Residential care level needs depend on the amount of physical challenges and/or memory loss your loved one faces. We encourage you to ask specific questions about which levels this community offers — independent living, assisted living, memory care, rehabilitation, respite care, etc —and how those levels differ. Focus your questions on what community and care level type may be right for you or your loved one, the types of support offered, how they manage care for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, and whether there is a continuum of care throughout the different levels.
TOP 10 QUESTIONS FOR SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITIES
- What care levels do you offer?
- What makes your community stand out from the rest of the communities in this area?
- Does the community have a management company?
- Who owns the community?
- Do you have a Registered Nurse (R.N.) or Licensed Professional Nurse (L.P.N.) overseeing the healthcare program in both assisted living and memory care?
- Are members of the management team at the community on the weekend?
- Who plans the menus? How are they planned? How often are they changed — monthly, quarterly, or seasonally? Are the residents encouraged to be involved?
- How are the activities planned? Do the resident’s suggestions and preferences factor into the activities calendar? Are they meeting the resident’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs?
- Who is the current Executive/Community Director?
- What do residents have to say about their community?
If the answer is “our care,” ask for specifics. It is important to understand the quality of care offered. Excellent care is expected of any healthcare community. When discussing care, be sure to ask how quality is measured and have them cite specific examples of moments involving exceptional care. This helps everyone understand and manage care expectations in the future. Not all senior living communities are equal.
If so, where is it located? How often do representatives from the management company visit the community? Having involved property management is critical to the health of the community, well-being and output of its staff members, and building maintenance.
This is a crucial question if not the most important. It is critical to know that the owners are truly invested in the community and its residents.
Do you have a Registered Nurse (R.N.) or Licensed Professional Nurse (L.P.N.) overseeing the healthcare program in both assisted living and memory care?
If so, what hours is he or she at the community? While assisted living communities don’t require that an R.N. or L.P.N. be in the building overnight or on the weekends, they should still be considered “on call” for any resident needs that arise.
In every retirement community, someone from the management team should be present over weekends so they’re aware of what is happening during the weekend. They are also there so you have access to a member of the management team every day of the week.
Who plans the menus? How are they planned? How often are they changed — monthly, quarterly, or seasonally? Are the residents encouraged to be involved?
Menu options should be diverse and changed frequently. If residents do have menu input, ask for a specific example. If possible, schedule a lunch tour so you can experience the dining program for yourself! Ask if there are fees associated with dining that would increase the overall assisted living cost and what the options are if your loved one has a fixed income housing budget.
How are the activities planned? Do the resident’s suggestions and preferences factor into the activities calendar? Are they meeting the resident’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs?
Always ask for a copy of the latest calendar of activities, whether you are seeking assisted living, memory care, or an independent living lifestyle for the active adults. Ask for details about the programs and whether or not the residents are involved. It is ideal if a community has a newsletter to help communicate activities information to you on an ongoing basis.
It’s very important to meet the Executive Director for the community, get to know a little bit about them, and ask why he or she chose this industry. This is the person who sets the standard for the rest of the community as well as its employees, and ensures the most positive environment for everyone.
This is their home. See what they have to say. They can give you valuable insight and potentially be a new friend and neighbor to your loved one. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to the residents directly, ask the management team for specific stories and examples that current residents have shared with them about how living in this community has improved their lives.