If you’ve never searched for a senior living community before, the task may seem overwhelming. This list of questions to ask can help you make an informed choice.

If you or a senior loved one is just beginning to explore senior living communities, it’s often tough to figure out where to start and what to look for. No family wants to choose a community only to find it’s not a good fit and be required to move again. A key factor in making an informed decision is asking the right questions.

Some questions are obvious ones, such as whether there is or will soon be an available apartment or how much the monthly fees are. But there are other equally important questions to ask during a visit that you might not be aware of. This list will help you focus on understanding which factors are essential to quality care and a supportive environment.

Must-Ask Questions during a Senior Living Community Tour

  1. How does the community screen, hire, and train team members?

Caregivers are the backbone of any senior living community. Finding a community that is able to attract and retain the best quality staff is vital. Ask the team members you talk with how they evaluate potential employees for trustworthiness and empathy, in addition to experience.

Also ask how potential caregivers are screened, including what kind of background checks are conducted. You’ll want to have confidence that the people who are caring for your senior loved one are honest and dependable.

Finally, inquire about the training process. Is there an in-depth orientation? What about after that initial training? Are there regular opportunities for staff to update skills?

  1. How long is the average team member’s tenure?

In addition to the number and quality of caregivers employed by a community, another important question to ask is how long staff stays at the senior living community. While these jobs are very rewarding, they can also be stressful and physically demanding. So, you will find turnover is higher in the aging services industry than in other fields.

That said, leading senior living communities tend to have low caregiver turnover. That continuity of care is vital for resident health and wellness, as well as family members’ peace of mind.

  1. What happens when a resident’s care needs change?

While no one wants to consider the worst, a resident’s care needs will usually change as they age. Make sure you ask what happens in these situations at every senior living community you visit.

If a senior develops Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, is specialized care available? How would the community handle it if a resident needs rehabilitation services following a hospital stay? Will the resident need to move to receive the care they need? Moving isn’t easy at any age, but it can be even more difficult for a senior who is experiencing health challenges.

  1. How are the monthly fees determined and what is included?

Monthly fees differ from one senior living community to the next. Some providers offer all-inclusive pricing, while others start with a base fee and assess care charges individually. Make sure you understand the pricing model for any community under consideration.

Ask for a list of services and amenities that are included in the monthly fee, and what additional charges you should expect to incur each month. Depending on the community, extra fees you may incur could include transportation, beauty/barber shop services, pet charges, laundry, and cable expenses.

Another element that can vary greatly is the contract terms. Be sure the contract includes how much notice your loved one is required to give before vacating, what happens to deposits and entrance fees (if there are any), and the length of the contract. Also look to see if the contract spells out when and by how much monthly fees can be increased.

Download Our Complimentary Funding Guide

If your family is like most, you might also be wondering how to fund a loved one’s move to a senior living community. Fortunately, there are many options to explore. We encourage you to download and review our complimentary funding guide. In it you’ll find information on topics ranging from creating a senior living budget to understanding the Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit.