Senior Housing: What to Ask When Touring an Assisted Living Community

Senior Housing: What to Ask When Touring an Assisted Living Community
March 2, 2020

Across the US, there are over 800,000 people in assisted living facilities. When it’s time for your loved one to join those numbers, it’s often a stressful transition. After all, it’s an impactful decision and you want the best for them.

Finding a great situation for your loved one starts with doing your research. After you narrow down your options for assisted living in your area and you schedule a tour for each facility, you need to make your list of questions to ask.

On top of the obvious senior housing questions like availability and price, add these critical questions to your list.

What Living Options Are Available?

You’ve already assessed your loved one’s needs and you know that they are a good fit for assisted living. Will that still be all they need in five or ten years, though?

Chances are that they will eventually need to step up to nursing care. If conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s set in, they might need memory care too.

Look for a facility that has at least one step above assisted living. If your loved one does need to step up their care later, it will be an easier transition if they don’t have to move again.

Be sure to ask what each of the facility’s care levels involve as well. Not every facility provides the same services for assisted living or nursing care, so find out what is available.

What On-Site Medical Care Do You Have?

Part of the reason you’re looking for assisted living is so your loved one gets the available care they need. Not all facilities have as much medical care as you would expect, though.

It can run the gamut from one facility to the next, from having full-time on-site doctors and nurses to a visit from a nurse once per week.

There is no right or wrong answer, necessarily. It’s all based on how much attention your loved one needs.

Keep in mind, though, that you can’t expect the facility’s care to replace your loved one’s doctor visits. Think of on-site care as ongoing monitoring rather than a way to treat medical conditions.

What Is Your Emergency Response Process?

As scary as it may be, each year 32 percent of people over 80 require emergency room care. You need to know that your assisted living facility can handle an emergency if and when it arises.

Ask the facility what their protocol is when emergencies occur. Who responds? What emergency treatments are they able to administer until help arrives?

In addition, make sure you know which hospital receives their emergency cases and how close it is to the facility.

What Social And Entertainment Opportunities Do You Have?

After talking about medical emergencies and healthcare, entertainment seems like a small matter. It makes a bigger difference to your loved one than you think, though.

For one, having social opportunities and entertainment available makes seniors more active. The more active they are, the more likely they are to stay healthy thanks to the exercise.

In addition, hobbies and social bonding help seniors avoid depression, which is a serious risk for the age group.

Finally, the more options the facility has on-site, the less likely your loved one is to drive off-campus where they’ll be at risk for car accidents and other dangers.

What Are the Housing Options?

Each assisted living facility has a different arrangement as far as housing is concerned.

Some facilities have large buildings with rooms for each resident, similar to a hotel. Others have full apartments. Many facilities have multiple options for residents to choose from.

Talk to your loved one about what type of arrangement they would like. Some prefer the extra company of having a roommate while others prefer privacy. Find out not only which options the facility has, but how much availability they have for each one.

What Are Your Staff’s Qualifications?

An assisted living facility can be beautiful and well-appointed. If the staff doesn’t have the knowledge to care for your loved one, though, it’s all for nothing.

Talk to the facility about the staff they hire. What types of qualifications and credentials do they have?

Most importantly, how much experience do the staff members have in working with senior citizens and their unique needs? A registered nurse with 20 years of experience won’t be as much help if they’ve only worked in pediatric offices.

In particular, ask which types of staff members will interact with your loved one on a regular basis and find out their qualifications.

Can You Speak With References?

As you tour a facility, look beyond the buildings and the grounds. Pay attention to how the residents are acting and whether they seem happy.

As helpful as that can be, it’s ideal to be able to speak to residents and their families too. This gives you an opportunity to ask direct questions about their experiences.

If the facility is new, this may not be available. You can still ask, though, because the staff may be able to give you references from past facilities they’ve managed.

Choosing The Right Senior Housing For Your Loved One

Taking care of your loved one as they get older is a stressful time. You think back on everything they’ve done for you in the past and you want to do the best you can for them.

Great elder care starts with a great senior housing or assisted living facility. The questions above can help you identify the best fit for that important person so they can enjoy their golden years while you rest easy.

To find out if Sonnet Hill is the right choice for you, schedule a tour of our assisted living facility today.

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