Looking For Senior Housing? Ask These Questions During Tours.

Author: Kurt Brown

| Published on: January,21 | Viewed: 2485 times


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Looking for senior housing can be a stressful and arduous undertaking.  It’s important to find the right community, with all of the services and care you need, as well as a location, culture, and price that will work for you and your family.  With all of the wide range of options available, it can be a little overwhelming knowing what questions to ask, getting your questions answered, and keeping everything straight in your head after the fact.  I recommend following a methodology for this process that will reduce some stress and help you retain the information you gather, so you can take everything into consideration and more easily compare the communities you visit.

The community tour is a good opportunity to get all of your important questions answered. The person giving you the tour is most-likely used to getting a lot of questions from potential residents and their families, so don’t be shy! It’s important to be comfortable with not only the physical features of the property, but also the staff, and the services and care provided.

I’ve included some questions you may want to ask during your tours of senior housing communities below. I’ve also provided a link to a printable version that you can take with you to track and take notes about the answers to your questions and your impressions about each property. I hope this Tour Assessment Guide will serve as a useful tool for you!  



-What is the ratio of staff to residents?  

-What is the staff turnover rate?

-What types of training do the staff members have?  

-Is the staff trained on elder abuse and neglect?  Is there a policy for reporting suspected abuse?

-Do the staff members speak your or your loved-one’s language fluently?  

-Are background checks performed on staff members?

-Is there a Registered Nurse, Licensed Vocational Nurse, or Certified Nursing Assistant on staff?  If so, how often?

-Is there staff available to provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as dressing, eating, bathing and toileting?

Resident Living Spaces

-Do residents have the option of a private or shared room?  

-Can residents personalize and decorate their own apartments?  

-Can residents bring their favorite chair or other furniture or large items?

-What furnishings are provided?

-Does each room have a private bathroom, or are the bathrooms shared?

-Are bathrooms designed to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers?  

-Do rooms come equipped with 24-hour emergency response systems?  

-Is it possible to view all of the types of rooms available?  

-Is there a TV in the room?

-Is cable, internet/wifi available or included in the rooms?  If there is a fee, how is the billing handled?

-Is a kitchen provided with a refrigerator, sink, and cooking element?

-Are residents permitted to keep food in their apartments?

-Are pets allowed?  If so, what kind?

-Is housecleaning for personal living spaces included in the price?  If not, what is the fee?

-Can residents lock the door to their units?


-How many meals are provided per day?

-Does the menu vary from day to day?  How often is the menu changed?

-Is the food freshly prepared daily?  

-Is there a focus on organic ingredients?  

-Are there snacks, and if so, how do residents access them?  

-Can meals be provided at a time the resident prefers, or are there set times for meals?

-Can meals be tailored to a resident’s specific needs or special requests?  

-Can residents take food back to their rooms?  

-Can visiting family members and guests dine with the residents?  If so, is there a charge?  

-Is special food prepared for special occasions, such as birthdays and holidays?  

-Are there any dishes that are especially popular with the residents?  

If so, what are they?  

-Can I / we sample the food? (If you sample the food, how was it?)

Common Spaces

-What common spaces are available to residents?  

-Are there any outdoor spaces?  

-Is smoking allowed?  If so, where?  

-Are there any shared community animals, such as dogs, cats, birds, and fish?  

-Does the community have any special amenities or services worth mentioning, such as a beauty parlor, fitness room, therapy pool, etc.?  

-Is there a place where residents can do their own gardening, arts and crafts, or other hobbies? Is there a media/TV room?


-What types of activities are available to residents, and how often do they occur?

-Is there a posted schedule of events and activities?  (Do they match the interests of your loved one?)

-Do residents interact with the surrounding community?  If so, do residents go on regular outings or do volunteers come into the community?  

-Is there any live entertainment provided?  If so, what kind, and how often?  

-Are residents actively encouraged to participate?

Medication & Health

-What is your medication management policy?

-Is self-administration of medication allowed?

-Is there someone on staff who coordinates home healthcare visits from a nurse, physical therapist, etc., if needed?

-Are services such as hospice and physical therapy available?  If so, is there an additional charge?  If so, how much?

-Is there a clearly-stated procedure for responding to a resident’s medical emergency?

-Is transportation offered to residents for doctor’s appointments?  Is the transportation wheelchair/disabled-friendly?  Is there a fee?  If so, how much?

-Are incontinence supplies included in the price?  If not, what is the cost?

-Is there a written plan of care for each resident?  How often is it reviewed and updated?

-Does the community have a process for assessing a resident’s need for services?  Does this process include the resident, his or her family, and the resident’s physician?


-Are additional care and services available if the resident needs change? If yes, what types of additional care and services are offered, and at what cost?

-Is transportation available for personal or family outings? Is there a fee? If so, how much?  

-Are visitors allowed at any time, or are there specific visiting hours? If you have specific visiting hours, what are they?  

Saturday                 Sunday

Monday                  Tuesday

Wednesday            Thursday

Friday    _______ to _______        Holidays    

-Are residents allowed overnight guests?  If so, what is the overnight guest policy?

-Is there parking available for residents and/or guests?  

-Are barber and beauty services offered?  If so, is there an extra cost?

-Are there religious services available onsite or nearby?  If so, what kind?  

-What’s the official policy on sexual interaction between residents?  

-How does the community accommodate private time for couples if only one of them is living in the community?  

-Are residents required to have renter’s insurance?  

-Is a consumer disclosure form available that discloses personal care and supportive services, move-in and move-out policies, and all fees?

-Is a residency agreement available for review before move-in? (Keep a copy and read the entire document, including the fine print.)

-Is the state inspection report available for review?

-What are the most common reasons a resident may be asked to move out of the community?

-What is the community’s emergency preparedness strategy?  

-Is there a backup generator and an evacuation plan for residents?

-Are there any other extra fees that we should know about?  If so, what are they?

It will be helpful for you to take notes and rate the different aspects of each community right away - either right after your tour, or during your tour. This will help you remember the details and your impressions about a particular property when you’re comparing it with other properties later. Here’s the post-visit rating system I added to the Tour Assessment Guide (available HERE):


(Circle for each)     Poor          Excellent
Location/Neighborhood       2            3           4      5
Proximity to Loved Ones  3 4 5
Staff 3 4 5
Resident Living Spaces 3 4 5
Food 3 4 5
Common Spaces 3 4 5
Activities  3 4 5
Other 3 4 5

Monthly Rent:                              $__________

+ Additional Fees (if any):          $__________             Describe:_________________________

= TOTAL MONTHLY COST:        $__________

 OVERALL VALUE RATING: 1     2         3         4      5 
(Cost vs. Community Attributes)  Worst       Best


Last, but not least...
Make time to go and do something you and your loved one enjoy doing.  This can be a difficult process, so spend some quality time together.  It will help in the process immensely.


For more information on touring senior housing communities, email ask@seniorly.com or call us at (415-570-4370). 

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