If you have reached the point where you or your loved one may need senior housing, you may be wondering what sort of questions you should ask each facility. Of course, medical conditions, facilities and care are at the top of the list and are the primary consideration when creating a list of potential senior housing facilities but what else might be important to consider?
To learn more about senior care facilities and housing options, please review our two part series in which we provide summaries of the most common long-term and short-term senior care and elder care facilities. Before making a final decision, discuss the medical condition, needs and elder care preferences with your loved one, their doctor and insurance providers.
As part of your decision making process, you may first need to have an assessment to determine the aging individual’s activities of daily living (ADL), such as bathing, dressing, grooming, bathroom assistance, eating and mobility. You should also consider any current medial requirements, prescriptions and the individual’s ability to move about independently.
In part one of this two part series, we’ll cover the most common questions to consider for any senior housing facility. In the second part of the series, we’ll provide some additional questions about health care and living space specifically for independent vs. assisted living & skilled nursing facilities.
THE PROPERTY AND GROUNDS
- Are the building and the grounds maintained, well kept and attractive?
- Are all areas inside and out handicap accessible – are there handrails, large doorways with wheelchair access and ramps? Are there elevators or any steps or rough ground that could be difficult to navigate with a cane, walker or wheelchair? If there is a pool, is it handicap accessible as well?
- Is it well lighted inside and out?
- Is it easy to find your way around – is there easy to read signage?
- Is there 24/7 security?
- Does it smell clean and pleasant?
- How far is it from your home?
- Are there any restrictions for visitors and do visitors have to sign in or pass through a security point?
- Are residents restricted outside access or can they come and go freely? Do residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia live in a separate area with more restricted access to unsupervised areas and/or outdoors?
- Are the common areas clean, comfortable and provide a variety of activities?
- Are all the posts staffed – front desk, dinning area, housekeeping, healthcare/nurses station?
- Is the front desk staff friendly?
- Do you receive a prompt response to your questions (in person, by phone or via email)?
- How difficult is it to reach someone?
- Are messages returned?
- Do the staff members know the residents and interact with them appropriately?
- How do the residents contact staff members and how difficult is that to do?
- How does the staff assist or identify someone who is experiencing limited mobility or memory issues?
- What types of medical professionals are on staff and how often do they visit the residents?
- Who would be your staff point of contact if you have a concern, trouble reaching your loved one or there is a medical emergency?
- Do the residents look well, clean and are socializing?
- Are they using the common areas?
- Are they friendly and willing to talk about the facility and community?
- Are they all approximately at the same level of mental and physical ability? If not, what assistance is provided?
- Are there multiple dining options available – meals to go or delivered to a resident’s room if the resident prefers not to eat in the dining room? If so, are there fees for those options?
- How many meals and/or snacks are available and served in the dining room?
- Which meals are included in your monthly fee?
- Are their kitchen facilities in the residents’ rooms? If not, are residents allowed to have a select items, such as a microwave, small refrigerator or plug in kettle?
- Are there beverages or snacks available to residents throughout the day?
- Is there more than one option available for a main course? What foods are available every day?
- How are dietary restrictions handled – Kosher, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, diabetic, high cholesterol, etc?
- Is the menu publicly posted and is there a monthly menu available for your review?
- Is there a private dining room available to the residents for special events?
- How are the portions? Does the food look good and fresh? Do the residents seem to be enjoying their meals?
- Can you dine there while you are considering the facility?
- Can you eat with your loved one if they are a resident? How is that arranged?
- Is there an activity calendar publicly posted? Is there a newsletter and can you review several issues?
- What services are available? Laundry, housekeeping and/or transportation?
- Is there transportation available for doctor appointments, shopping or special events? How often, how far and is there a fee for transportation services?
- Are there recreation facilities on site? Gym, fitness and educational classes, pool, walking trails?
- What special events are available – on site and off site?
- Is there a hair salon on site? Is there a nail salon?
- Is there Internet service – in resident rooms, common areas?
- Are there newspaper delivery and TV available – in resident rooms, common areas only?
- Are there any accommodations for overnight guests?
- Is there anyone on staff that could help residents to video-conference with out-of-town family or friends?
- Ask for a comprehensive break down of fees, what is included in monthly fee and what services are extra
- Are utilities included in the fees?
- Are there any types of insurance that can be used toward payment?
- How often and how much can fees be raised?
- What happens if you run out of funds?
- What conditions or circumstances could result in termination of your contract/agreement?
- What is a procedure for a grievance or complaint?
- What happens if the resident needs a higher level of care?
- Make sure you thoroughly read and understand any contract before you sign it. If you have any concerns, consider consulting an attorney.
Determining the best type of senior living arrangements, the appropriate level of care and caregivers you can trust can sometimes feel overwhelming. If you or a family member is no longer able to live independently, please contact CalRegistry to discuss the options and learn about assisted living services and facilities throughout California.