Visiting an Assisted Living Community? Ask About the Basics and Get to the Heart of It All.

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Most shopping trips are fun even when they’re hectic. You know what you want and what to look for. When the salesperson asks if you need help or have any questions, it’s likely you won’t require assistance. But touring an assisted living community may be a new kind of shopping experience. Even if it’s not your first visit, it can be hard to know what to ask—and it’s even more difficult to discern whether what you learned is the answer you should expect. 

When visiting an assisted living community, there are two sets of questions worth considering. Let’s call the first set “The Basics.” The second set includes questions that are often answered as you progress through the basics, although sometimes you need to ask them directly. Let’s think of this second set of questions as “The Heart of it All.”  The best place to start? With the basics!

These questions cover fundamental services and amenities that may be presented in different ways at different communities. What you learn by asking about the following topics provides broad insights.

Ask for information about the kind of supportive services you or your loved one needs in addition to the standard offerings and amenities. You’ll know how to shop for all of this because you already know what matters most. For example, if you or your family member requires skilled nursing or therapy care on site, take your time and ask for more information. If dining and menus are important, listen to what they share—and don’t be shy about asking to speak with the chef! If wellness programs or floor plans of residences matter to you, ask for a deeper dive into these topics. 

Here is a list of “The Basics” for you to collect and discuss:  

  • Floor plans 
  • Pricing and contracts 
  • Utilities 
  • Rental insurance 
  • Interior common spaces such as dining venues, library, theater, art studio, fitness/wellness class space, living rooms, salons, spa/massage room, guest suites, chapel or meditation space  
  • Exterior common spaces such as porches and patios, vegetable and flower gardens and other planting beds, walking paths and picnic areas, wellness paths  
  • Dining plans, hours of service and approach to seating 
  • Accommodations for special dietary requirements 
  • Availability of take-out or delivery dining services 
  • Housekeeping and maintenance services 
  • Parking and transportation services 
  • Security, messages and mail and package deliveries 
  • Policies for overnight guests in your residence or in guest suites 
  • Availability of other levels of care

As you tour and get answers to the basics, you’ll begin to get a feel for the community. The real question at “The Heart of It All” may become the most important. After all the basics and the bells and whistles make sense, this is the question to ask yourself: 

“If I choose for my loved one to live here, will they be able to live every day to the fullest?”

This question helps shift the focus from the important but basic and transactional details to how the community makes its residents feel. Many of the places you visit may share many or most of the same features. Some communities may be remarkably similar. But how a community enables someone to live each day to the fullest is often the key to knowing if you’re in the right place.

To answer that, here are a few more questions worth pondering. Always look for signs that the community is interested in what’s best for you and your loved one. This will increase confidence that you’ve covered the basics and will help you understand more clearly how you feel about one community compared to the others.

For confidence and clarity, ask the following:

  • What are the residents like?
    • Your loved one’s new neighbors are the people that live there now and will move in over the years. What are they typically like? What are their interests? Ask to meet a few residents and talk with them directly about their life in the community.
  • Who is assisted living for? What kind of assistance does my loved one need right now?
    • Ask what policies and processes are in place to provide you and your loved one with the support and care you’ll both need today and in the future. How is that decided? What input do you or your loved one have about any changes or moves? How does it all work?

The above questions may seem basic, but the answers will provide real clarity regarding key elements important to your decision. 

These are normal questions and conversations that every community addresses daily. As communities answer your questions, not only will you get the information you need, but you’ll also learn a lot about how they communicate. If the basics make sense, and the way they address “The Heart of It All” is well done, you may be ready to say, “We could be happy here! My loved one could look forward to each day and live it to the fullest!” Call us today at (515) 415-4401 and learn how CopperWood can provide personalized, compassionate care for you or your loved one.

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