Touring an assisted living community is the best way to assess whether or not it is a good fit for you or an older loved one. Meeting the staff and residents, viewing the surroundings and getting a feel for what life is like there are all keys to good decision making.
Touring an assisted living community is also the best time to get answers to questions so different communities can be compared on a level playing field. Before touring an assisted living community consider the following things to look for and helpful questions to ask.
What to look for and questions to ask when touring an assisted living community
Just as you would when searching for any new home, look at how well maintained the outside property is before you go inside. Are gardens weeded and lawns mowed? Is the building in good repair? Are parking and driving areas free of potholes? Is the overall look of the community appealing?
When touring an assisted living community keep in mind that first impressions do matter, and what you see outside is a good indication of what is within.
One of the most important aspects to cover when touring an assisted living community is housing. Be sure to visit all the housing options available and compare floorplans. Observe how bright, clean and comfortable each is, whether appliances are modern, and check for accessibility and safety features like lever handles on doors and faucets, grab bars and walk-in showers. This is also a good time to ask important questions like:
- What is included (utilities, maintenance and repairs, etc.)?
- Are residents allowed to decorate their apartments?
- Are housekeeping and/or laundry provided or extra?
- Are apartments private?
Types of care provided
Care is another essential element to consider when touring an assisted living community. Today’s best assisted living communities will assess care needs and be prepared to increase or reduce the amount of care provided as needed. Whether care means a little help dressing and bathing or includes medication management, or assistance with mobility on and off campus, it’s important to know that what is needed will be provided. Another essential aspect is whether residents can move to a higher level of care, such as to memory care without having to move again. To best understand what modern assisted living communities have to offer check out our blog, “More Like ‘Home:’ Today’s Assisted Living Options Are Much Different than Traditional Nursing Homes,” and ask these questions:
- How and how often are care needs assessed and is there a written care plan?
- Are residents able to move quickly to a higher level of care within the community?
- How are medications managed?
- Are therapy services available onsite?
- How are medical emergencies handled?
Dining and nutrition
Touring an assisted living community also provides the opportunity to share a meal with the residents and sample the day’s cuisine. Top assisted living communities like The Lodge at Stephens Lake have raised the bar considerably and now offer chef-prepared meals that are not only nutritious but rival the best restaurants for taste and appeal. Residents with special dietary restrictions can also expect to receive wonderful meals tailored to their needs.
While enjoying a lunch or dinner be sure to ask these questions:
- Do residents have choices at each meal?
- Can meals be taken in residents’ apartments?
- Are dining options like bistros or cafes available?
- Can families enjoy a meal together privately?
For an overview of why nutrition is so important for seniors check out the health.gov article, “Nutrition as We Age: Healthy Eating with the Dietary Guidelines.”
One of the best aspects of touring an assisted living community is that it provides a look at all the healthy, entertaining and enriching things to do every day. Unlike living at home, residents can easily participate in activities like exercise or cooking classes, take in a movie or have their hair cut or styled right onsite. Other options include pursuing hobbies alone or in a club, joining off-site excursions to local venues like museums or festivals, volunteering, or just strolling the well-manicured grounds and enjoying nature. For a complete picture of how amenities can really make life great, read our blog, “Sneak Peek: See How Senior Living Residents Spend Their Day,” and ask the following questions:
- Can exercise be tailored to individual needs?
- Are there daily planned activities and events?
- Can family members join in the fun?
- Is transportation available?
- How are safety and security provided?