Even if you've already decided that assisted living is the best option for you, a tour is essential before choosing your community. Descriptions and photos simply cannot compare to seeing a place in person and experiencing the feel of the environment firsthand. However, we know that visiting multiple communities can feel overwhelming. We can make the process easier with these tips on what to look for when touring an assisted living community and how to compare the places you visit.
Before touring an assisted living community
The process of touring assisted living communities can be time-intensive. As such, you don't want to waste time touring communities that won't be a good fit for you. That's why it is important to start your search online first and consider these things:
- Determine your wants and needs – First, determine your must-haves, like a particular location, a community that's pet friendly, or that has private apartments. Then, identify preferences such as having a full kitchen versus a kitchenette, a community with plenty of outdoor space, or some utilities included in the monthly rent. Lastly, make a list of nice-to-haves such as concierge services, a 24-hour fitness center, or private transportation.
- Clarify your search – There are usually many assisted living communities in an area, especially if you live in a large city, so it's important to be specific when you search. For example, use "assisted living in city, state" versus simply "assisted living."
- Research the community websites – Next, head to the senior living community websites that come up based on your search. With your wants and needs in mind, you'll want to check out services and amenities, image galleries, activity calendars, and floor plans to see how each assisted living community measures up.
- Follow their social media accounts – Most assisted living communities are active on social media, and this is where you'll get a true sense of the personality of each, plus what daily life is like for the residents there. This is also where you can learn about upcoming events to attend and/or even move-in specials that may be available, so following the socials of the communities you are interested in is key.
- Go beyond the community – Of course, any assisted living community will present itself in the best light on its own website and socials, so it's important to check online reviews for all those you're considering to gauge their reputation as well!
When touring an assisted living community
At this point, you should be able to narrow your search to two or three top contenders to tour. However, when touring each assisted living community, you'll have an easier time comparing your options if you're looking for the same things and asking the same questions. Here's an example to get you started:
Accommodations and Campus
- What accommodations are available? Are there private and semi-private options? What are the differences in cost for each?
- Is community occupancy high or low?
- What is the location like?
- Can residents personalize their space?
- Is the assisted living community well maintained?
- How do you feel about the accommodations' appearance, comfort, cleanliness, and dining, common, and outdoor areas?
Lifestyle and Wellness
- Does the menu have a variety of nutritious and appealing offerings? Can you sample the food?
- Does the assisted living community accommodate special dietary restrictions or requests?
- What programs (exercise, wellness, enrichment, social, etc.) are available?
- How often do residents leave the community for outside activities?
- How often are housekeeping and laundry services provided?
- Are there enough 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 assisted living community pet-friendly?
- Is scheduled transportation offered?
Staff and Care
- What level of daily assistance can residents expect?
- What qualifications are required for the assisted living 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 and Security
- How does the community handle medical emergencies?
- How is the assisted living community secured?
- What safety features are available?
- What are the monthly costs for housing and care?
- What services are included in those costs? What services are add-ons?
- What are the payment options?