Tips on Touring Senior Communities (with checklist!)
#1 Work with a local senior placement service
Why? Because these are the experts on senior living in your community. They will help you narrow down your search to the communities that are the best fit for you or your senior loved one. They will help you identify senior communities that fit your needs, budget and preferred geographic location. A good senior expert is in and out of the local communities and know which ones have availability, what their pricing looks like, pricing specials/incentives they are offering, activities & events that match yours or your loved ones desires. For example, if your mother enjoys gardening and playing bridge, she will be matched with a community that offers those activities. A good local service will not overwhelm you with 20 communities to visit, they will fine tune your search down to the top 2-3 communities that are the best match.
#2 Who is going on the tour?
Should you take your senior loved one with you? If your mom and dad are independent, they should be fine touring with you. As mentioned above though, be sure you are using a good placement service that has created a list of only 2-3 communities. If your loved one has short-term memory loss or mobility issues, it’s best to pre-tour, and then take them to tour your top 1 or 2 choices. If they have dementia, you should be making this decision for them.
#3 Visual Inspection
When you drive up to the community, take a good look at the outside grounds. Is the landscaping well maintained or is it unkempt? What about the Inside of the community? Is it clean, and welcoming. Are there any offensive smells?
#4 Speak up! Ask lots of questions.
Ask about meals, special diets, Activities, Transportation. If you are touring Assisted Living or Memory Care ask about Caregiver ratios. Ask about their COVID-19 policy. This is always changing and many Assisted Livings are only able to do virtual tours not in person tours.
#5 Interact with all Staff & Residents
Be sure that you are introduced to the Executive Director. The person touring you is the Director of Sales or Sales Counselor. Their role is to educate you on the community, but after you move in, the Executive Director will be the person answering any questions that may arise. Be sure to meet the Activities Director and Chef – remember, Social interaction and meals are the top reasons that seniors move to senior living. A good community will introduce you to their housekeepers, bus driver and if it is an assisted living, their nurse and caregivers. Take note of everyone you meet…are they friendly and courteous? Do they take time to answer your questions?
Next, let’s talk about the residents. Are they engaged and energized? Ask if there is a Resident Ambassador program where they buddy new residents up with a resident ambassador to show them the ropes! A resident ambassador will accompany your senior loved one to the dining room and to activities. Whether you are 14 or 94, it can feel awkward walking into a room where everyone knows each other. The resident ambassador is a friendly face to ease the adjustment to their new home. Ask residents for their feedback. What do they like about the community. How long have they lived there, and what prompted their move to senior living.
#6 Taste the food!
Have a meal in the dining room – lunchtime is best, because most residents attend this meal. This allows you to see the people who live there and gives you a good feel for the community and if it’s a fit. This also gives you the opportunity to speak with the Chef and ask about any allergies or dietary concerns.
#7 Call your senior placement advisor
Once you’ve completed your tour, call your senior placement advisor. They are your guide through this process, and are eager to hear what you liked or didn’t like about the communities you toured. You may have questions that you didn’t think of during the tour, that they can answer. They can serve as a sounding board as you compare the communities you’ve toured, and if none were a fit, they can help you find others to tour.
#8 Go with your gut
Which one feels the most comfortable. There are so many different communities – some are modern and contemporary, others are older and the feel a bit dated. Remember that you are looking for the community that feels the most familiar and comfortable to your loved one. All things being equal, it boils down to what feels right.
To learn more about senior living and touring, listen to episode 26 where I go into more detail on touring:
If you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and ready to begin your search, please contact me for assistance. This is a free service and my team and I would be honored to help you find the perfect senior community for you or your loved one.
Lori Williams – Senior Services, LLC