Finding an assisted living community to meet the needs of your aging loved one requires research, legwork, and lots of discussion. It’s not a choice you can make sight unseen. You’ll want to tour potential communities before you and your loved one make a decision.
And, oftentimes, an adult child finds it easier to visit a variety of communities without their parent. Because many have an idea of what their senior family member will and won’t like, they can eliminate those they don’t think are a good fit. Then the parent and adult child can visit the top two or three communities together later.
Whatever approach you choose, preparing ahead is the key to making the most of each tour.
9 Tips for Touring an Assisted Living Community
Here are a few tips to help you know what to ask and what to look for:
1. Discuss your loved one’s preferences to narrow down your choices.
Would your loved one thrive in a more luxurious community? Or would they be more comfortable in a laidback environment? What types of activities do they enjoy and want to stay involved in?
Each assisted living community has its own unique personality, and you will want to find one where your loved one will feel at home.
2. Investigate the staff-to-resident ratio.
Does the staff seem stressed and overworked? Or are they smiling and pleasant? Does the community appear to have enough staff members to care for the residents?
These are all important observations to make.
3. Watch how the staff treats the residents.
More importantly, but definitely related to the ratio of staff to residents, is how the staff treats the residents.
Try to be an unobtrusive observer to see how staff behaves when they think no one is watching.
4. Take a formal tour, but also wander the community on your own.
The formal tour will introduce you to all the services and amenities of the community. But it’s only when you walk the halls, visit the cafeteria, and peek in on classes unchaperoned that will you really see what the community is like.
After your formal tour, ask the staff member for a few minutes to wander around on your own.
5. Share a meal in the community.
Assess the quality and nutritional value of the food in the community by eating a meal in the dining room with residents. Pay attention to how the residents and staff act.
Are they friendly and welcoming? Do people seem to be enjoying socializing over their meal? Will your loved one easily make friends here?
6. Chat with the residents.
Chances are the residents in an assisted living community will be happy to have company and more than willing to chat. AARP recommends the following questions:
- How long have you lived here?
- Do you like living here?
- What do you like to do during the day?
- Is the staff attentive without being intrusive?
- Are caregivers friendly?
- Do you feel it’s worth the cost?
7. Ask about day trips and transportation.
Ask the staff about what services and enrichment opportunities are located in the local area from shopping to cultural arts. What sort of transportation does the community offer to take advantage of these? Does the community schedule fun day trips for residents?
8. Ask about area doctors and hospitals.
Investigate the doctors, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals that are onsite. Explore physicians and hospitals in the area, too.
Check the licensing and credentials of on-staff doctors. Are your loved one’s regular doctors nearby or will your aging loved one have to switch healthcare providers?
9. Explore the physical plant.
The physical plant can tell you a lot about a community. Is it warm and welcoming? Is it clean and well-kept? Or are walls, doors, and floors in disrepair?
Look for wide corridors, light colors, and well-lighted hallways, which can help reduce the risk of falls.
Making the Decision
A number of factors go into selecting an assisted living community for your aging loved one. And a personal tour is an important step in making an informed choice. Tour a Five Star community today and see what sets us apart.