Deb Tastic, Senior Living Extraordinaire
Over my career in senior living, I have lost track of how many adult children and seniors I have toured, but I’m guessing it’s in the thousands. Most all the families and potential residents that I worked with had many of the same questions and concerns when touring senior living communities.
Here are some of my top tips to help you through Tour Day and to ultimately determine what will be the best senior living community to meet your specific needs and wants.Many of my families who ultimately knew that they made the right choice, toured with a check list. Some were fancy, some were rudimentary, lots were in between. They made a list of the items that were important to them to have in their new home. Some of those items were:
- Meal Plans/Delivery
- Scheduled Transportation
- Utilities included
- Lease terms including the ability to severe the lease
- Community fee and frequency paid
- Care Levels included and/or payment and what’s included in care levels
- Doctor and other health specialists on-site
- Emergency pendants and response time/personnel
Ask what are the community’s options when mom/dad runs out of private funds and they need to access their Medicaid benefit. Do they partner with state Medicaid? Do you have to leave and find a new home? Either is ok, but it is best to know upfront so you can prepare for the future.You’ll see them in the hall – stick out a hand, introduce yourself and ask them questions such as, “How does your job directly impact that of my loved one?” You are looking for staff who know their job roles and how they make a positive impact on the people that they are caring for. Each department directly impacts your loved one’s experience in senior living from housekeeping, to grounds, to the billing office.Bring a measuring tape, notepad and pencil to take measurements of the potential apartment. Pull out your camera to capture where closets are, bathrooms and other features. You’ll find this very helpful later when furniture planning and making a realistic list of what you can and can’t bring to your new home.Don’t be shy to ask them how they like their home. Most often, the seniors who live there are the most honest about the ins and outs of the community. If you are touring a Memory Care Community, find family members and ask them instead of the residents.Sure, some prospective residents think that the meal offer is a way to trap you into singing a lease, but what it does is two-fold. First, it allows you to try the food, which is extremely important when you have someone else cooking for you. And, secondly, it gives you an opportunity to assess the folks who live there. How do they interact with each other? Are they friendly? Do they welcome you and seem generally interested in welcoming you as a neighbor?Just because you toured on a Friday afternoon does not give you a complete snapshot of the senior living property that you are considering as your next home. Different days of the week and different times of the day have different vibes. I would suggest 3 tours. One in the morning, one in the afternoon/early evening and one on the weekend. With these tours under your belt, you are better equipped to determine if the senior living property is the best choice for you.Responsiveness and good communication from the senior living community will be key to knowing that the choice you made was the right one for you. Did they call you to follow-up? Did they ask you questions and more importantly, did they answer yours? Communication is important once you live there, so make sure it’s to your satisfaction before you get there.