As the number of older people in our community continues to increase, it’s also likely the number of housing options is increasing too. That makes it harder to choose the right community—either for yourself, or with a loved one. The most important thing you can do is explore possibilities together. We’ve provided a few questions for you to ask that should give you more insight into what you’ll find in any given community.
What is the quality of life here?
When you visit a possible new residence, you’ll likely find that current residents are your best resource. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they like living in their community! Participate in an activity and note how many people attend and whether they are engaged in the activity or not. Ask for an activity calendar that you and your loved one can review.
Are the surroundings clean and inviting?
If anything you see or smell concerns you, be sure to ask your guide about it. You want to be sure you are in an environment where you are confident about the sanitation—and completely comfortable with living there!
Take a look at the outdoor spaces as well as the indoor ones. Are there walking paths and gardens? Are there opportunities for residents to enjoy gardening? What about benches and other resting places if residents get tired? If security is a concern, ask about gates, monitoring policies and how resident safety is addressed.
What kind of care does the community provide? How will your loved one’s needs be met?
Because everyone’s level of care needs is different, it’s important to let staff know exactly what you are looking for. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the specifics offered in assisted living, independent living, rehabilitation and memory care. Ask about assistance with the daily tasks of living, including assistance with medications, bathing, dressing and attending meals or events around the building.
You’ll also want to see if residents with mobility issues are able to get around easily, and pay careful attention to the resident experience in memory care settings. Are residents in memory care encouraged to be as independent as they possibly can be? Do the activities offered engage them? What opportunities are there for outings or community involvement?
Are the staff kind and caring?
The importance of staff members to your loved one’s experience cannot be overstated. Ask residents how they feel about staff and ask management about the ratio of staff to residents. If residents feel warmly about staff members, they will likely give you an enthusiastic response. You should also take the time to observe staff and resident interactions throughout your visit.
What is the dining experience like?
Mealtime is central to the quality of life offered at every care community. Are there accommodations for dietary restrictions? Are the food choices fresh, healthy and tasty? What is service like in the dining room? Would you want to eat there again?
Is the community affordable?
No community, no matter how perfect it may seem, will work for you if it isn’t affordable. Ask about whether new residents have residency fees or deposits, or if rent is charged from month to month. Ask about additional charges beyond what is paid for the basics. Make sure you have a comprehensive pricing list before you leave, so you can compare it to other communities you tour as well.
While choosing the right community may take some time, asking the right questions can bring you a lot closer to finding what you want. Don’t be afraid to return to a community and tour it again before selecting it. Pay attention to your instincts, as well—as many times, you will “know” if a community feels like the right one. The answers you receive will confirm those feelings.
Decisions about moving or caring for a loved one can be difficult to navigate. At Cassia, (formerly Augustana Care and Elim Care), we are here to help. To learn more, please visit www.cassialife.org or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.