If your loved one has decided to move to an assisted living community, they may feel overwhelmed with the decision-making process. There is a lot to consider, so expect the process of finding the right community to take time. For the best fit, you will want to arrange tours of several communities. Touring assisted living communities is the single best way to decide which one is right for your parent. During your tour, you will develop a feel for what makes each community unique. You’ll be able to interact with residents and staff, ask questions, and see how each community operates.
Before you begin touring assisted living communities, spend some time brainstorming and taking notes with your loved one. List any features they want in their new home, such as a private bathroom or the ability to bring along a pet. Jot down any special needs they have, such as dietary considerations and medical conditions. Does Mom need help with housekeeping or bathing? Does she want enough space to host girl friends for movie nights? Add it to your list and plan to bring your notes with you, so you won’t overlook anything. When your notes are complete, it’s time to begin touring assisted living communities! Don’t forget to make an appointment to ensure that someone will be available to guide you during your visit.
Suggestions for Touring Assisted Living Communities
You have your notes and you’ve made your tour appointment. Here are some suggestions for things to look for and questions to ask during your tour:
Can you accommodate my loved one’s special needs? This is the single most important criteria, so ask about it first. Keep in mind that assisted living communities vary widely in the services they offer. This is actually an advantage since the level of care is often reflected in the price. You may not need a facility that offers round-the clock nursing care, for example. On the other hand, if Dad needs help managing his medications, you needn’t bother touring communities that don’t offer that feature. Other things to consider include your loved one’s need for housekeeping and laundry assistance.
What sorts of activities do you offer? Try to get a feel for the types of community activities offered on a daily and weekly basis. Take notes or ask if a printed activity schedule is available; this information will be helpful during your decision process. If there is an activity going on during your tour, ask if you can participate or observe the action. This will give you an excellent idea of how the staff and residents interact. Also, ask if any organized activities outside of the community are offered.
Can I talk to some of the folks who live and work here? Obviously, you will want to spend time talking with the management at the community you are touring. But take things a step further to get a real feel for each place. Talk to the residents; ask how long they’ve lived there, and what their favorite part about their community is. Talk to any staff you meet during your tour as well. It will help you gauge the overall atmosphere of each place you tour.
How much privacy will my loved one have? The need for privacy tops the list for many seniors who are moving away from home for the first time. Is having private accommodations important to Mom? Then be sure to inquire about the availability of single rooms. Are there private bathrooms in all the rooms or only some? Ask to see available living spaces, and help your loved one envision how they could make each space their own. “Look Mom, that window will be wonderful for growing plants!” Don’t forget to refer to your notes to see how each space matches up with your loved one’s criteria.
What common spaces are available? – Visit each one; it will give you a solid sense of what each community is like. If Dad is very social, he’ll probably prefer a bustling living room full of residents chatting, playing games, and visiting. If he prefers the quiet life, a smaller, more intimate space might be a better fit. Don’t forget to check out the outdoor spaces as well. Are there walking paths and places to sit? Is there an area where young visitors would feel welcome? Can residents help with the gardening?
Can we join a mealtime today? Arrange your visit to overlap a mealtime if possible and ask to join in. This is an excellent way to check out both the dining environment and the food. Things to consider: Can special requests be accommodated? Did your loved one enjoy the meal? Is the atmosphere welcoming? Before you leave the dining area, ask if you can see a menu for that week. It will give you a good idea of the variety of dining options available.
Can we talk about the nitty gritty details. Double check your notes before you leave to make sure all your questions were addressed. Make sure you fully understand the monthly fees of each community and what that fee includes. A community that seems more expensive on the surface might include more in their base cost. Another community might start from a lower base cost, but charge additional fees for extra services. You’ll need a clear understanding of each community’s pricing structure in order to compare them.
Keep in mind that choosing an assisted living facility involves both your head and your heart. Figure out what your loved one wants and needs and narrow your choices to the communities that meet those criteria. After that, it’s a matter of the heart – deciding which community feels right to both of you.