As you begin the search for an assisted living community for your aging loved one, you will find that these communities come in all shapes and sizes, which may or may not suit you and your loved one’s goals.
Therefore, the first thing you need to consider is the needs of your loved one and how they might change in a month, three months or even a year from now. Ask each provider how he or she might accommodate these changing needs as time rolls on.
For a comprehensive list of questions to ask when evaluating an assisted living community, download our free ebook, “The Essential Guide to Touring an Assisted Living Community.” To take a quick look at some important things to consider, check out our questions below.
Environment of Assisted Living
Understanding the environment at each assisted living community will help you identify how warm and inviting the staff is and whether your aging parent will feel comfortable and welcomed at that community. Unfortunately, not every community is the same. It’s all about finding the right place, one that fits the needs of your loved one.
When touring an assisted living community, ask yourself these questions:
- Having arrived at the community, do you immediately like its location and outward appearance?
- Do you receive a warm greeting from staff inviting you into the community?As you enter the lobby and tour the community, is the décor likable and homelike?
- Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable?
- Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the community and staff?
- Are staff members courteous, appropriately dressed and professional?
- Do residents seem like appropriate long term housemates?
Design Features of Assisted Living
The design and layout is also important especially for safety reasons. But as your aging parent grows older, wide open spaces, ramps and elevators might need to be included in the layout of their new “home.”
When touring a community, you should be thinking about the future. Down the road, your parent may need a walker or wheelchair to get around. The floor plans of each facility should also fit those needs.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are the floor plans designed with wide open spaces, ramps, handrails and elevators to make moving about convenient?
- Is the floor plan simple to follow?
- Are bathrooms private and designed to accommodate wheelchairs?
- Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?
- Are floors non-skid and carpets firm for ease of walking?
- Does the community have good natural lighting and artificial lighting?
- Are there clearly marked emergency exits, fire detectors and sprinkler systems installed?
- Is there an emergency call system in place within the apartments?
- Does the community offer different sizes and types of apartments? Do they have
- private, lockable doors?
Assisted Living Services
- Does the community have policies that assist with medication and its storage? Does it coordinate homecare visits from nurses, therapists and physicians, where needed?
- Does the community provide geriatric physician and/or psychiatric services, and mobile lab services on site?
- Is staff available throughout the day to assist with activities of daily living (ADLs)?
- May the resident request special dietary meals?
- Is there a policy for reporting suspected elder abuse?
- Are there policy documents available for reading that explain personal care plans, service costs, refunds and transfers?
- Are there helpful programs, government, private or corporate, available to residents to alleviate costs?
Amenities and Activities at Assisted Living
Many families are often curious about what is included in the monthly rental of an apartment and what the lifestyle is like at the community. Many older adults don’t want to spend all day sitting alone in their apartments. They want to continue with their life by participating in social activities and meeting new friends.
When touring an assisted living community, here are some questions you may not think to ask:
- Does the community provide housekeeping services in personal living spaces?
- Can residents arrange for transportation to shopping malls and appointments?
- Do all apartments have a telephone, cable TV and internet access?
- Are there daily scheduled social activities and events posted that allow you to plan your involvement?
- What health and fitness activities are offered as part of the monthly rent?
- Does the community have its own pets? Does it allow residents with pets? Who is responsible for their care?
- Is there constant security on the premises?
- Does the community allow a loved one to spend the night? Is there a charge?
These questions will help you determine if a particular community is right for you or your loved one. And for added peace of mind, ask whether the community is a member of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) which is committed to excellence in senior care. Inquire about whether the community has won any recent awards and ask about the mission, vision, and values of the community. A local not-for-profit community may have a philosophy of care that is unique from that of a for-profit community, so be sure to dig up that information when taking a tour as well.