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9 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Assisted Living Community

Choosing an assisted living community is a big decision — it's as big a move as the one you took into your current home. No matter when you bought or first started renting your current home, chances are you asked a lot of questions and had a list of requirements that needed to be checked off before you could consider calling a place home. At Bethesda Senior Living Communities, we know this is true when older adults look for new communities to call home.

But we also know that the search for an assisted living community can seem daunting. You might be dealing with emotional ties to an existing home and neighborhood or want to make sure that the community you choose will continue to meet your needs in the future. To help simplify the process of finding an assisted living community that works for you, we've provided some important questions to ask during your search.

1. What levels of service are offered?

Some communities offer a range of service levels that might include independent living, assisted living and memory care. Services that scale ensure a community can continue to serve you as your needs change.

Don't just look at care services. Find out about amenities such as entertainment spaces, libraries, walking paths and gardens or other options that might be important to you.

2. What is the social or activities calendar like?

Even if you don't think you'll be interested in scheduled activities, you might want to choose a community that has plenty of options. Once you get settled into your new assisted living apartment, you might be ready to explore new hobbies, make new friends or simply get out and about.

Ask whether the assisted living staff at a prospective community schedule shopping and cultural trips. You can also ask to see a copy of current or past activities calendars to get an idea of what options might be available to you at each location.

3. How much independence is supported?

Are you able to drive and come and go as you please? Is public transportation readily available so you can access resources in nearby towns or cities? Are the assisted living apartments designed to support independence as you age? These are just some of the questions that might be important if you want to continue living as independently as possible in your new home.

4. Are meals provided, and how much flexibility is there?

Assisted living communities offer a variety of meal options. Within our Bethesda Senior Living Communities, you'll find options that include restaurant-style dining, anytime menus, snack and coffee menus and community kitchens where you can take cooking classes or cook for your family. Make sure that nutrition and meal options support your preferences, ongoing health and dietary needs.

5. Who are the other residents?

Visiting a senior living community before you choose one can help you understand what type of residents live there. Are there people who share some of your interests or who you might be able to form relationships with? Do residents seem friendly and supportive of each other? If you're looking to make an enjoyable home in a new community, these might be important considerations.

Talking to current residents lets you get an idea of the culture in a community. It also offers an opportunity to find out how other seniors experience the community, such as what they like most and least about it.

6. Does the assisted living community support your personal values?

Bethesda Senior Living Communities is a faith-based organization, and all of our communities provide support for faith-based seniors. That includes devotionals, worship services and chaplains, for example.

Not every senior living in our communities is someone of faith, but we do know that choosing a community that shares or supports your values can be important. And you should definitely ensure that a prospective community doesn't actively oppose your values, as living in a space that's opposite your own personal values can be a recipe for unhappiness.

7. How are visitors handled?

Can you have visitors, and are there limitations on when and how? Obviously many assisted living communities have had to limit visitors during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, but you can ask what their regular policies are about visitors or how they plan to approach the topic in the future as it becomes safer to do so.

For example, you might want to find out if a family member can ever stay with you in your assisted living apartment overnight or what options there are for reserving space in community common areas so you can entertain family or friends.

8. What efforts are put into security?

At the same time, you might not want to live in a community that allows people to come and go without any control. Ask about security measures, such as whether guests have to check in with reception. You might also want to know whether there are security personnel on site regularly, whether doors are locked to exterior entry and when and what options there are in the assisted living apartments for alerting staff in case of an emergency.

9. What medical and health services are available?

 A good assisted living community supports the entire you, and that includes your physical and mental health. Find out what on-site options are available. While you'll still see your own healthcare providers outside of the assisted living community, knowing staff is available if you need them for exercise, nutrition, medication management or other support can provide peace of mind.