Any life decision requires careful deliberation. One of the hardest can be choosing the right senior community for yourself or a loved one.

If you’ve never looked before, this decision can bring additional stress because many options are available.  Between services, fees, meal options, and access to medical services, it can be challenging to keep everything straight. What is best for your needs? And where do you even start? The following essential questions are a helpful resource in your journey of selecting the perfect senior living haven.

What Levels of Service Are Available?

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to selecting an assisted living facility. 

To confidently choose a senior living community, you must understand the levels of service available. Some seniors may seek the security and streamlined simplicity that Independent Living has to offer. Others may feel comforted with a little extra help – whether it be for medication management, dressing, or bathing – while still enjoying their independence in Assisted Living. Other residents may desire the empowerment offered by Memory Care, which provides a specialized focus on Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other memory-related obstacles.

Regardless of your specific needs, a knowledgeable and proficient senior living staff member can guide you through the process to help you decide the right service level for you or your loved one.

What Is the Staff to Resident Ratio?

A high staff to resident ratio can indicate that the employees have increased workload and several areas of focus. A community that maintains a low staff to resident ratio demonstrates an investment in providing residents individualized care and attention. Residents come to know the staff as valued caretakers and friends, so the longevity of the staff is important to ensure the reliability and dependability that your loved one deserves. After all, the team sets the tone for every retirement community: their outlook and attentive care make all the difference in your loved one’s life.

Does a Management Company Maintain the Community?

If a property management company is involved in the maintenance, upkeep, and care of the community, it clearly has an invested interest in the community’s overall health. Inquire where the management company is located and how often representatives visit the community. Active involvement indicates the management company’s commitment to sustain a happy, enriching environment and deliver high-quality care.

What Are the Expenses and Fees?

The cost of senior living varies from location to location, and each service has a different fee. Inquire about what is covered – including food, amenities, and medical care – as well as entrance fees, so that you have a holistic understanding of the pricing breakdown. 

What Medical Services Are Provided?

For those with a health condition, it is essential to know what medical services are offered and what specialized staff members are available on location. Some assisted living communities may have a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse on location, while other locations may have services on call. Ask what hours medical services are available in the community.

For specialized medical needs, will you need to venture out into the surrounding community? If so, how far is the retirement home from your hospital or health care center? What transportation options does the community offer? Research what your health care access looks like before deciding which retirement home is the right place for you.

What Activities Are Available?

Everyone has their own interests that makes them unique. 

Some people love a solitary morning stroll; others enjoy a good tango or salsa; some revel in an eclectic collection of books and the comforts of a cozy couch. Whatever makes you the unique individual that you are, you should always be in an environment where you are nurtured and supported.

When finding the right senior care, inquire about the community’s planned activities. You may see an activity that sparks your interest. If you don’t see your passion project on the agenda, ask about the community’s flexibility with planning new activities. You may find yourself spearheading a gardening venture that breathes additional life into your new home.

How Are Their Meals?

Ask to see a copy of the current menu. Get details about how meals are planned out, whether they are decided days or weeks in advance. You should also see if the retirement center is open to cuisine requests from the residents. If so, ask for specific instances wherein additions were made. Finally, inquire if the home makes adjustments in their menu offerings based on resident feedback. When the staff is flexible and open to input, this sets a precedent for compassionate service in other areas and will provide you valuable information for your loved one’s long-term happiness.  

What Is the Pet Policy?

The decision to transition into an assisted living community can initially be taxing, especially with abrupt changes in daily routine. 

Bringing along a beloved pet is an effective way to ease the shift when choosing a retirement community. Owning a pet reduces stress and adds numerous other health benefits in elder care. Keep in mind, however, that pets are not allowed at every senior home. If your sentient companion is an important emotional support, be sure to add pet policy to your senior housing checklist.  

Request to See the Current State Survey

Access to the latest State Health Department survey will provide insight into areas where a retirement community is excelling or lacking, and their action plan for addressing issues that need work. The survey should be available to you upon your request and is an unbiased way to judge the home based on state standards.

Ask the Residents for Their Input

Finally, speak with the residents at the community. There is no better way to test an experience than by consulting with those who live there. Residents will be able to provide an unfiltered impression of their time spent within the community. They can offer insight into the aspects they love, or what they think could use some adjustment. By speaking with the residents, you can gauge your impression of the community and perhaps make a new friend along the way. Of course, an instance in which residents are unavailable for feedback may indicate more serious underlying issues. Residents should have autonomy in all circumstances, and lack of access to communal input is good information for your search. 

Contact one of our communities to ask these important questions. They will be happy to guide you through the process. Perhaps you will find the idyllic senior living haven waiting for you!