If you or a loved one are considering moving into a senior living community, it is important to know exactly what to expect and taking a tour is often a perfect first step. For convenience, many communities offer in-person tours as well as virtual (online) tours. A little preparation is key to getting the most out of a senior living tour experience. Here are some tips for things to look for, ask about and consider.
Sign Up for an In-Person or Virtual Tour
While it can be helpful to visit a senior living community in person, at times it may be more convenient to take advantage of a virtual tour from the comfort of your own home. Many senior living communities, such as Lighthouse Senior Living, offer comprehensive online tours. Virtual tours provide an opportunity to get a sense of the layout and grounds of the community, see the shared spaces and a senior apartment and perhaps view some activities and the dining area. Virtual tours are often accompanied by or followed up with a question and answer session with a staff member. Some people may find it helpful to take a virtual tour of a community first, and then schedule an in-person visit. In either case, it is important to find out as much as you can about the senior living community and how its offerings match up with your criteria. Below are some items to consider when assessing a senior living community.
Ask About Staff and Their Qualifications
Since you or your loved one will be interacting with staff on a daily basis and also relying on them to help ensure important needs are met, you will want to have a good understanding of the qualifications and demeanor of staff members. Here are a few other things to consider when it comes to the senior living staff:
- Ask about professional licenses and certifications.
- Inquire about their training and experience.
- Ensure that background checks are performed for all employees.
- Look for a low staff-to-resident ratio.
- Consider if they seem to be caring and compassionate.
- Observe if staff appear to be attuned to both the physical and emotional needs of residents.
Consider Layout and Design
The layout of a senior living community is very important. A resident will be much more comfortable in an environment that is a good fit for them as an individual. When viewing the common areas and hallways, consider if the space is so expansive that it might feel intimidating, or so small that it might feel claustrophobic. When touring an individual senior apartment, consider if it has all the features you are looking for and inquire if residents are permitted to paint or update the apartment to reflect their own personal style and taste. This is also a good time to ask about the availability and frequency of housekeeping, laundry and linen change services. Lastly, you will want to be sure the community is clean and tidy and observes regular sanitizing protocols.
Look at Safety and Security
Security and safety are important for people of all ages, but some seniors may have additional needs in this area. Inquire about how the community is monitored, how access is granted and what protocols are in place for healthcare or weather-related emergencies. For residents with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, it will be important to find out how the community prevents or addresses wandering and confusion, and even trips or falls.
Evaluate the Dining Experience
Food plays an important role in senior communities, in terms of both nutrition and socialization. The best senior living communities offer flexibility and choice in dining. Meals that are both delicious and nutritious, utilize fresh ingredients and offer a variety of options are something that residents will enjoy and look forward to. Ask to view sample menus and also take a look at the various dining spaces to see if they look conducive to connecting and socializing. If you take an in-person tour, you may even be able to sample a meal.
Observe the Community in Action
One of the most important aspects of touring a senior living community is to get a sense of its “personality”. To some extent, this is a little subjective and some communities resonate better with some than others. Overall though, it is important to find a community that is friendly, welcoming and intellectually stimulating. Ask about the types of activities that are offered. Having access to a variety of programs, such as fitness classes, art or music events, clubs and community programs helps keep residents engaged and stimulated and provides important opportunities for social interaction. Being part of a vibrant, interconnected community is beneficial for longevity, well-being and overall levels of happiness.
Lighthouse Senior Living has two close-knit and vibrant communities – one located in Howard County and the other near Middle River in Baltimore County. Contact us today to schedule a virtual tour or in-person tour of our communities.