For many seniors, assisted living is often the next step in the retirement journey. When housework, driving, and care needs start to put a crimp in your style, the right assisted living community can return your feelings of joy and personal independence. Additionally, assisted living provides everything needed to maintain health and safety. Of course, choosing the right care community is essential to ensuring that you will continue to enjoy your retirement to the fullest.
Looking for an assisted living community that is close to home is important. But you should also find a place that suits your level of care needs, interests, budget — and even your sense of style. After all, you're picking your new home, community, friends, and amenities all at once. It's only natural to take tours and ask a few questions before making this critical decision.
Let's dive into the right questions to ask at senior living communities before you decide where to move-in.
1) What are the assisted living services offered?
The first thing you'll want to know is how the community defines 'assisted living' and what care options they offer. Ideally, you'll find a community that covers all basic necessities and chores without being considered 'extras.' These services should include:
- A restaurant-style dining room
- Housekeeping and maintenance
- Transportation services
- Medical care and assistance
- Personal care services
- Activities and amenities
2) What are the floorplans available for assisted living apartments?
When it comes to being comfortable in a new home environment, few things matter more than the floorplan. You need to know whether you (or your loved one) will be getting a room, an apartment, or a small home, and how ample that space will be. Usually, senior living communities feature a few tiered care options, including allowing seniors to pick the right housing options for their lifestyle and needs. Look for senior housing that offers apartment-style living rather than simple rooms.
3) Which utilities are included in an assisted living plan?
The cost of assisted living is often eased by the fact that seniors don't have to pay additionally for utilities and services. However, not every care community is so financially inclusive. Make sure to ask which utilities, like power, water, and cable are included in the cost of the apartment and community membership. In many cases, the all-in-one cost is notably lower than a senior living alone paying for meals and utilities separately.
Look for senior living communities that have a real, all-in-one pricing plan that includes utilities and property care.
4) Does your community offer transportation services?
Transportation is a critical service in assisted living because many seniors no longer drive. A community that offers transport can help seniors get to their appointments and even socialize outside the community without having to worry about asking for family members to pick them up.
In fact, they can altogether eschew worries or costs of personal vehicles if concierge transportation is included in the senior living community experience.
5) Do you have availability now?
Many assisted living facilities advertise year-round even when they don't have openings. Be very careful when making plans to ask if a community has availability now. You don't want to make transition plans on a timeline, only to discover there are currently no apartments available, and there is a waitlist.
Look for an assisted living community with enough apartments that there are always a few of each floorplan available. If they do, it's a good sign that they know how to manage the community and can be there for you when you (or your loved one) are personally ready to make the transition.
6) What are the qualifications of your caregiver staff?
When trusting your health care to community-provided care, always be sure to ask about the qualifications of the care staff. Ask if their staff members are Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses to help with medication and care. If the answer is 'Yes,' then you can know that your health will be in capable and compassionate hands. You can also inquire as to whether the non-medical caregiving staff is certified in your state. If so, it means mean that they know how to properly treat an older person and provide supportive health care in assisted living.
7) What activities does your community have to offer?
Once you're sure that all of your immediate needs and living situation will be taken care of, it's time to start thinking about fun. Of course, you need a senior living community where you'll have a good time. After all, enjoying yourself is the entire purpose of retirement. Be sure to ask about the activities, amenities, and special events available in the community. Many communities feature a variety of classes and resources that can help you have a wonderful time during your retirement.
8) Can assisted living in your community transition to memory care?
Another crucial question to ask looks toward future possibilities and considerations as your needs change. Just in case you or a loved one may need memory care in the coming years, you want a community where that transition can be smooth and enjoyable. Memory care simply means that you may need additional services and guidance to enjoy the community. No one wants to uproot the retirement life and friends they have made to receive that additional level of care. A community that includes memory care means that if you do experience an eventual transition, you can continue to enjoy the community you have already come to know and love.
9) What are the best aspects of your community?
As you wrap up your questions, ask the community representative speaking to you to share some of their favorite highlights. Ask them what is the best about their community; what makes their senior community stand out compared to others you might choose from. Often, assisted living communities have put special effort into building a truly unique and supportive environment. It's easy to forget to ask about the unique things the community has to offer. So invite them to share. How have they worked to provide something above and beyond a cozy, assisted living home? Do they have enjoyable outdoor space and activity groups? You will hopefully be pleasantly surprised by the answer.
10) What are the community visitor policies?
Finally, ask about visitor policies. Some senior living communities are more friendly to visiting family than others. Ideally, you want a community where you can share activities and amenities with your family when they visit so that they can share in the joy of your retirement experiences. Find out how long relatives can visit, what they can do with you in the community, and how the community will keep communication open with your family.
Here at Weatherly Inn, we dedicate ourselves to helping seniors truly enjoy retirement with an inclusive assisted living package. Our beautiful grounds surround apartment-style living and a vast collection of activities and amenities. We offer comprehensive cost-of-living and concierge transportation so that residents maintain the highest level of independence possible. Caregivers include RNs, LNPs, and certified senior care professionals, and your family is welcome to visit at any time. Our communities also offer a smooth transition to memory care should that become something needed by you or a loved one. Contact us today to find out more about how Weatherly Inn can provide for your assisted living needs or to ask these key questions while making your decision.
We would love to answer any of these or other questions.