We hope you’ve been able to join us for one or both of our webinars this month featuring information on Senior Living Communities (and we’ve got another one coming up!). One participant asked for a list of questions to ask when visiting a community, and well, we thought that was a great question!
On the surface, communities may seem similar. You will probably notice the thoughtful decor from the moment you step in the building, and your tour guide will take pride in telling you about things like the community’s activity options and dining program. But what will it really be like if your Senior moves in? And how might that change over their residency at this community?
The opportunities for socialization and the ability to live a lifestyle free of home maintenance concerns are big draws for many Seniors who are considering a move to a community. On your tour, you’ll want to figure out how your Senior will access all of the wonderful community offerings so you can plan ahead if they may need more support.
Here are some questions to ask about community life:
- What apartment maintenance is offered? If my Senior needs a maintenance service that the building can’t provide, do you assist with finding appropriate services?
- Do environmental services personnel also monitor for maintenance needs, or is that solely the responsibility of the Senior?
- How are maintenance and cleaning needs charged? Are there additional fees for cleaning up bodily fluids?
- How do you communicate with residents about activities and events?
- Do staff make an effort to engage residents in activities, or is it up to the Senior to participate or not?
- My Senior might need assistance getting to or from activities. How does that work?
It’s best to do your homework on what level of care is best for your Senior before visiting a community. Why? Because communities, just like any other business, need to make money, and they can and do attempt to sell residency to Seniors who need more care than the community is structured (or even licensed) to provide. You want to avoid the potential for the community to tell your Senior that they need to hire care privately if they want to remain a resident at the building, or worse, for your Senior to get hurt or experience health consequences as a result of moving to a community that is not appropriate for them. To learn more about what different levels of care are, check out this blog post.
Here are some questions to ask about the care your Senior needs:
- How is care structured? Tell me about how the care plan is written and how care is administered.
- How do you monitor that the care plan is being implemented as written?
- What options are there if my Senior needs more care in the future?
- How are care costs structured? Are there categories of care, a points system, or something different?
- Do you have options for receiving on-call care? If so, how does this work? And what are the costs?
If your Senior does not have a dementia diagnosis, you may think “I’ll just skip this section.” While that may be the case today, we strongly encourage you to plan for the chance that your Senior may need memory care tomorrow. Especially if your Senior has a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment – or is exhibiting cognitive symptoms even without a formal diagnosis – it’s best to think about a move with the potential need for memory care in mind.
Here are some questions to ask about memory care:
- Do you offer memory care in this building? If not, are you affiliated with another building that does?
- Do you offer intermediate programming for residents with cognitive needs but who are not in need of a full, locked unit?
- Does your team receive memory care training beyond what is mandated by your state? If so, what does it look like?
- Does your staff actively monitor for residents’ changing cognition? If so, what does it look like?
- How do you communicate with families when you notice a resident may have cognitive needs beyond what you provide in their current setting?
Choosing a community can be a challenging process for both Seniors and their loved ones. You may have a lot of time to consider community living, or it may be something that becomes unexpectedly necessary. Whatever your process is for helping your Senior select a community, we hope that knowing the questions to ask will help you feel confident in your decision. As always, we are here to support with Senior Living Community considerations.