pay attention to how the employees treat the residents. How do employees address each resident—do they seem to know the residents, or are they reading information off a chart? How responsive are the staff to resident requests? How much input do residents have regarding activities, menu suggestions, and/or lifestyle decisions the administration may make? Ask about the average employee turnover rate, what the company is doing to lower that rate, and how long current management has been employed.
What’s the cost and how often do prices increase?
Most older adults know to ask about current prices when on a tour. However, not many think to ask about future costs down the road. What safeguards are in place to protect the resident’s current investment? How much notice are residents given should their monthly fee increase, and how often does an increase occur? If it’s a buy-in community, what happens if the company goes bankrupt? If it’s a continuous care community that can provide for all levels of care, what’s the price difference between each level, and is the price locked in once you sign a contract? Be sure you understand all aspects of the costs and get in writing anything the company offers you regarding monthly payments, fees, and such.
What is really included and what can I expect to pay out-of-pocket for regularly?
In addition to costs, it’s important you ask what’s really included in that monthly fee and what you are expected to pay out-of-pocket regularly. Are all meals included, or is there a meal plan you’re expected to pay for each month? What are the activity fees or transportation costs? Who pays for maintenance, and can you outsource it yourself? What fees are incurred if you need nursing assistance? What happens to your deposit should you need to move, and how much can a move cost you? Before you decide where to move, make sure you understand all the hidden fees. Communities that look affordable on paper may be just as pricey as a truly all-inclusive community once all the other costs are added.
What care can you accommodate and what does that mean should my care needs increase down the road?
It’s important to ask what sort of care the community can provide. Strictly independent living communities cannot accommodate skilled level nursing care. This means that you may need to move again should your needs change down the road. Assisted living communities vary in what care they can provide, so ask about your specific care needs. Some communities welcome residents to hire in-home care, but this may come with an additional fee. If you’re looking at a continuous care community, it’s important to understand who determines when you need to progress to the next level of care. If you’re married, ask what happens if one spouse needs memory care or skilled care, and the other remains independent—can you move together?
Do you offer trial stays?
Finally, before you decide, ask if the community offers trial stays. This is a great way to get a real sense of the community. Ask if you can stay a week or for a long weekend. Most communities can offer respite stays, meaning they have furnished apartments or rooms for temporary guests. During your stay, get out of your room and interact with other residents. Participate in activities, eat in the dining room, spend downtime in the common spaces. This is your opportunity to see the real environment and determine if you would like to call it your new home.
As you begin your journey into senior living, start with Senior Living Solutions. Our mission is to relieve the stress and ease the burden of finding the best senior living options for our clients. We are familiar with what is available in the local area. We have already done all the work touring, interviewing, and vetting senior living communities of all varieties. We can point you in the right direction so you can have confidence knowing the communities you choose to tour will meet your care needs. We do this for free, so why not take us along for the journey? Contact us today by calling 501-650-3013 to schedule an appointment today.