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Where Do I Start?

Whether you are looking for a senior living community for yourself or for a loved one, often one of the biggest challenges is simply knowing how to begin the search. Over the years, we have helped thousands of people through this process, and we would like to share what we have learned. The need for senior housing is often clear; the options require research.

Visiting websites, such as ours, is a good first step. Actually visiting a prospective community is essential. To make your research more productive, we have developed a list of questions that will help you prioritize your needs and wants, and ultimately select the ideal community.

Please also feel welcome to call and speak with one of our Community Relations Directors. They are happy to speak in general terms about how to research your options.

  • Is the community located in an area that is convenient to area transportation
    (public transportation, airports, and major highways)?
  • Is the community located near a shopping center?
  • Is the community located in an area that is convenient for family and friends to visit?
  • Is there a medical complex located in close proximity?
Your Home
  • Are there a number of different apartment styles available?
  • Are the apartments furnished or unfurnished? What should residents bring when they move in?
  • Can the residents decorate their own apartments?
  • Do the residences have individual climate control?
  • Are the bathrooms private and can they accommodate wheelchairs and walkers?
  • Are doorways, hallways, and rooms accommodating to wheelchairs and walkers?
  • Are elevators available for those unable to use stairways and handrails to aid in walking?
  • Are floors of a non-skid material and carpets conducive for safe walking?
  • Do all apartments have a telephone connection and cable TV?
  • Does the apartment come with a kitchen unit (refrigerator/sink/microwave) and can food be kept in the apartments?
  • Is there an outside courtyard or patio for residents?
  • Does the residence provide ample security and is there an emergency evacuation plan?
  • May residents smoke in their apartments or are there designated public areas?
  • Are residents' pets allowed in the residence? Does the community have pets and who cares for them?
  • Are religious services held on the premises? Or does the community arrange to take residents to nearby services?
  • Are there spaces and opportunities for games, cards, crafts, computers, gardening, etc.?
  • What types of enrichment does the community have for residents?
  • Does the community have a dedicated resident assessment and programs staff?
  • Does the community offer healthy menu options?
  • Does the community offer private dining venues if friends or family come to visit?
  • Will the staff provide catering arrangements for your private functions?
  • Does the community cater to those with special diets?
  • Is there a qualified dietitian who approves the menus?
  • What choices are available on the menu at each meal time?
  • Does the community provide housekeeping?
  • Does the community offer a continuum of care, should a need arise in the future?
  • Does the community provide transportation to doctors' offices and other destinations (hairdresser, shopping complex, etc.) and how are these trips arranged?
  • Are some services provided on-site? For example pharmacy, hairdresser, or physical therapy services?
  • Are laundry services available on site?
  • Can residents do their own laundry?
Resident Care
  • How is the initial needs assessment done?
  • Does the assessment process include the resident, family, community staff along with the physician?
  • Is there a written plan for the care of each resident and is there an ongoing process for assessing a resident's need for services?
  • How often are care plans re-visited?
  • Does the community have a dedicated resident services director?
  • How are changing care needs addressed?
Questions to ask yourself during/after your tour:
  • Did members of the staff smile and make eye contact with you?
  • Did the staff person who accompanied you know residents and staff by name?
  • Did the staff person who accompanied you seem to have what’s best for you in mind rather than their own interests?
  • Is the staff appropriately dressed, friendly, and outgoing?
  • Do the staff members treat each other in a professional manner?
  • Were you able to meet the Executive Director at the community or any of the management team?
  • Are the residents friendly and outgoing?
  • Did you see residents participating in activities?
  • Do the residents seem to be people with interests similar to you/the potential resident?
  • Is there a waiting list?
  • If there is a waiting list, how long do they estimate it will take for an opportunity to become available?
Elder Care Alliance, a non-profit organization, is cosponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas West Midwest Community & the Sierra Pacific Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. RCFE Lic # 015600255 SNF Lic # CA020000237 Equal Housing Opportunity