Asking More Questions When Comparing Senior Communities - Part II

In a previous blog, we introduced the importance of asking the right questions when comparing and, ultimately, choosing a senior community for oneself or a loved one. Many times, the search is a comparison of apples to oranges because there are such broad differences among the thousands of choices in the U.S. alone.

Happy beautiful relaxed mature older adult grey-haired woman drinking coffee relaxing on sofa at home. Smiling stylish middle aged 60s lady enjoying resting sitting on couch in modern living room.

Let’s recap the essential questions to guide your decision:

  1. Levels of Care:
    • What care options are available – independent living, personal care, memory care, skilled nursing?
    • Does the community support “aging in place” for changing care needs?
  2. Services Offered:
    • Request a detailed list of services included in the pricing structure.
    • Evaluate the overall value based on offerings like meal preparation, utilities, housekeeping, transportation, and amenities.
  3. Cost Structure:
    • Understand the breakdown of costs, including all-inclusive rates and additional fees.
    • Inquire about entrance fees or monthly rental fees that may change with evolving needs.

For a deeper dive into your search, consider the following:

  • How available and well-trained is your staff?

Staff members are as much a part of a senior community family as fellow residents. Look for friendly, positive, affirming employees in all areas, and observe how they interact with current residents. Ask what health care professionals are on staff in various care levels (physicians, nurses, aides, therapists) and what services they can or cannot administer. What certifications, qualifications and specialized training do they have?

  • What living spaces do you offer?

Some residents may relish the opportunity to downsize from a big home into a smaller, more manageable space. Others may wish to retain larger quarters with more sprawling floor plans. Living space is a major consideration for joyful daily life, and it’s wise to view all available floor plans as well as living areas, gardens, neighborhood layout, etc. Tour actual apartments or residences, if possible, and be sure to ask about furnishings and options to customize décor and/or layout. Also, inquire about in-unit safety features such as pull cords and grab bars.

  • Are there ample activities and social opportunities here?

Opportunities to cultivate interests, continue lifelong learning and make new friends are paramount at any age. A quality senior community will offer plenty of activities, programs, outings and events to foster friendships and spark creativity, knowledge, self-expression and just plain fun. A culture of warmth, openness and inclusion is essential to a happy transition to senior living. Tune in to the “vibe” you feel while touring a community, and don’t hesitate to ask what measures are in place to welcome and acclimate new people.

  • Is wellness a priority?

Beyond meal plans and dining options (which generally fall under the purview of the aforementioned services provided), make sure to ask about staff dedicated to nutrition, such as chefs and dietitians. Inquire about fitness, too, including instructors, facilities and services. Are there ongoing strength, balance and mobility classes? Is there an exercise equipment room? Make sure to tour such amenities and, if possible, observe activity in progress.

  • What are the core values of your community?

One of the most important (and often overlooked) sections of a community’s website is “About Us” or “Our Mission.” Here is where you can discover the fundamental goals, values and principles that drive the entire organization. Pay close attention to these sections to make sure they align with your own personal values and beliefs. But don’t stop at the website! Ask your guide for examples of how these values and objectives play out in daily life. A good community will be pleased to share examples and ideals with you.

  • Are there opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and the greater community?

A major consideration for many people as they’re exploring senior communities is geographical location and accessibility to the outside community. Depending on the individual, this could be a bustling metropolis or a peaceful setting with vast natural beauty (or something in between). Much can be known about an area before the first step in the door, but what isn’t always so clear is how engaged residents are in the greater surroundings in meaningful ways. Don’t hesitate to ask! Many senior communities have rich relationships with programs and initiatives in the area and are intentional about facilitating access to them.

And Lastly, a Friendly Thought…

Proactively choose your ideal living situation before any urgent circumstances arise, ensuring you can make decisions without the pressure of a crisis. Know the signs that an aging loved on may need help before an emergency occurs and anticipate potential challenges. Taking a proactive approach in looking at senior living options paves the way for a well-informed decision with positive outcomes.

Barclay Friends Is Here to Help

Barclay Friends offers residential living, personal care, memory care and skilled nursing care.  We are a compassionate and knowledgeable community of professionals happy to answer all your questions. We understand that deciding on a senior community can be a lot so we are here to guide you on the journey every step of the way.

Let us guide you towards a vibrant and fulfilling senior living experience. Contact us at 610.696.5211 to learn more today.