The Arbor Company Senior Living Blog

5 Conversation Starters for Your Next Senior Living Community Visit

Mar 3, 2016 2:00:00 PM / Shirley Paulk Shirley Paulk


Searching for a senior living community is not an easy task! Indeed, being thorough is the key to finding a community that you will love well into the next years of your life. Whether you are just starting the search process or have it narrowed down to just a few options, having a few questions on hand when you head out to a tour or event at the community is wise. Knowing what is important to you and your interests is the best place to start, finding out if the senior living community will offer you most of what you are looking for. However, we have a few additional conversation starters for you to consider pulling out on your next visit.

Tell me about what will happen if/when I need more assistance

While we all hope to age successfully, part of searching for a senior care community is finding the peace of mind that you, and your family, are confident that you have a plan for further care. Some care communities are a continuum, meaning many levels of care are on the same campus, which can be convenient. Others may offer memory care options on-site or have relationships with skilled nursing facilities that can give you a reliable option if you ever need therapy services.

Walk me through a typical resident day here

This conversation will help you out twofold. First, you will be able to hear about the care that staff members provide - do they help out with dressing and grooming, do they help in the dining room? Second, you should be able to hear about the activities that are offered at the community, and if those activities are viewed as an important part of the resident experience. Daily programs and events are essential to your short and long term health, so be sure you hear all about what is going on. If you don’t hear about something that you may enjoy, ask if residents are given the chance to suggest lifestyle programs.

What is the dining experience like?

This question is aimed at getting you valuable information that will affect you three times per day. Listen to see if there are options offered at meal times, and find out what happens if you truly dislike every entree option. Determine if the breakfast spread suits you; some communities offer breakfast in a continental buffet style while others have a sitdown experience in the morning. Find out the hours for meals and if your schedule can make it work. Also, ask if there is assigned seating or a dress code (some communities have a more “formal” evening meal). Finally, find out if a nutritionist or dietician helps make medically needed entrees look and taste like the regular options as well.

How can I ask for help?

Help, in this question, is general and aimed at getting the community representative to speak about different ways you can receive assistance. Are there pull cords or other systems in place in the apartments to alert staff if you need help? Is there a policy in place that welcomes residents to voice their concerns about staff or other issues to Administration? How do staff members communicate with residents who have verbal, vision, hearing, or other communication differences? These are all important to determine prior to making a move into the community.

Can I come to dinner or an event?

The best way to get a glimpse into the culture and workings of a community is to experience it. Ask if you can come to dinner or to an activity as a guest so that you can see for yourself the benefits and drawbacks of everything from staff communication to feeling welcome. A quality community should not refuse to be open and inviting to potential residents, including allowing you to eat onsite, stay overnight, and converse freely with staff and residents.

With a few of these conversation starters peppered into conversation with the community representative, you are likely to get a better view into what the community holds as important. While you will likely never find a community that is perfect in every single way, a bit of research can give you the very best option.

Ready to try these conversation starters out at a community near you? Contact us now to learn more about Arbor Company Senior Living Communities in your area and request more information from a senior care counselor.


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Topics: Senior living

Shirley Paulk

Shirley Paulk

Shirley has more than 25 of years experience in health care, including long term care facility administration. Prior to joining The Arbor Company more than ten years ago, she served in key marketing positions for national rehabilitation services and senior living companies.

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