Selecting a senior living community is arguably one of life’s most important decisions. You’re not only choosing what kind of lifestyle you want today — you’re also deciding on the senior care environment you may need one day.
So in addition to understanding the types of contracts available and examining the costs, knowing what types of questions to ask when touring senior living facilities should definitely be part of your research.
Every senior living facility is unique, but there are common subject areas applicable to any community you visit. We’ve grouped questions under five main categories: residences, services and amenities, lifestyle, care, and references. Whether you’re looking for yourself or a family member, use these questions to ask when you’re ready to tour senior living facilities.
You’ll also find special bonus tips sprinkled throughout this list of questions to ask — these bonus tips can give you a more personal experience while you’re touring each senior living facility.
Senior living communities offer a range of living options, from apartments to duplexes to stand-alone homes with garages and basements. Consider what you’re looking for: Is lots of square footage important to you? Do you want private outdoor space, such as a patio, balcony or screened-in porch? The type of residence and its options may help you narrow down your list of communities to visit. Here are more questions to ask before or during your tour.
- What types of independent living residences do you have available?
- What’s the range of square footage and options?
- Do all residences have their own washer and dryer?
- Does every apartment offer an emergency response system? How are medical emergencies handled?
- What types of maintenance are covered as part of the monthly service fee?
- Do residents bring their own furniture with them, and if so, do you offer move-in assistance?
- Are utilities such as cable, internet, electric and telephone included as part of the monthly service fee?
- Are pets allowed and, if so, what types of amenities are available for them?
- Do you have a guest apartment for friends or family members to stay overnight? (Bonus tip:
Ask if you can spend a night or weekend at the community to “try before you buy.”)
Services and Amenities
- Is there an activities calendar and a director of life enrichment who plans events and programming?
- What types of wellness opportunities do you offer?
- What is the culinary experience like, and how do you cater to special diets? (Bonus tip: Ask to meet the community’s executive chef, and sit down for a meal to get an idea of the menu items, food quality and ingredients used.)
- What is the full list of services included as part of the monthly fee?
- How do the services and amenities change if a resident moves from independent living to higher levels of care like assisted living?
You want to choose a community where you can age successfully and where your passions and hobbies are supported. You’ll find evidence of this on the list of services and amenities, and on the community’s monthly activities calendar. But for a better idea of the lifestyle you’ll find, ask ask these questions during your tour:
- Do you offer scheduled transportation to doctor visits or to area attractions like shopping, special events?
- What examples of hospitality can you point to as the type of service that can be expected here?
- In what ways do you encourage and foster interests like volunteering, painting, gardening or travel?
As mentioned above, choosing a community with quality care is just as important as the lifestyle it offers. In addition to becoming familiar with types of communities and their contracts, you’ll want to ask questions about the levels and quality of care.
- What levels of care are available on-site? (Bonus tip: Ask to tour each level of care to get a better idea of the residences, dining and activities available.)
- Do residents receive priority access to these levels of care?
- What is the staff-to-resident ratio in assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing?
- Does the community require any staff members to have special training?
Ask if the community can connect you with other residents and their family members, even staff members, for testimonials. It’s one of the best ways to get an insider’s perspective about what life in the community is really like.
Ask current residents:
- What surprised you most about this community that you didn’t know before you became a resident?
- Are the staff members here friendly, and do they know you on a first-name basis?
- Do residents here socialize together frequently, and how would you describe the culture?
- What are your opinions about the leadership team and board of directors?
Ask family members:
- What do you think about the community?
- How does this community meet your family member’s wants, needs and interests?
- Have you noticed any positive changes in your family member as a result of living here?
Ask a staff member:
- How long have you worked here, and what do you enjoy about your job?
- What procedures are in places to keep residents safe during adverse weather events, power outages, etc.?
- Is there a suggestion or complaint process for residents and, if so, what is the process like?
Bonus Tip: Visit The Buckingham First
It might sound a bit self-serving, but we highly encourage you to plan your first community visit with us. We’re proud of the residences, lifestyle, services and amenities, and care we provide. And we’d be honored to show you around and answer every question you may have. If you’d like to schedule your personal tour, or if you have questions and would like to talk with a member of our team, contact us.