What Should I Ask on My First Call to an Assisted Living Community?

What Should I Ask on My First Call to an Assisted Living Community?

Dear Donna:

While my kids were home from college on holiday vacation, we visited my parents for the first time in over a year. I call and video chat with my parents several times a week, and they always tell me they are managing everything just fine. That’s why we were so shocked at what we found when we got to their house.

Both my mom and my dad have lost weight they didn’t need to lose. I checked their refrigerator and cupboards, and it’s obvious they are relying on frozen dinners and canned soups. Both parents are walking with canes they bought at the drugstore. My mom had bumps and bruises on her arms and legs, and my dad admitted that she’s had a few falls lately. That frightens me as I know how dangerous a fall can be for seniors.

The condition of their house was equally surprising. Their bedroom had a large pile of laundry waiting to be done. The floors badly needed to be vacuumed. The bathroom shower obviously hadn’t been cleaned in a while. My parents always kept their house and yard neat and tidy, so this was definitely not typical of them.

After a long discussion, they reluctantly told us keeping up the house has become a real struggle. They are both having a difficult time caring for their personal needs. My mom has been experiencing frequent falls and is afraid to get into the shower. While my dad is doing a little better physically than my mom, he seems to be having a tough time too. We all agreed it’s time for them to make a change. After some preliminary research online, it seems like assisted living might be a good solution.

My parents and I agreed that I would start calling assisted living communities near their house. We want to ask some initial questions to screen out places that don’t seem to be a good fit. I’ll fly back to town in a few weeks to take my parents to visit the assisted living communities that seem like good options. As I’m preparing my list of calls, I’m trying to figure out what to ask. I’m new to this process so I don’t really know how to get started.

Any suggestions?


Bonnie in Douglas, MI

Questions to Ask an Assisted Living Community

Dear Bonnie:

It sounds like you are on the right track! But the search for an assisted living community can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t familiar with senior housing options. Call communities in the area of town your parents would like to live in to learn more about them.

I do have a few suggestions for questions you’ll want to ask:

  • Availability: Since it sounds as if there is some urgency to transition your parents to a safer environment, it’s a good idea to ask about availability. Some of the best assisted living communities are full and have a waitlist. If there is a waitlist, inquire about how long it is expected to be before something opens up and what the process is to get on the list. You may be required to make a deposit and fill out an application.
  • Affordability: If your parents are like most people, they’ll have a budget. Try to get an idea of how much they can afford to pay for assisted living each month before you start calling. Keep in mind, there might be options for financing care. For example, if one of them was a veteran, they might qualify for some financial assistance. Or if they purchased long-term care insurance, the policy may include assisted living coverage. Some assisted living expenses might even be tax-deductible.
  • Other questions: Finally, on your initial screening call, think about factors that may impact whether your parents would consider a particular community. For example, if your mom and dad have a pet, will they be welcome? Another one might be transportation. Since it sounds like you live far from your parents, finding an assisted living community that has a transportation team or can make arrangements for getting to and from appointments might be important.

Once you’ve narrowed your list, the next step is to schedule in-person visits and assemble questions to ask. “Important Questions to Ask on an Assisted Living Tour” will be a good resource to review when you are ready to move forward in the process.

Good luck with your search! Please keep the Heritage Senior Communities in your area in mind as you make your calls.

Kind regards,