Independent living communities are perfect for seniors looking to lead an independent life without being held back by the responsibilities of running a household. There is no shortage of American seniors choosing these communities as they seek more freedom and fewer responsibilities.
Each community offers different amenities and services, so to get the best experience, you have to pick the right one.
Considering this could be the new home for your loved one for the next few years, you can’t take any chances. The community, amenities and services offered have to be perfect. The community should also factor in the future needs of seniors and offer assisted living as well.
Most of the information you need to make your choice is available online. But for the details, you need a tour of the community, and while there, you ask a shortlist of questions to get you all the details that will help you choose the right community. This guide walks you through the question you should ask during your tour of the independent living retirement home.
Location and Accessibility
Typically, most families want a senior living community close to relatives that they can quickly get to and visit their loved one. That’s why the location of the community is crucial. You will also want to determine other factors like visitation and how your loved one can get around the community.
Other factors to consider are the amenities around the community, how close they are to the retirement community, and the availability of public transport. To find out more about the location and accessibility of the community, here are some of the questions you can ask during the tour:
- What is the proximity of the living community to essential services like pharmacies, grocery stores, medical care, restaurants, and shopping malls?
- Does the community have good lighting and sidewalks, how heavy is the traffic, and are there potential hazards like uneven sidewalks?
- Is there public transportation nearby, like a bus or train lines, and how often do they run?
- Does the community have accessibility features like wheelchair ramps for seniors with reduced mobility and their visitors?
- Does the community have elevators?
- Can my family visit, and can grand kids or other loved ones stay overnight?
- Do you provide additional accommodations if necessary?
Living Space Options and Floor Plans
Independent living communities in the United States often have different options and floor plans to suit different budgets and living requirements.
The cost of the community will depend on the floor plan and space options you pick. In many cases, you will find that all the information on space options isn’t readily accessible unless you ask. Here are some questions you can use to get more details on the living options available:
- What living spaces do you have, like condos, apartments, or single-family homes?
- What is the square footage of each option?
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms does each living option offer?
- What is the layout of the living space? Does it have any unique features different from other living spaces?
- What appliances and other fixtures come with each living space?
- Is it possible to customize each living space, and what level of customization is available?
- Do you have floor plans to enhance accessibility for residents with mobility challenges, like wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and wider doorways?
- What is the available amount of storage space available to residents?
- Are there any common areas like a fitness center or a library?
- How do the living spaces promote interaction and socialization among the residents?
Safety and Security Measures
Besides the lifestyle and comfort of your loved ones, you also need to find out how safe and secure they will be at the care community. In many cases, this is not something you can get on the brochure.
During the walk, you may notice some of the security features, like fencing. For others, you have to ask the right questions to get a complete picture:
- What security measures do you have in place to protect residents and their valuables, like surveillance cameras and onsite security personnel?
- How do you handle emergencies? Do you have emergency call systems installed in each living space?
- Do you have safety features like fire alarms, sprinkler systems and smoke detectors installed in each living space?
- How do you handle and screen visitors entering the community, and do you have any restrictions on who can visit?
- What is the procedure for reporting safety and security incidents, and how do you escalate and solve them?
- Do you have caregivers and staff members on-site round the clock?
- Are the staff members trained in first aid and emergency response?
- Are there movement restrictions on the residents within the community and how are such restrictions enforced?
- How does the community ensure the confidentiality and privacy of the residents?
- Are the residents notified about potential safety concerns like crime alerts and inclement weather?
Health and Wellness Services
The healthcare and wellness needs will vary from resident to resident. Some independent living communities might not offer everything your loved one needs.
That’s why you should have a checklist of questions to ask when choosing an assisted senior care community to determine if they have the expertise and the services your loved one needs.
Here are some about health and wellness questions to ask when moving to an assisted living community:
- What health care services do you have available on-site? Do you have a doctor, rehabilitation services, physical therapy or a nurse?
- Do you have wellness programs like fitness classes, yoga, or water aerobics?
- What level of training have the staff received in health-related medical fields?
- Do you offer medication management services, and how do you administer medication to the residents?
- How do you handle medical emergencies, and what is the procedure for contacting emergencies services?
- How do you maintain high standards of cleanliness and sanitation within the community, and how do you monitor this?
- Does the community promote mental health and well-being through social activities and counselling services?
- What other health and wellness policies or initiatives like smoking cessation, cancer screening or annual health check-ups do you have for the residents?
Dining Options and Nutrition?
Every Assisted living community often has a meal plan charted out, and the staff can give you the plans. In case you don’t get a pamphlet without this information, you can ask questions to find out more about nutrition and dining choices:
- What meals do you provide, and how many meals are served daily?
- Do you have any dietary restrictions or accommodations for special diets like low-salt diets or vegetarian?
- Do you provide any level of customization for the meals, like substitutions or special requests?
- How involved are the residents in meal planning and menu selection?
- Do you have special dining amenities like outdoor dining or private dining rooms?
- What is the policy for guests or visitors joining residents for meals? Do you have additional costs or restrictions?
- How are additional food and beverage requests handled, such as special event catering or room service?
Social And Recreational Activities
An independent living community is a great chance to build new bonds and find new hobbies. But this is only possible if the community has robust social and recreational activities. Here’s how you can find out more about this:
- What types of social and recreational activities do you have?
- Are there restrictions such as age or health requirements to take part in these activities?
- Are the residents involved in the planning and organizing of these activities?
- Does the community have shared spaces and amenities for socializing, like a community room or game room?
- How involved are the staff in organizing and facilitating the activities, and what kind of training do they have?
- Do residents have access to outdoor spaces like the garden or a swimming pool?
- Are there additional charges for participating in these activities?
- Do you plan special events or celebrations organized on special holidays and residents’ birthdays?
- Do you have excursions and trips organized for the residents?
Housekeeping and Maintenance
One of the reasons retirees love independent living communities is that they don’t have to worry about the daily upkeep of the house.
While some independent living community will do the basics like laundry, you need to have some follow-up questions to determine the scope and quality of their maintenance and housekeeping:
- What level of housekeeping services are offered?
- Can these services be customized, or are they flexible?
- How involved are residents in maintaining their living spaces, and are there guidelines or restrictions for keeping their spaces organized and tidy?
- Do you provide any maintenance services like repairs and replacements of fixtures?
- How quickly to do you respond to maintenance requests, and how are they prioritized?
- Are there tools available to help residents report and address housekeeping and maintenance issues?
- Do you conduct background checks, training and other safety and security measures before hiring the maintenance staff?
- What are the policies for accessing the residents’ living spaces for maintenance and housekeeping?
Staff and Management
You need to know the staff and the people that are responsible for the care and safety of your loved ones. In most cases, this information won’t be available on the website or brochure you receive, but you can get it by asking questions:
- Does your staff have any training and experience in providing care or managing the community?
- What is your staff-to-resident ratio?
- How involved are the residents in the hiring and evaluation of staff members? Do they get a chance to provide feedback or suggestions?
- What is the preferred method of communication between the staff and residents, and how is essential information passed?
- How accessible is the community’s management to the residents and their family members?
- What is your policy for handling complaints or concerns?
- What is the level of diversity inclusivity in the staff and management of the community?
- What is your level of staff retention, and how do you address turnover or staffing shortages?
While you want the best care possible, the cost can be a large factor. You need to know what the cost implications are. To be sure you have the full picture here are some questions:
- What is the monthly fee for living in the community, and what does it cover?
- Are there additional charges for meals and transportation, and can residents opt in or out of such services?
- How do you handle financial disputes or concerns like disagreements in fees or billing errors?
- What is the level of accountability in the financial management of the community in terms of legal compliance?
- Does the community provide financial assistance or subsidies for residents requiring financial assistance?
- Are residents involved in the financial decision-making or planning of the community, and can they provide feedback and suggestions on the same?
- How does the community handle insurance and liability issues like emergencies and accidents?
Resident Satisfaction and Testimonials
The best way to gauge if a living community is as good as it says is by finding out the residents' satisfaction levels. Here are some questions to ask in these communities:
- What is your level of resident satisfaction, and which methods do you use to track and measure residents’ satisfaction?
- How engaged are residents in giving feedback and testimonials about their experience in the community?
- What is your level of transparency in sharing the feedback and testimonials from residents?
- What is the policy on negative feedback and testimonials from residents, and how do you ensure issues are resolved effectively and in a timely fashion?
- What is the level of resident retention, and what are the commonly cited factors for residents who choose to continue living at the community?
- How involved are residents in promoting the community to others through referrals and community outreach?
- Is it possible to talk to some of their residents and get their experiences firsthand?
Unique Offerings and Amenities
Besides the basic packages that some living communities offer, there are others that go above and beyond to make your stay as productive as possible by having unique amenities and offerings. You can find out more about such offerings by asking the following questions:
- Do you offer any unique amenities and features different from other independent living options?
- What is the level of accessibility for these amenities?
- What is the policy for using these amenities, are there extra charges?
- What is the level of diversity and inclusivity in the offerings and amenities?
- How involved is the management in promoting or organizing events and activities related to these amenities?
- What is the level of environmental sustainability and energy efficiency in the community, and what efforts do you make to minimize waste and conserve resources?
- Do you involve the resident in promoting sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices like composting and recycling?
These questions can help you make the most out of your tour by assisting you in gathering as much information as possible about the community living facilities under consideration and determining if they are ideal for your seniors.
In addition to the questions, it is important to take time to research and evaluate the various options available. Doing so will save unnecessary trips and make it easier to rule out unsuitable choices.
We is recommended you schedule a tour with Danbury to learn more about our amenities, floor plan, community spaces, and provide an opportunity to envision you or your loved one living here.