October 2, 2020

10 Questions to Ask When Considering Senior Living Communities

Planning a Move, Why Senior Living?

There are many reasons to think about moving to an independent or assisted senior living community. Seniors often want to downsize from 2 bedroom apartments to free up time and energy. Some may want to consolidate costs, while others are looking for new social circles and activity groups. And some may need a little help. When it comes time to choosing a retirement community, knowing what questions to ask will help you make the choice that’s right for you or your loved one. Here are a few suggested questions to help you get started.

What activities do you offer to help keep residents engaged?

Checking out the current activity calendar will give you a glimpse into how the community offers residents ways to enjoy and take care of themselves. Outings to sports events and symphony performances, fitness classes, and activity groups are all ways to help the residents stay engaged and connected. With many group activities paused during the pandemic, it may help to learn how the community is helping residents stay engaged safely.

Is there a clear list of what the monthly rent includes, and also what it doesn’t include?

Every community likely produces an informational pamphlet or paper with a full list of the services included in the monthly rent. Asking for this will save you the effort of taking notes and it reduces the risk of you missing a detail.

What care options do you offer?

This information can help you identify what you want and need in your living arrangement, both now and in the future. And it’s important to know what to expect when accommodating and treating changes to your health. For example, at Era Living communities, independent residents who are in good health when they move in can receive additional care in the future if they need it. And they don’t have to move out of their apartments to receive these assisted living services. In other communities or care models, you may have to move apartments or to a different building on campus to receive higher levels of care.

What safety and communication protocols are in place during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Knowing how a community is protecting their residents can help provide peace of mind when considering moving during the pandemic. It’s also helpful to understand a community’s approach to COVID-19 testing and details on recent positive cases. We suggest asking exactly how staff is communicating with residents and their loved ones when there are new positive cases in the community and what precautions residents should be taking.

Is there a penalty fee for an early lease cancellation, and how much notice is required?

While you may be planning to live at a community for years to come, unexpected events do happen. It’s important to note ahead of time any charges for an early move-out ahead of your lease renewal date.

Have there been any management changes recently, and how has that affected the senior living community?

Ask about both local and home office management, and if there have been any changes that have affected the staff, services, and residents. And sometimes it can matter if the home or corporate office is local or far away, affecting communications and care directives.

One way to learn more about management is by meeting a few residents. Many seniors considering independent or assisted living don’t know that it’s almost always an option to come in and partake in ‘a day in the life’ with other residents. They just have to ask.

What are the security measures for the building and for resident rooms?

You may want to ask about entry security (like codes, key fobs, or keys for the commercial doors) and any other forms of security, like a security guard or business security cameras. This will help give you an idea of the building environment and personal safety.

Can I get a copy of the state survey evaluation?

The state of Washington surveys all licensed senior living communities based on safety, building conditions, care services, interviews with residents, and other requirements. By law, each licensed community must have the evaluation as a hard copy in the building and also available to send through email. As a public document, it’s available for anyone to view or request, and contains valuable current community ratings.

What is the culture like at your senior living community?

All communities develop their own culture, influenced by the city, geographical area, size, and resident interests. Do you prefer a smaller, more intimate setting that is quietly tucked away? Or do you like the more bustling feel of the city? Are you someone who enjoys intellectual stimulation, fine arts, social events, or fun games? Knowing your own preferences and then getting a better understanding of a community’s culture can help you find a home that best matches your lifestyle.

Is there a waitlist?

Many retirement communities fill up fast and have a waitlist for those who want to move in at a future date. If the community that you are interested in has a waitlist, it is recommended that you join so that when an apartment becomes available, you’ll be one of the first to know. If you are planning for the future, it is helpful to get on waitlists early so that when you are ready for a move, you have your first choice in location.

The right questions can help narrow down your options and ensure you find a retirement community that best suits your lifestyle and needs. If you’re ready to start learning more about our Era Living senior living communities, contact us today to set up a tour.