Choosing to live in a senior living community is a wise move for seniors entering a new stage of life. Whether they're looking for Independent Living, Assisted Living, or Memory Care, it's crucial to do your research first before choosing where your elderly loved one will spend their vintage years.
Visiting the websites and reading the brochures of local senior communities are two great ways to create a shortlist of the communities that you feel would be a good fit. However, websites and brochures are marketing materials designed to show the communities in the most favorable light possible. The best way to find the right senior living arrangement for your loved one is to arrange for a meeting and a tour of the community. You'll get a clearer picture of what the community is like and get a true sense of whether your senior loved one will thrive there.
Here are seven questions you can ask during the meeting that will help you make the most informed choice possible:
1. What are the apartments like?
Just like when you buy a house, you need to see a senior apartment to ensure it's safe, secure, and feels like home. Ask about any decorating restrictions, the level of privacy your family member can expect, and when they can accept visitors. Also, ensure there will be room to bring meaningful personal effects that will make the transition easier, such as a favorite easy chair, dresser, or night table, and if grab bars, rails, and non-slip surfaces are installed in the bathrooms.
2. Which services and utilities are included in the rent?
Find out exactly which services and utilities are covered by the monthly rental fee so there are no surprises down the road. Examples include meals, heat, water, cable television, WiFi, telephone, and emergency call systems. Also, ask if the rent includes housekeeping and laundry services and how often these services are provided.
3. Are activities designed for accessibility?
Senior living communities are places where your elderly should enjoy life, have fun, and thrive. Most provide the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities. However, many seniors may have accessibility issues and public health concerns that might limit their participation and affect their overall well-being. Make a list of your loved one's interests and social needs to see if those are on the calendar and ask how accommodating the activities are regarding accessibility and health. Also, find out if transportation is provided to offsite places of interest, such as churches, movie theaters, museums, and senior centers.
4. What training and qualifications does the community’s team have?
You'll only want the best trained and most qualified people engaging with and caring for your elderly loved one. Don't be afraid to ask about how long the members of the staff have been with the community, whether the community has conducted background checks of staff members, and about the training and qualifications of healthcare workers, therapists, and all staff who will be interacting with your family member. Also, inquire if their staff undergoes continuing education to sharpen and upgrade their skills and holds regular team meetings to discuss and proactively solve issues.
5. What are the dining options?
While assisted living and memory care communities all provide three meals a day, the food options provided at independent living communities vary. Ask how many meals are included with the monthly rent. Regardless whether you’re looking for independent or assisted living, you can ask if you can stop by during a mealtime to sample the food. Also, don’t forget to ask about any special dietary needs your senior might have. Whether your loved one is on a strict low-sodium diet, prefers not to eat meat or animal products, or has severe food allergies or strict religious requirements, make sure the community is willing to accommodate their dietary needs. You can also ask if the community's kitchen staff can coordinate with your health specialist to put together a customized menu for your loved one. Finally, find out how many different dining venues are available and if your family can dine with your relatives.
6. How will my loved one's care needs be met?
Many people move to senior living communities because living independently is no longer viable, especially when they need ongoing care for specific physical limitations or medical conditions, including degenerative diseases such as dementia. Be sure to ask how the community's team supports residents' individual care needs, what types of physical and cognitive therapy are offered, and if nursing services and support are available 24/7. Also, inquire if they provide medication management to help your loved one take prescription and over-the-counter medicine correctly. Finally, ask how much this additional care will cost.
7. Which safety measures are in place for residents?
Safety inside the unit and outside within the senior community is of prime concern. Ask if emergency alert buttons or pull cords are easily accessible in the apartments and provide the resident's location for a faster response from staff. In the case of memory care, get information about their security protocols to ensure all residents are secure and accounted for. Also, find out if there's an emergency response plan in place to keep the residents safe in a dangerous or life-threatening situation and if there's a backup generator in the event of a power failure.
Ask the representative for community references
During your meeting, don't be afraid to ask for references. Although most senior living communities are beautiful places to live, they are, in reality, businesses trying to keep units full. Asking for references will truly demonstrate that you're serious about where you place your elderly relative.
However, asking is only half the job. Be sure to call the references to ask about their satisfaction with the community. Some people might have small areas of dissatisfaction, but be sure to pay attention to any big red flags such as neglect, suspicions of abuse, inadequate health care, substandard food, significant turnover of staff, and other significant areas of concern.
Finally, ask yourself one fundamental question: would you live in this community when you're older? If your answer is no, take it off your list and keep looking.
Find a Senior Living Advisor in the Nashville Metro area and Middle Tennessee
Researching, contacting, and interviewing potential senior living communities can be a daunting task, especially if you're doing it alone or for the first time. The entire process can be confusing and frustrating without the proper guidance.
That's why when families in the Nashville Metro area or Middle Tennessee need a senior living advisor, they contact Tim Tuttle of Assisted Living Locators at 615-375-3553 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim's clients rely on his expert guidance, exhaustive research, and trusted partnership to help them make the most informed choice possible on where their older loved ones will live during their vintage years.
Get in touch with us today. We're always happy to help!