Asking difficult questions makes most of us uncomfortable – especially when those questions revolve around such sensitive topics as money, ability, skill, caring, integrity, or honesty. But all of those things need to be on the table when you or your loved one are considering making the move to a senior living community. No matter how uncomfortable it might be to ask the question, getting the answer will be crucial. Here are some starter questions to help you bring up checks and balances in senior living.
Staffing & Training
When you or your loved one is moving into a senior living community, you'll naturally have questions about the staff, how they're trained, and how they interact with residents. Consider asking:
- What do you do if you don't have enough staff in the building, and my loved one needs care?
- What is your average call response time?
- How do I know your staff are qualified?
- How are staff trained?
- What educational requirements are in place?
- Do your staff speak languages other than English?
- How do you handle staff retention?
- Do you have a lot of employee turnover?
Money is a primary consideration for everyone, but that doesn’t make it any easier to talk about. Since getting the facts in this area is vital, be encouraged to ask the bold questions:
- What happens if I run out of money?
- Why is senior living so expensive?
- How do I know if I’m getting my money’s worth?
- Give me an outline of all “additional” costs, like beauty salon visits and outings.
- Are you for
- profit or non-profit?
- Does the pricing increase annually? If so, how much?
- What are all of the upfront fees for moving in?
- Is the rent prorated if my loved one moves out or passes away?
- How many people do you have on your Elderly Waiver list?
Transitioning & Getting Acclimated
Any time there’s a transition, you want to have confidence that your loved one is going to be happy and comfortable in their new home. Consider asking:
- Is my loved one going to make friends here?
- Are there resident cliques?
- If my loved one is sad during their first month here, how do you help to get them acclimated and involved?
- What happens if my loved one doesn’t like it here and wants to go home?
- Can we break the lease early?
- Is my loved one going to be just another resident to you?
- How do I know I’m making the right decision to move my loved one to senior living?
Questions about the quality and consistency of care are especially sensitive for people who have been acting as caregivers for loved ones. You want to have peace of mind that they'll be getting the best possible care, so ask:
- How do I know you can care for my loved one as well as I have been caring for them?
- What happens if my loved one needs more care, and you don’t offer that level of care, or you don’t have any openings?
- What does the community do to prevent rehospitalization if my loved one gets sick?
- What is your proximity to good healthcare services where my loved one can go as needed?
- Can my loved one keep the same primary care physician, or do they need to use the one associated with the community?
- How does your staff identify signs of senior depression?
- How do you handle volatile relationships within the community?
You need to know about the site itself, the building maintenance, and whether you or your loved one will have a clean, safe place to live. Start by asking:
- Is the building soundproof?
- Do you have soft water?
- Do you have filtered drinking water?
- Can I install an ice maker?
- Is the community well maintained?
- Has the community had any survey deficiencies?
- What is the cleaning schedule for my loved one's room?
- How is theft handled?
- Have you had incidents of vandalism?
- How do you safeguard your residents?
Asking these questions can be difficult, but doing the right thing for your loved one is more than worth the discomfort. At Ebenezer, our staff is happy to sit down and talk with you about each and every concern that's on your mind. Take a look at our website, or give us a call today to get connected with an Ebenezer community of your choice, where they can answer specific questions about your journey.
Make sure to check the Ebenezer blog for more resources to help you navigate difficult conversations about senior living.