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October 21, 2019

Questions to Ask When Searching for an Assisted Living Community

As you begin the process of searching for an assisted living and memory care community for your loved one, you’re more than likely experiencing an array of emotions, not to mention an endless list of questions running through your mind. After all, searching for your elder’s next home is a big decision.

Knowing what to look for and ask about when visiting a community can help simplify your search. To help, we’ve created an assisted living and memory care checklist. We encourage you to share your notes with those you trust when discussing this transition. 

Environment

The environment plays a critical role in assisted living and memory care communities. If you don’t feel comfortable in a building, your loved one won’t either. Questions to consider:

  • Was I greeted warmly by staff?

  • Do the residents and staff look happy or joyful?

  • Does the community look lively?

  • Does the community have a concierge available daily to assist residents and their guests?

  • Are comfortable community spaces available for residents to gather with family and friends?

Cleanliness

An unusual odor around the community can indicate that residents are not adequately cared for, and housekeeping is subpar. Ask questions such as:

  • What products do you use for incontinence?

  • What type of products do you use to clean the community?

  • How often are the residents’ units cleaned? 

  • Do you provide laundry services? If so, how often?

  • Does the community look well-maintained and tidy? 

Resident Apartments 

While your senior will spend a large portion of their time out in the community engaging with others, they will also spend time in their apartment. Things to observe:

  • Does the apartment allow my loved one to move around easily and safely?

  • Can the apartment temperature be controlled by the resident?

  • Is adequate lighting available?

  • Is an emergency call system available, and can it be easily reached? 

  • Are the bathrooms ADA compliant?

Licensure and Resident-to-Staff Ratio

It’s imperative that the assisted living communities you’re considering are properly licensed through the Department of Health and Senior Services. Questions to ask:

  • Does the community have appropriate licensure?

  • Does the community meet the state requirements on the resident-to-caregiver staff ratio?

Activity Program and Socialization Opportunities

A robust activity program is critical for the wellbeing of seniors. It’s not unusual to find seniors becoming isolated or inactive as they age. A well-rounded activity program will ensure each residents’ physical, spiritual, social, and mental needs are met. Questions to ask:

  • What types of activities do you offer daily?

  • Do you have a monthly activity calendar? 

  • Can you engage residents with all levels of capabilities?

Safety Features

The safety of residents is the first priority of any assisted living community—,, especially in memory care. Each community should have specific safety features, such as keypads for entrances and exits, alarmed exits, pendant alerts or pull chords, and 24-hour staff monitoring. Questions to ask:

  • What is the standard security process for visitors who enter and exit the building?

  • Does the community have the technology to help monitor the safety of my loved one?

  • Does the community have a comprehensive fire and natural disaster safety plan?

  • Is the community staffed 24-hours per day?

Communication

Communication with the community about your loved one is vital to building trust and providing peace of mind. Questions to ask:

  • Does the community offer resident and family council meetings to provide input on community life?

  • Can I check on my loved one at any time of the day?

  • Is each apartment equipped with Wi-Fi?

  • Does the community have software that provides daily updates to families?

  • Is there a direct, personal contact for the families at the community?

Nutrition

As our loved ones age, their dietary needs and personal preferences change, and it’s essential that a community is able to accommodate those needs and changes.
Questions to ask:

  • Are menu options cooked to order?

  • Can the residents eat on their schedule?

  • Does the community accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences?

  • Is the dining room clean and comfortable?

  • Does the community offer three meals daily, plus any-time snacks and hydration?

Finance Opportunities

There are many ways to finance assisted living and memory care. These options include Veteran’s Benefits, long-term care policies, whole life insurance, savings, pension, and family contribution. Questions to ask:

  • What types of finance opportunities are available at your community?

  • If I’m using multiple forms of financing—for example, Veteran’s Benefits and family contribution—how will I know what I’m to pay monthly?

  • Do you correspond with third parties (insurance companies, Veterans administration) on my behalf to get benefits, or is that something that I need to do?

  • When is the monthly payment due?

  • What types of payment do you accept?

Care Plans

Care plans provide direction for the individualized care of each resident and should be organized by the resident’s specific needs. When visiting an assisted living and memory care community, consider asking the following questions:

  • What do the care plans look like?

  • How are the care plans implemented?

  • What is the process if a care plan needs to change?

  • How often are care plans reviewed?

Medical Oversight and Medication Management

Assisted living and memory care communities should have a partnership with the local medical community in case of emergency and for routine care. Questions to ask:

  • Does the community have a partnership with a local pharmacy?

  • Does the community have a documentation process for medications?

  • Do trained medical professionals administer medications?

  • Does the community facilitate in-house visits from healthcare professionals(physicians, dentists, podiatrists, etc.)?

While this list provides excellent options for questions, there is an additional area you should pay attention to when visiting assisted living and memory care communities—your instinct. You know your loved one better than anyone else and what’s best for them. How did you feel when you pulled into the parking lot and walked into the building? How did you feel when you completed the tour?

Coupling your instinct with the questions provided will help you make the best decision for your family members. If you have any questions about the process of searching for an assisted living and memory care community for your loved one, we encourage you to speak with one of our care consultants today.