10 Nov, 2023

Assisted Living Checklist: Must-Ask Questions for a Successful Tour

Roughly 70% of people turning 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives. Choosing an assisted living community for a loved one seems an easy task, but a great deal of effort goes into it to avoid relocation, which can be costly and a key source of stress for older people. One essential part of facility visits is asking the right questions. Only through it will you get an answer as to whether the community suits your loved one's needs.

If you’re on a long-term care community hunt and feeling overwhelmed by all the choices available, here's a list of questions to remember to make the most of your assisted living tour.

Importance of Asking the Right Questions

Choosing an assisted living unit is more than just finding a new home for your loved one — you must ensure their next abode is comfortable and safe and makes them happy during their stay. After all, it's where they'll spend meaningful days, socialize with others, and receive the care they need. That's why asking the right questions is critical in getting the correct responses.

Doing so helps you gather essential information, effectively compare different communities, and make a decision that ensures peace of mind — both for you and your senior mom or dad.

Preparing for the Tour

If you're eyeing an assisted living community nearby, prepare an assisted living tour checklist containing your most pressing questions to avoid overlooking important information. But before your tour, you’ll have to know these two things.

The Needs of Your Loved One

Your loved one has their own needs and preferences you must consider. Before scheduling a home visit, make sure to have a conversation with them and identify what they value the most. Is it the scope of medical care available, the list of social activities, or the community's amenities? Knowing their priorities will help guide your questions and observations during the tour.

Research the Assisted Living Facility

Do a brief research on the facility beforehand. You’ll need this information when making care decisions. Look up the facility’s history, reputation, and family reviews. This background knowledge will give you a better idea about the company, helping you curate your questions.

Key Questions to Ask Before the Tour

Even before your assisted living tour, you can throw some questions to the community staff via their email or by calling them. You can gauge their responsiveness with this. Here are some key questions.

General Facility Information

  • How long has the facility been in operation?
    This question can help you assess the facility's stability, reputation, and experience in care provision.
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
    A critical aspect impacts the level of care and attention each resident receives.
  • Are they licensed and regulated?
    Ensures the facility meets state and federal standards for senior care. Otherwise, it can create problems for your family.

Staff Qualifications and Training

  • What qualifications do caregivers and staff members possess?
    The right qualifications are vital to providing high-quality care.
  • How often do staff members receive training?
    Regular training is essential for maintaining exceptional care services and staying up-to-date with best practices.

Safety and Emergency Protocols

  • What safety measures are in place?
    Your loved one’s safety is crucial, and this question helps assess how well-prepared the staff is for potential risks.
  • How do they handle emergencies?
    Understanding the community’s emergency protocols and responses can give you peace of mind about your loved one’s safety.

Services and Care Plans

  • How are personalized care plans developed?
    Inquire if the assisted living facility has personalized care plans to ensure your loved one's unique care needs and preferences are met.
  • Can services be adjusted based on changing needs?
    Your loved one’s needs can change over time, which can also shift their care options from assisted living to a nursing home. You’d want to choose an assisted home that can adapt to these needs. Flexibility in care is important.

Activities and Social Engagement

  • What recreational activities are offered?
    Recreational activities are necessary for socialization and your loved one's mental and physical well-being. They give structure to their daily schedule.
  • How do they promote social interaction among residents?
    Social engagement is one of the keys to a fulfilling and happy life in assisted living. In fact, studies have shown the secret to a long life isn’t diet and exercise but supportive relationships.

Questions to Ask During the Tour

During the assisted living tour, here are some questions you can bring up:

Living Arrangements

  • Can residents personalize their living spaces?
    Having the ability to personalize their living space will allow them to feel comfortable and at home.
  • What types of living arrangements are available?
    Understanding the variety of living options can help you choose the best fit for your loved one.

Dining and Nutrition

  • How are dietary needs and preferences accommodated?
    Proper nutrition is important, and accommodating dietary preferences shows the facility is committed to resident satisfaction.
  • Can residents request special meals?
    Does your loved one require a special diet? Flexibility in meal options ensures they can safely enjoy their meals and receive the necessary nutrition.

Health and Wellness Programs

  • What health and wellness programs are available?
    Programs that promote physical and mental health can stimulate their body and cognition and keep them active.
  • Is there a fitness center or exercise classes?
    Regular exercise is vital for maintaining health and mobility in seniors.

Transportation Services

  • How is transportation arranged for medical appointments and outings?
    A reliable transportation service ensures your loved one can access healthcare services unavailable onsite. It gives them a sense of independence to go on tours or outdoor activities whenever they want.
  • Is there an additional cost for transportation services?
    Understanding how much it costs can help you plan your budget and evaluate the value of the services.

Post Tour Questions

After going around the compound, check your assisted living checklist for what you need to probe next. Here are some ideas:

Financial Considerations

  • What is the overall cost, and what does it include?
    Clarify how much it costs overall — and what’s included. This will help you evaluate if their services are worth it and will help you when comparing different communities.
  • Are there any additional fees or charges?
    To avoid unexpected billing, double-check if there are any hidden costs or additional charges.
  • What are the different financing options?
    Financing options can make paying for the services more affordable.

Contract and Admission Process

  • What is the admission process like?
    Knowing the steps involved in the admission process will help your loved one better prepare for a smooth transition.
  • What is included in the residency agreement?
    A clear understanding of the agreement guarantees you know the rights and responsibilities of each party.

Family Involvement and Communication

  • How does the facility inform family members about their loved one's well-being?
    Determine the company's communication channels and methods to update you on your loved one's health progress or decline, daily schedule, and life.
  • Can family members participate in care planning meetings?
    Involvement in care planning considers the family's insights and the resident's preferences.

Reflecting on the Tour Experience

After the assisted living tour, take some time to reflect on your experience. Compare the companies you've seen so far. How were their facilities? Did their staff answer your questions correctly? Remember also to check the overall atmosphere of the facility — not just their amenities and services -– and picture out how your loved one might fit into the community.

Get Answers by Asking the Right Questions

Choosing the right assisted living facility for a loved one involves more than just ticking boxes — it's about finding a place that feels just right. It's a big decision, so you may want to take your time. Visit different facilities, ask plenty of questions, and involve your loved one in decision-making.

It can feel overwhelming, so reach out for help, especially if you need it urgently. Our team at Senex Memory Advisors consists ofCertified Senior Advisors and Certified Dementia Practitioners who can help you research the best community in the area and one that truly cares for your family. Ultimately, you want them to stay safe, well-cared for, and happy in their new home. Learn more about asking the right questions.

Syed Rizvi

Syed has years of experience dealing with people, understanding their needs, and helping them find solutions to their problems.
As a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP), Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional (CMDCP), Syed is committed to working closely with Senior and their family knowing what is it like for individuals facing a challenging time, at times groping in dark trying to figure what is the appropriate next step or care level for their unique situation.
Syed and Senex Memory Advisors are fully committed to working closely with families in creating a personalized, step-by-step process memory care plan at zero cost.

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