Know Before You Go: Questions to Ask When You Tour a Senior Living Community

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know before you go

If you’ve decided to move to senior living, how do you choose the right community? Honestly, that can be just as overwhelming as whether or not to move at all, unless you’re prepared, of course! What should you be looking for? Should you tour virtually or in person? How do you compare communities? Here’s what to know before you tour a senior living community.

What to Consider When You Tour a Senior Living Community

Your first step is to take a step back. By that, we mean that before you even tour a senior living community, think about what you want and need. Knowing what’s most important beforehand- not only saves you the trouble of touring communities that aren’t a fit, but you’ll also avoid being overwhelmed by all the options available to you in those that are contenders. Consider these things:

  • Realistically assessing your current needs: Whether or not you need help with things like personal care, managing health conditions, housekeeping, home maintenance, and meals, and/or would like a more social, active lifestyle, for example.
  • The levels of care in senior living: Based on your needs, identifying whether active adult living, independent living, assisted living, or memory care would be the best fit will easily narrow your search.  
  • Non-negotiable and preferred senior living community features: Like being pet-friendly or having two-bedroom floor plans, and/or preferences such as concierge services and multiple dining venues, for example. 

How To Tour a Senior Living Community

To tour a senior living community today- you typically have two options: virtual or in person. With either, you’ll need to contact the community to schedule the day and time that’s convenient for you. We’ll also ask you some questions about your needs and what you’re looking for so we can tailor the tour experience. But which option is best? Here are the pros and cons of each.

In-Person Tours

Pros 

  • You can get a true feel for the environment using all your senses
  • You may be able to participate in an activity or a meal depending on the time of your visit
  • You may have more spontaneous opportunities to engage with residents and families

Cons 

  • It may require a significant amount of time (travel, plus the tour itself)
  • Transportation to the community may be a challenge for some
  • May limit out-of-town family who wants to be included 
  • Some families may be more hesitant to ask questions face to face

Virtual Tours

Pros 

  • More convenient for those with mobility challenges and/or who are recovering after surgery or illness 
  • Additional peace of mind during cold and flu season and/or for those immunocompromised 
  • More flexible for out-of-town family members 
  • Saves time and potentially money if travel is necessary

Cons 

  • The experience isn’t as immersive as an in-person tour
  • The community has more control over what you see and what you don’t

Questions to Ask 

You’ll want to identify two or three final contenders in which to tour. To more easily compare when you tour a senior living community, make sure you’re looking for the same things and asking the same questions at each. We suggest the following:  

Accommodations and Campus

  • What types of accommodations do they offer? What are the differences in cost for each?
  • Is the community’s occupancy high or low?
  • How’s the location?
  • Can residents personalize their space?
  • Is the community’s campus well maintained?
  • What do you think of the appearance, comfort, and cleanliness of the accommodations as well as the dining, common, and outdoor areas?

Lifestyle and Wellness

  • Does the menu have many nutritious and appealing offerings? Can you sample the food?
  • Does the community accommodate special dietary restrictions or requests?
  • What types of activities (exercise, wellness, enrichment, social, etc.) are offered?
  • How often do residents leave the community for outside activities?
  • How often are housekeeping and laundry services provided?
  • What do you think of the level of amenities available? Do they fit your needs and wants?
  • Can friends and family visit anytime? Are there common and private spaces to gather with them?
  • Is the community pet-friendly?

Staff and Care

  • How much daily assistance can residents expect?
  • What qualifications are required for the staff?
  • Are staff members offered additional and/or continuous training opportunities?
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio during the day and at night?
  • How do staff members interact with residents and you? Do they seem friendly and compassionate?
  • Does the community accommodate special needs, such as diabetic care?

Safety/Security

  • How does the community handle medical emergencies?
  • How is the community secured?
  • What safety features are available?
  • Is scheduled (and/or private) transportation offered?

Cost

  • What are the monthly costs for housing and care?
  • What services are included in those costs? What services are add-ons?
  • What are the community’s payment options?

For more information about touring senior living communities, download our Choosing a Senior Living Community Guide.

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