8 Tips for Touring a Senior Living Community
When you’ve decided to search for a senior living community for an older relative, you want to feel confident that they’re matched with a facility where they will thrive and have an excellent quality of life. Whether your loved one needs Assisted Living, Memory Care, or will be living independently, touring prospective facilities is an essential step in the process.
Why would you need to tour the communities? Think of it this way: you wouldn’t buy a home based on website pictures and brochures. You want to see the property up close to inspect it first-hand and make sure it feels like home.
The same principle applies to finding the right senior living community. The facility you choose together will be your older relative’s home for many years, and it’s crucial to ensure that they feel safe and are well looked after.
However, touring senior living communities on your own can be daunting as it involves many minute details that can dramatically affect the older person’s quality of life. If this is your first time and you’re attempting this in the Long Island area without the help of an advisor, here are eight tips that should help:
1. Know what type of community you’re looking for
No two senior communities are alike. Each has its individual dynamic and rhythm – the trick is finding the right one for your older loved one. For example, would they thrive better in a highly socialized environment or one that’s more laid back? Do they enjoy a variety of physical or outdoor activities? Which interests do they enjoy the most? Knowing exactly what you’re looking for will make whittling down your long list of communities much more manageable and result in finding a facility where the older adult feels right at home.
2. Consult with an independent senior living advisor
Meet with an advisor who specializes in connecting older people with senior living communities before you schedule any tours. They can review your loved one’s needs and help whittle down your list so you’re only targeting the best-fit communities. Advisors can also give you valuable advice about what to look for during your tour so you go in as informed as possible.
3. Inspect the condition of the facility
How does the facility look from a maintenance point of view? Things such as narrow, cluttered hallways, peeling paint, poor lighting, and generally unkempt conditions say a lot about how much pride management puts into the community. Also, the above areas are the ones you can see – imagine the state of the places you can’t?
4. Observe how the staff behaves
Do the employees smile and make eye contact when they see you? Or do they seem tired, stressed, and overworked? If the latter, it could indicate that they feel they’re treated poorly or that the facility is understaffed (check the staff-to-resident ratio for a more precise indication). Happy, smiling employees are likely to treat the residents better, which is what you want for your loved one.
5. Check the staff’s relationship with the residents
Further to the above point, watch to see that the staff treat the residents with dignity and respect and that the residents openly communicate back. You want them to be patient, empathetic, and responsive to your older loved one’s needs. Remember, people tend to be on their best behavior when they know someone’s watching, so try to remain inconspicuous when making your observations.
6. Inquire about medical facilities and area hospitals
Different facilities will provide different levels of healthcare services, so don’t assume that the one you’re touring will have onsite doctors, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals. If they do, ask about their licensing and credentials. If the facility doesn’t offer on-demand 24-hour medical care or your loved ones’ family doctor is too far away from the community, ask whether physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare services are nearby.
7. Eat a meal with the residents
Visiting the communal dining hall for dinner will allow you to test the quality and nutritional value of the food served by the community chefs. It also gives you a glimpse into something else vitally important: how the residents act during mealtime. Are they socializing with one another at the table? Is the mood upbeat? Do they appear to be enjoying the food? Play close attention to the overall vibe of the dining hall to help determine whether your older loved one will be happy there.
8. Ask about day trips and transportation
The community may offer a wide array of fun indoor and outdoor activities, but day trips to shopping centers, theaters, and casinos can be exciting too. Ask about nearby places of interest and whether the community provides transportation to them.
Should my parents come on the senior living community tour?
The answer to this question depends on your loved one’s condition. Will they have the energy to visit several locations? Would their condition distract you from paying attention to the details you need to make an informed assessment?
I would recommend that you visit the facilities on the long list on your own. Once you have a shortlist of two or three communities, bring your older relative to see those.
Help with touring senior living communities on Long Island
Assessing multiple senior living communities can be a daunting experience, especially if you’re unsure of the process.
That’s why you can count on Assisted Living Locators of Long Island for help matching your loved one with the most suitable Assisted Living, Memory Care, Independent Living, or other senior living option. We’ll do all the research based on your loved one’s needs, present a list of best-suited facilities in the Long Island area, and accompany you on the community tour to ensure all your questions and concerns are answered.
Contact Assisted Living Locators of Long Island when you’re ready to explore senior living community options for the older person in your life. We’re always happy to help.