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Questions You Should Ask Senior Living Communities

Questions You Should Ask Senior Living Communities


The Top Questions to Ask When Touring a Senior Living Community

How do you know which senior living community is right for you or a loved one? It starts with knowing what you’re looking for. So before you even contemplate touring a senior living community, be clear about your priorities.

Make a list of your “must-haves” and “would like but can live without.” Then research communities online in the places you want to live. Read their websites, request brochures, and talk with the marketing staff. If you know someone who lives in the community, even better; ask them what they love about their community. The more time you spend upfront, the easier it will be to create a shortlist of communities you want to visit.

If there’s an out-of-state community on your list, ask about a virtual tour. But if the community on your list is within driving distance, schedule a tour so a staff member will be available to answer your questions and show you around.

Know what questions to ask when touring a senior living community

To help you compare communities, here are some of the top questions to ask when touring a senior living community.

1. Is the community located in a desirable location?

Are there restaurants and shopping centers nearby? How close is the nearest hospital? Is there a major highway or airport within easy reach? Is there something that makes the location especially attractive to you, such as a nearby university, park, golf course or cultural attraction?

2. What type of living options are available?

Senior living communities come in all shapes and sizes offering a variety of living options. Most communities offer apartment homes but may also include single-story townhouses, villas, cottages and other layouts. Floor plans and sizes range from a modest studio or one-bedroom apartment home to a spacious townhouse or villa floor plan that may include a basement and attached garage.

3. Is there a waiting list for the floor plan you want?

If you don’t have an immediate need to move to a community, you can take your time to focus on a few places that check all the right boxes. Bear in mind, though, there could be a waitlist at the communities you like best. If that’s the case, you might want to get on several waitlists so when you need to make a move, you’ll hopefully be near the top of the list for at least one community. 

4. Is there an entrance fee?

If you’re considering a move to a Life Plan Community (also called a continuing care retirement community or CCRC), a one-time entrance payment is required. Life Plan Community contracts vary in how they’re structured, so be sure you understand the terms and have your attorney review the contract before signing. Rental communities, including Retirement Center Management senior living communities, do not require a large entrance payment or bind you to a long-term contract.

5. What services are included in your monthly fee?

Services and amenities at senior living communities are designed to make life easier for residents. Ask what’s included in your monthly service payment, such as utilities; maintenance; security; housekeeping; courtesy transportation; flexible dining options; life-enrichment programs; and access to on-site amenities such as a salon, dining rooms, cocktail lounge, game room, library, fitness center, swimming pool, art studio, garden plots, chapel, etc.

6. Are pets allowed?

How many dogs or cats or other animals are permitted? Is there a charge for having a pet? Any size limitations? What are the leash rules, and where will you be allowed to walk your dog? What are the rules regarding service dogs? Ask to see the community’s pet policy.

7. What do you do to keep residents safe?

Do residents have access to emergency assistance? Is there a check-in system to ensure residents are present and accounted for? Is there an emergency response plan? Is there a generator for backup power? Does the community follow COVID safety guidelines? At RCM communities, we put the safety of residents and staff first. Learn more about how we’re maintaining a safe environment for residents and staff.

8. What dining options are available?

Dining is a big deal at senior living communities. Of course, you can cook for yourself in your independent living residence, but your contract will likely include one meal a day in your monthly service fee. Meals can range from restaurant-style three-course dinners served at your table in a more formal dining room to casual fare in a bistro or cafe. There may also be a private dining room you can reserve for family get-togethers or special occasions. When touring communities on your list, be sure to have a meal in the dining room. You might be surprised at the quality of the food and the variety of dishes on the menu.

9. What activities are available?

See if the community has a room or equipment that supports the type of activities you like to do. For example, are there fitness classes, art classes, and lifelong learning classes? What are the most popular activities at the community? Is there a resident committee that helps determine the programs and events at the community?

10. Is transportation provided to go shopping, dine at local restaurants, or see your doctor?

Poor vision and mobility issues can make driving a challenge for many seniors. Transportation services help seniors maintain their independence. Ask about shuttle service at the communities you’re considering. Most communities offer transportation within a defined radius for doctor visits, religious services, and other necessities. There may also be transportation to scheduled outings, such as restaurants, museums and theaters.

11. Is there a garage or covered parking space for your car?

Ask if there are reserved parking spaces for residents. Ideally, you’ll be assigned a space that’s either covered or in a parking garage. If you’re unable to drive, ask about shuttle service or ride services such as Uber or Lyft.

12. What happens if you need assistance during the night?

Is someone on duty 24 hours a day? Is there an emergency call system? Team members are available 24/7 for assistance at RCM communities. In addition, assisted living and memory care residents are provided with emergency response pendants to call for help day or night.

13. What happens if you need assisted living or memory care?

Is continuing care available at the community? If not, can independent living residents get care services in their apartments? Many senior living communities, even stand-alone independent living communities, have partnerships with care service agencies that residents can take advantage of.

14. What are the accommodations for assisted living or memory care residents?

Are the rooms private? Do assisted living residents have a kitchenette in their suite? Do the apartments have washers and dryers? Are the memory care rooms inviting and comfortable? How are staff in memory care trained differently than those in assisted living? Can family members join their loved ones for meals at the community?

15. How does the community communicate with families?

It’s important that family members are able to check in on their loved ones.

Are there certain visiting hours for friends and family? If a loved one has memory loss or other issues, will staff set up the technology for a virtual visit? Are there family days and birthday celebrations families can participate in? Are there newsletters, emails, or a portal on the community’s website to keep families informed about activities and community news? 

16. Do the residents seem happy and engaged?

Are residents smiling and interacting with one another? Do staff members seem friendly? Do they address each resident by name? Can you picture your loved one happy to be living in the community?

Find a community near you.

RCM senior living communities are located in highly desirable neighborhoods in Houston, Austin, Oklahoma City, Bentonville, and Durham. At each community, we offer amenities, activities and programs that enable residents to Live Life Well®. To schedule a personal tour or get answers to your questions contact us. We’re here to help you every step of the way. 

Retirement Center Management


6363 Woodway Dr Ste. 300 Houston, TX 77057