What questions Should I ask on My Assisted Living Tour?

What questions Should I ask on My Assisted Living Tour?

Dear Donna:

I am searching for an assisted living community for my mother and I know it’s important to visit and take tours. However, I don’t just want to see the building and grounds. I want to be sure I come away from the tour having learned what I need to know.

The problem is I’m not sure what that is! How should I prepare? What questions should I ask? Help!!

-Sheila in Saginaw


Questions Families Must Ask on an Assisted Living Tour

Dear Sheila,

You are definitely on the right track in wanting to ask good questions during your assisted living tour! Sounds like you just need a few questions to get going.

Assisted living tours are the best way for caregivers and their senior loved ones to get a feel for a particular community. Seeing the living spaces in person is important. But the real insight you’ll gain from your visit comes from the people you will meet.

Only from talking to the people who live and work at an assisted living community can you get a true sense of whether or not it is a good fit for a senior.

Questions to Ask When You’re On an Assisted Living Tour

You’re there to get a true picture of what it’s like to live in an assisted living community, so here are the three of the most important questions to ask.

  1. What services are available?

Some assisted living centers are stand-alone communities while others are part of a continuum of care. The additional levels of care at the community might include memory care, respite care, and independent living. Some families prefer this continuum of services so if their senior loved one’s needs change down the road, they won’t have to move again.

  1. What programs and activities are available?

Assisted living isn’t just about getting help with the tasks of daily living. It’s also about living a healthy lifestyle filled with enriching activities, programs, and events. So it is important to ask what sort of life enrichment activities and wellness programs there are each day. Also ask about special events and outings to local restaurants, parks and other attractions.

Another dimension to wellness is whether staff encourages residents to participate in programs and activities. You’ll want to talk to staff directly to learn more about the community’s wellness model and whether it includes personalized attention to case management.

  1. What staff members are on-site throughout the day (and night)?

The staff-to-resident ratio can vary from community to community, so this is an important area to investigate. Also, you’ll want to ask how many nurses are on hand at any given moment, and how often a doctor visits the community.

Don’t forget to ask about staff training and turnover, too. It’s usually a very strong indicator of the quality of care and services residents receive. If the staff is always coming and going, it’s going to be hard for them to get to know your senior loved one and their needs.


More Questions and a Checklist for Your Assisted Living Tour

The AARP maintains a comprehensive checklist for caregivers and their senior loved ones to use when they’re visiting assisted living communities. I’d recommend printing it out and using it before and during your tour.


Visit and Experience Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities, we love visitors! We always encourage families to come for a tour, meet our staff and stay for lunch if you can.


There are Heritage Senior Communities located across the state of Michigan and in northern Indiana. Each offers a range of services, including assisted living care, independent senior living, dementia care, and short-term respite stays. Visit us online to find a Heritage community near you and schedule a tour.

I hope this helps, Sheila!

Kind Regards,



What to Consider Before Moving a Parent in with You

What to Consider Before Moving a Parent in with You

The news these days is full of stories about boomerang kids who leave the nest but then return home to live with parents. Just as headline-worthy is the opposite of that trend: parents moving in with their adult children.

When an older parent moves in with their adult child, a whole new family dynamic is created. It’s a wonderful opportunity for grandkids to get to know their grandparents and for everyone to build closer bonds. It can also save the caregiver a lot of time and energy not having to drive so much to check in on parents.

Considerations to Ponder Before Making the Change

There’s a flipside to everything, of course. And there are definitely some things to consider before moving a parent in with you.

Here are some of the most common issues experienced by people who’ve already traveled down this road.

Space Requirements

Your home may work for you now but if your mother or father moves in, your space needs will change dramatically. There are a variety of solutions to this problem, including adding a master suite.

The average cost of a mid-range master suite addition in Michigan was $115,810 in 2016. Obviously, this expense must be carefully considered by you and your spouse. A parent may –or may not— be able to help with the cost of remodeling, so it’s a solution the whole family should discuss together.

Some homes are simply too small to accommodate one more adult. A family might end up moving to a larger home.

Safety Concerns

Even if you have space for your aging parent in your home, you may need to make a few modifications. Bathrooms are a prime area of focus when a parent moves in. At the very least, safety features like grab bars and a non-step shower should be installed. Some older adults will need modified toilets. You’ll want to complete a safety audit of your home in order to determine exactly what upgrades you’ll need to make.

Privacy Issues

You should also consider privacy when making a decision.

Here’s where the master suite comes in again. Sometimes called ‘in-law suites’, these usually include a bedroom, bathroom, sitting area, and sometimes an efficiency or full kitchen. This allows your senior loved one to maintain privacy and independence and to feel that they aren’t placing too much of a burden on you and your family.

Daily Living

Finally, think about how your days will go with a parent now living with you.

  • Will you divide chores?
  • Will you eat together?
  • Who controls the TV?
  • What about pets?
  • Will you socialize together?
  • Will you take vacations together?
  • How will you manage bills?
  • What if you need to go away?
  • What will your parent(s) do all day?
  • How will you handle special dietary needs?
  • Will they hire a home care aide while you’re at work?
  • What happens if they start telling your kids what to do?

Short-Term Respite at Heritage Senior Living Communities

Respite care can help when your family wants some private time or if you will be taking a vacation. Your senior loved one can stay at an assisted living community on a short-term basis.

Call or stop by one of our Michigan and Indiana communities for a tour and to have all of your questions about respite care and assisted living answered!

Healthy Bones: What Seniors Can do to Keep Bones Strong

Healthy Bones: What Seniors Can do to Keep Bones Strong

As we age our bone density decreases, making it easier to break a bone if we have a fall or an accident. Seniors who maintain good bone health can often reduce the chance they’ll break a bone if they fall or are otherwise injured. Strong bones also mean you’re less likely to end up in the hospital as the result of a fall.

So, how can you work towards improving bone strength?

A two-pronged approach to strong bones consists of good nutrition and daily exercise.

Healthy Bones at Any Age

Here’s what you should know about building healthy bones.

Get Your Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a nutrient important for building strong bones. Older adults are sometimes prone to deficiencies in vitamin D for numerous reasons. So it’s essential to consider diet, supplements, and exposure to sunlight in building healthier bones.

For seniors in Michigan, vitamin D can be especially hard to come by during our long winters. That’s why you’ll want to talk to your doctor about supplements and about which foods are rich in vitamin D. Eggs and soy are a few examples.

Get Plenty of Exercise

Weight-bearing exercises can increase bone strength. Check your local YMCA or senior center or, if you reside in a senior living community, check the weekly calendar for your fitness options. Of course, always talk with your doctor before beginning a new fitness routine.

Weight-bearing Activities for Older Adults

When it comes weight-bearing exercises for seniors, there are a variety of options from which to choose including:

  1. Fitness Walking. Walking is wonderful exercise at any age because it offers so many benefits. For strong bones, try to keep your pace brisk. It’s referred to as ‘fitness walking’. Whatever pace you choose, know that walking is one of the healthiest ways to spend your time!
  2. Yoga. A number of studies provide evidence that yoga is great for the bones. It builds bone density, improves balance and increases flexibility. And don’t let worries about not being flexible keep you from giving yoga a try. The great thing about this gentle form of exercise is that everyone can progress at his or her own pace.
  3. Tai Chi. You may have noticed people of all ages performing Tai Chi in a local park. It’s become a widely accepted way to build coordination and improve bone strength. What is Tai Chi? Basically, it’s a series of poses you move between in a fluid way, very slowly. Some studies show that you may even slow the rate of bone loss by practicing Tai Chi.
  4. Strength Training. Yep, hitting the gym is good for developing strong bones! If you don’t know how to use the weight machines at your local gym or health club, consult with the staff. They’re trained to help you. Better yet, if your budget permits, hire a personal trainer who’s schooled in the ways of helping older adults strengthen their bones through weight training. Senior living communities usually have someone on staff trained to help residents use the on-site gym.
  5. Dancing. If the gym isn’t your cup of tea, maybe dancing is your style? Whatever form of dancing you enjoy, head out on the dance floor and get moving! Or take a class and learn a new form of dancing. Never learned to Tango? Now’s the time! Classes have the added benefit of providing a social outlet, so you’re more likely to make new friends and have fun!

Beyond Strong Bones: Heritage Supports Fitness for Healthy Living!

At Heritage Senior Living communities, we care for and serve our residents holistically. That means we’re concerned not just about basic daily needs, but also about the physical, mental, and spiritual aspect of living. We want our residents to thrive!

You’ll find plenty of fitness options in each of our Michigan and Indiana communities. To learn more about our exercise programs, call us or come visit for a tour of our grounds.

How Can I Help my Newly Single Mother Make New Friends?

How Can I Help my Newly Single Mother Make New Friends?

My father passed away about six months ago, and my mother seems to be struggling with loneliness. My parents always did everything together, from cooking meals to weekly yard work. Now that my dad is gone, my mom isn’t adjusting to single life as well as I’d hoped.

I know she’s still grieving for my dad, and that she misses him a lot. We all do. But I hate to see her spending more time in front of the TV, and less time out doing fun things that would make her happy. I’ve tried suggest that she get out and make new friends, but I don’t want to be pushy.

Do you have any suggestions for things I could try? I would love to get mom back into the social swing of things.


Kimberly in Lansing, Michigan


Dear Kimberly,

Thank you for your question. This is a dilemma that many older adults face when they lose a spouse or life partner. For many it feels like they’re starting their social lives over, which can be very daunting. Thankfully, there are lots of options available for jump starting a social life again.

Here are a few things you can suggest that may help your mother.

Helping a Parent Rebuild Their Social Circle

Reconnect with Old Friends

The internet offers wonderful opportunities for reconnecting with childhood friends and staying in town with loved ones near and far. There are several social media sites that would provide your mother with an easy way to find people she may have lost touch with years ago. Facebook is an especially popular social media channel for older adults to connect (and reconnect!) with friends and loved ones.

AARP notes that for adults who didn’t grow up in the ‘digital age,” technology can sometimes be frustrating. For aging loved ones who are hesitant to embrace the digital world, reconnecting with long-lost friends may be a great incentive to get started. If your mother seems reluctant, it may be that she’s not comfortable with her computer. Spending a little time showing her the ropes —including Facebook’s security and privacy settings — could help her get started.

Follow your Passions

Finding others who enjoy the same interests and hobbies is a great way to make new friends. You mentioned that your parents used to cook and do yard work together. Perhaps finding a local gardening club or a baking group would give her a chance to meet others with similar interests.

Ask your Mom if there’s something she’s always wanted to try, like wine tasting, photography or ceramics. Finding new things to try will provide opportunities to meet new people. Sometimes all a new friendship needs to blossom is a shared hobby.

Fitness with Friends

Exercise is critical to staying healthy, particularly as we age. The Mayo Clinic says that we naturally lose both muscle and strength as we age, which is why regular exercise is so important. But exercise is always more fun when you do it with friends!

If your mom doesn’t already have a regular exercise routine, you could suggest that she join a gym. If a gym membership isn’t in the budget, look into local walking clubs or classes offered at your local community center. Many offer a variety of inexpensive exercise classes, like:

  • Water aerobics
  • Tai Chi
  • Gentle yoga

This would offer your mother the double benefit of both regular exercise, and a chance to meet new people.

Keep Other Needs in Mind

Be aware that your mom may still be coping with grief or even depression that can require more than just new friendships to move forward. Losing a beloved spouse is tough, and some seniors need more than just time to heal. If your mom is really struggling to find happiness in daily life, encourage her to talk to her doctor.

Also, daily home maintenance gets harder as we age. With the recent loss of your dad, your mom may be facing new challenges around the house. This could mean more work for her, and less time to socialize. I know it can be a very hard subject to discuss, but if your mom is having a hard time managing alone, it may be time to talk about senior living options in Michigan.

I wish you the best, and hope your mom is able to find fulfilling ways to meet people and make new friends.