Senior living care communities and assisted living facilities are becoming increasingly popular as baby boomers age. In fact, more than 735,000 Americans live in assisted living facilities, according to the National Center for Assisted Living.
Before you sign a lease or make a deposit or down payment, understand exactly which services you or a loved one will receive as a resident of a senior living community. Since elder care communities try to “sell” their facilities, their employees may spend much of the tour touting the benefits and neglecting potential downsides of moving to the community.
Asking detailed questions like those listed below help you decide if an assisted living or senior community is right for you or an aging family member.
Rooms and Apartments
Moving from a house or apartment to senior living community is often the hardest aspect of the transition. Make sure you understand what will and won’t be included in the room, apartment or suite, and remember to ask about any caregiving needs.
- Will the room or apartment I tour be the one I (or my family member) will live in? If not, will it be the same size and layout?
- How often will the room be cleaned?
- Does the facility provide laundry service, and is there an additional cost?
- What furnishings are included? What furniture and possessions can I bring from my home?
- Can anyone enter my room or apartment without my permission?
- Will I receive assistance from caregivers with daily living, such as bathing or dressing, if I need it?
- Who will be allowed to enter the room, and for what reasons?
- Will I be given any input into roommate selection if I have a roommate?
Try to visit the dining room during a meal, and ask if you can try the food. Pay attention to the atmosphere and the interaction between residents; if you’re a friendly type and you notice the dining room is abnormally quiet, it may be more difficult to make new friends. Ask the following questions about dining services:
- How often is the menu changed? Can I see a weekly or monthly menu?
- Will the kitchen work with my special dietary needs?
- Can I invite guests to dinner? How often? How much will my guests be charged?
- Must I eat in the dining room, or can I eat in my room or apartment?
Access to medical services is an important feature of senior living facilities. Before you sign a contract, ask certain questions to ensure the facility can meet your needs.
- Which medical services are provided?
- Are there any medical staff on site? What happens if I have a medical emergency?
- Does the facility provide transportation for doctor’s visits?
- Will someone help me keep track of my medication and ensure I don’t forget to take them?
- Can I stay in my room or apartment if my health declines, or will I have to move to another part of the facility or to another facility?
Of course, it can be hard to leave friends and neighbors behind when moving to an assisted living or senior community. Look for facilities where residents are active and friendly, and ask to speak to one or more residents. When you speak to them, ask about:
- the length of time they’ve lived there
- the ease or difficulty of making friends
- how enjoyable their activities are
- what they appreciate most about the facility
Doing a little research is key to locating a senior living community that meets your social, medical and independent living needs. Finding a community that meets all your requirements may take a little time, but asking detailed questions will help ensure your choice is the best one for yourself or a family member.