While in-person visits are ideal, you can learn and see a lot from a virtual tour — if you ask the right questions. There are many checklists out there you can print off to have in front of you while you visit. But in this article, we’ll take a closer look at several questions to ask assisted living communities while touring virtually, including some topics you may not have considered.
Questions to Ask Assisted Living Communities
Here are five categories of questions to consider when touring communities virtually:
What will it cost?
Assisted living is expensive, so it’s important to know what to expect financially to help avoid surprises later.
Here are some financial questions to ask assisted living communities:
- Are there upfront fees required? What about monthly fees?
- Do fees increase over time?
- What’s included in the fees?
- Are any of these fees refundable if I move out?
- How do fees differ from one part of the community to another (i.e., from independent to assisted living)?
- Can outside agencies provide on-site care, and if so, how does that impact costs?
- What happens if I run out of money? Will I need to move?
- What If I have a medical emergency and need to be in the hospital for weeks or months? Can I keep my residence? How much will that cost?
Finally, always ask to see the contract. Most assisted living facilities will gladly share this information. If they seem reluctant, it could be a red flag that something isn’t on the up and up.
Where is the community located?
Location may seem like an obvious thing to consider, but it’s important to think about proximity to family, caregivers and the wider community. This topic often leads to a discussion about long-term needs and the importance of avoiding too many moves and disruptions. Be sure to consider your future and what needs you may have later in life.
What is the dining program like?
Food and mealtimes are also important. Food can be a major source of enjoyment for many people, and it’s something those with failing health may still have some control over, so it’s an important consideration.
Questions you might ask include:
- How many meals a day are provided?
- Do I have choices from the menu?
- Must I go to a dining room, or can I have food brought to my room?
- Is there a cafe or bistro on-site?
- What about specific tastes, preferences and special needs like diabetic diets or for those who have difficulty swallowing?
And most importantly: How does the food taste? Most communities will invite you for lunch or dinner on-site to try it out. If they do, take advantage of the offer before moving in.
How is health care provided?
Once you’ve narrowed your list of communities down to two or three, it’s time to start digging into the medical services they offer. The biggest consideration is whether the community offers several levels of care from independent living to assisted living and skilled nursing care. Many communities have all these options on a single campus, while others rely on outside professionals to deliver these services.
Questions to ask include:
- How close are health care services?
- Can you continue with your current primary care physician or other specialists?
- How are medications dispensed and managed?
- Can your condition be appropriately managed at this community?
- How is your condition expected to evolve, and can this community manage those changes?
- What palliative, end-of-life or hospice care is available?
- Do they offer physical, occupational or speech therapy?
- Is nursing care available 24/7?
- How are medical emergencies or ER visits handled?
What amenities and programs are available?
Communities vary widely in the activities and amenities they offer. Make sure there will be plenty of opportunities for you to do things you enjoy.
- Are there fitness classes that will help you stay physically active?
- Do they have arts and crafts classes and/or resident groups?
- Do they have book clubs or discussion groups?
- Are there regularly scheduled outings for shopping, dining, entertainment or sports events?
- Do they bring in guest speakers or performances?
- Do they allow pets, and are there size restrictions?
Don’t forget to ask these important questions now so that you’re not surprised or disappointed later.
Preparing for Your Virtual Tour
What You’ll Need
- Notebook, pen or other way to take notes during your conversation.
- Comfortable place to sit where you won’t be interrupted.
- Water or something else to drink.
- Laptop or mobile device with a camera, so you can be seen.
You’ll also need to sign up for an account for the video conferencing platform being used by the community. Zoom and Webex are both popular.
- On your laptop, sign up at https://zoom.us/meeting
- On your mobile device, download the app on Google Play or at the Apple app store
- On your laptop, sign up at https://cart.webex.com/sign-up-webex
- On your mobile device, download the app on Google Play or at the Apple App store.
Get Set Up for Your Visit Early
- Make sure your internet connection is stable.
- Make sure you have your device positioned so you can be seen clearly. Your camera should be positioned high enough to show your head and shoulders.
- Be sure your light source (such as a lamp or window) isn’t behind you. If it is, you may be covered in shadows and hard to see.
- If you’re using a mobile device, prop it up with a stand of some kind so you don’t have to hold it during the visit.
- When you sign into the meeting, check to see that your microphone is not muted, and that your camera is on. There will be icons and buttons on your screen to show you whether your mic and camera are on.
The technology aspect of your visit may feel a little strange if you’re not used to it. And there may be some sound or internet connectivity issues here and there. All of that is ok – hopefully you can relax and enjoy a good conversation.
Schedule a virtual tour today
We hope this list of questions to ask assisted living facilities has been helpful. If you’ve been considering a move to an assisted living community, check out everything Grand Lodge at the Preserve has to offer. Browse our photo gallery, and check out our services and amenities. Then fill out the brief contact form below to request a virtual tour. A sales counselor will be in touch soon to discuss your plans and help you navigate this important decision.