Questions to ask, and things to observe when you visit a senior living community.
Choosing a new home is not an easy decision, and it’s wise to visit a few communities. Visit not just once but visit a few times. Schedule a formal tour, but we also recommend you pop in for a visit unannounced to observe. It’s a good idea to visit at different times of the day as well. This allows you to see how schedules are run, the community’s cleanliness, and how well-organized the activities. If you visit during mealtime, you’ll see how the dining flows. Equally important is getting a feel of the mood of the residents.
What to watch for:
Friendliness of the community. When you walk through the doors, what is your initial reaction? Do you feel welcomed? Do the staff and residents smile and look at ease? You also want to see how residents are interacting with one another and with the employees.
Additionally, view how employees interact with one another. Look for laughter, friendliness and a general sense of well-being. Also, chat with the residents. They can offer a wealth of information and first-hand experience. Remember, it’s often our first impressions that tell us the most.
Features of the apartment or homes. Tour the living areas available, whether it’s a home, condo, apartment or assisted living space. Is the layout, floor plan and square footage what you need? If available, study the floor plans after your visit to help with your comparison. Also, ensure your potential new home is in excellent condition (carpet, paint, appliances, cupboards, closets and windows).
It’s always a good idea to make a wish-list for what you want in a home before you visit. Then match your needs with what you see. You may be interested in independent living only, but critique the assisted living, and skilled nursing care options as well, so you know what is available and can prepare for any eventuality. Many individuals want the peace of mind that all their needs can be taken care of at one community.
Cleanliness and upkeep. Examine the community’s grounds, parking lot and sidewalks. Outside, is the landscaping appealing? Is the ground clean of debris and litter? Are the walkways and walking areas in good condition and easy to traverse? Is the parking lot free of potholes?
Inside, examine the common areas. Are the floors clean, carpets vacuumed and tables clutter-free? Is the décor welcoming? Notices the sights, sounds and smells throughout. Always ask questions if something doesn’t feel right.
Finally, find out about security measures (gates, monitoring, security measures) and if there are concerns to be aware of.
Social activities, amenities and events. An enjoyable life includes access to the activities and hobbies you love or are interested in. When visiting a community, observe the enrichment areas, such as class areas and workout rooms. Look at the calendar and see which activities look most appealing. Ask which are most popular, and how the community plans for future events.
Food and dining options. Never underestimate the importance of tasty, fresh and interesting food selections, an extensive menu, and good home cooking. Ask how frequently menu selections are revised, and what happens if you have a special dietary request. Breaking bread with one another is an essential social activity. Sit down and eat a meal with the residents. You can see the food’s presentation – and how it tastes! Being part of mealtime will show you a lot of what a community is about.