Evaluating communities can be daunting. Before you make any commitments, be sure that you tour and personally evaluate at least your top three choices. You may even decide to stop by several times at different hours of the day in order to see a variety of activities. You may make appointments but you can also drop by during reasonable daytime hours. Most senior housing communities will invite you and a guest to stay for a meal. Some may allow a short stay of a few days to a couple of weeks so you can test your overall compatibility.
Before You Arrive
- Is this independent living, assisted living or retirement community near friends, family, doctors or other needed services?
- Have you driven around the neighborhood? Are you comfortable here?
- Are there local stores, parks or other place where you can walk? Sidewalks? Paths?
- Is it near an active community or senior center?
- If interested, check for convenient public bus stops.
- Is this retirement community within your budget?
Things To Observe
- Is this facility visually clean, attractive and functional?
- Are there smells or aromas that are displeasing?
- Is the staff pleasant, respectful and attentive to you and the residents? Do there seem to be any language issues between staff and residents? Is the management staff available and involved?
- Are the residents active, engaged, cared for, and happy? Are activities posted and well-attended?
- Are the apartment and the common areas designed to suit your needs and lifestyle? Are there safety rails and grab bars installed in bathrooms, halls and other key locations? If needed, is there enough space for wheelchair maneuverability?
- Is there an emergency alert system and 24-hour staff?
- Is the dining room or service what you expect and like?
Things You Should Ask
- Talk to residents and their visitors about the home and the services that are provided. Ask them to tell you the advantages and disadvantages of living there.
- Are all licenses current and are there any violations or complaints?
- When talking to the administrator or marketer, ask who on the staff will accept inquiries or complaints from the resident and family or report to family members.
- Have your list of all the services and amenities that you wish for and ask if the senior community provides these. Ask if there is an extra charge or if it is included. Such as…
- Meals. How many and do they accommodate special diets?
- Housekeeping and linen service
- Emergency call system
- Utilities, phone, cable TV
- Parking or scheduled transportation
- Guest accommodations
- Kitchen or kitchenette (ask for a description)
- Laundry facilities and services
- Barber or beauty shop
- Exercise programs. Gym? Pool?
- Pet policy
- Projected increase in fees. How often? How much?
- Activities, trips, clubs. Frequency? Examples?
- Transportation to shopping or doctors
- Is there an apartment available now or is there a waiting list?
Jot down, while it is fresh in your mind, any observations, thoughts and feelings that occurred to you while visiting. Did you feel at ease? Was the place inviting?
As a final test you may wish to ask about the assisted living community inspection records maintained by the Community Care Division for the California Department of Social Services. Call your local county CCLD office or (916) 657-2592 for your local number.