Tips for touring a senior living community
Choosing a senior living community for yourself or a loved one is a big decision, right up there with choosing a career and buying your first house. Like every life-changing decision, determining which community is right for you or your loved one is based on numerous considerations, including health care needs, finances and personal preferences.
While you can learn a lot about a community’s facilities, amenities, healthcare services and costs online or on the phone, that’s rarely enough to know whether a community will be the right fit.
Touring the community is the best way to decide whether it’s the right fit. Only by visiting can you get a firsthand look at whether the community meets important standards such as:
- Clean, comfortable, welcoming common spaces and individual living spaces
- Well-lit, easy-to-navigate hallways and bathrooms equipped with handrails and no-slip surfaces
- Friendly, accessible staff
- Residents who appear to be happy and healthy
The level of care or independence you or your loved one needs will be a starting point to help you determine which type of community is best.
People interested in moving into an independent living community have different needs and desires than those who require the care provided at an assisted living or memory care community, for example.
With that in mind, here are some tips to help you get the most out of senior living community tours.
Independent Living Communities
If you’re interested in an independent living community, you're probably looking for a place that allows for a relatively active lifestyle. That means different things to different people--some focus on staying physically active, while others prefer to focus on social or cultural activities, or a combination of both.
Here are some ways to help determine whether an independent living community is a good fit:
- Consider the surrounding area. Is the community in an area that offers the types of activities you enjoy? If you’re unfamiliar with the area, it’s a good idea to drive through town to see if there are shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and other nearby attractions that appeal to you. Another major consideration -- do you feel safe in this area?
- Ask about ease of access. If you’re an active person, you’ll want to be able to easily come and go as you please, and have your friends and family do the same. Make sure the facility is easy to access and ask staff about curfews for visitors.
- Check out the grounds and amenities. As an active senior, you’ll want to make sure the communities you tour have the facilities and amenities that are important to you. This might be a swimming pool, tennis court, or community gym. Or maybe you want to ensure there’s an on-site computer room or library, or a large communal room for hosting visiting loved ones or community events.
Assisted Living Communities
Choosing an assisted living community means you need a little extra help with daily activities such as dressing, bathing or toileting. So you’ll need to know if the staff and facilities can meet your or your loved one’s specific care needs. But you also need to know about the other offerings and amenities that will affect your quality of life. Here are some of the key things to look out for when touring an assisted living community:
- Gauge the quality of the staff. Staff members in assisted living communities get to know their residents intimately, so whether you’re happy with the staff is crucial. This includes staff members' training, experience and qualifications; the staff-to-resident ratio; and the staff's overall engagement with residents.
- Observe staff and resident interactions. As you tour the community, observe how staff and residents interact. No one likes to be stuck waiting around for someone to help them bathe, dress and get the day started, so you want to ensure that staff members are responsive and attentive. Look for residents who are engaged in activities and staff members who take action when needed.
- Amenities and Activities. Assisted living communities today offer a wide array of amenities and perks meant to create the best quality of life for residents and cater to their needs and interests. This can include anything from whether pets are allowed to amenities such as an on-site pool, library, gym, or social activities like game nights or arts and crafts sessions. Determine which amenities are the biggest priorities for you or your loved one and make a point to ask about them when you tour.
For more articles by Laura, visit www.Caring.com.
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