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Ask These Questions


Three weeks ago, I started a four-part series on senior living communities. Today, we will be looking at the next step. Once you think you have found a location, what questions do you need to ask for making a final decision.

I could go online and find a list of questions to be asked, but I’m not an expert in marketing senior living communities. To give you a better view of what to ask and look for in a community, I have asked Glenda Clerc to pen this week’s article. Glenda is the Marketing Director at The Village of the Heights, a senior community here in Houston and has held this position for over 2 years. She is, in my opinion, one of the best at her job, and abundantly qualified to advise family members and seniors what they should be factoring into their decision.

I know you will learn a lot from Glenda, she is among the industry’s best in the Houston market. That said, if you wish to visit further with Glenda, she would love to hear from you. The best way to reach her is via email at Here is Glenda’s advice:

In his last two articles, Doug discussed how to tell when it’s time to consider senior living and factors to consider in determining a location. Today, I will be giving you some questions to ask when you are touring a potential community.

First, you want to ask if they will be able to accommodate you or your loved one. I need help with bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and escorts to meals. Can you provide these services? What if I need help with medication management, a catheter, administering daily insulin or other medical needs? Suppose I move in and are only there for the meals, activities, and transportation. If my health declines, will you be able to provide other services like assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing?

Another important factor to consider is the “community vibe “and its physical outlay. Are the halls easy to maneuver? Is there one story or more? Do the residents dress up for meals? Are the staff and residents friendly to visitors and each other? Is the community cheerfully decorated? Are there lots of windows with lots of light? Is it in a neighborhood or does it back up to a highway? What type of outdoor space do they have? The right feel of a community will help a senior adjust much better to their new environment.

Of course, you will want to know about the pricing. Typically, you are quoted a price for the apartment only. You will need to ask what is included with this. At The Village of the Heights, we include 3 meals per day 7 days a week. Additionally, we include weekly housekeeping which includes washing linens, transportation to medical appointments, shopping and an active social and educational calendar. We also provide utilities (except personal telephone), a 24-hour staff available for assistance, reserved and guest parking and an emergency response pendant. If your loved one needs medication management, help with bathing, meal escorts ask if those are included in the basic apartment rent. This additional service is called Level of Care. The Level of Care is typically determined by a nursing assessment prior to moving in and usually involves an extra charge depending on the care needed.

Seniors that have lived in their home for many years may be spending more time at home and less time doing the activities they once loved. Activities can play an important role in the senior’s happiness in their new home. When visiting communities, ask what kind of activities are offered? Be specific about what you enjoy. Are they open to incorporating a new activity if the senior enjoys something different? For example, we have a lady that enjoys colored pencil art. When she came to live with us, we did not offer that. Now she leads a weekly class for our residents. Activities can stimulate the resident physically, mentally, socially and increase their confidence by trying new things.

One thing I often hear is my loved one will be losing their independence. By moving into assisted living, your loved one will be gaining a different kind of independence. They will become independent within the community. They will be able to choose from a variety of foods at mealtime and a variety of activities. Additionally, they may be able to choose to have their hair and nails done at the community salon, as well as to see their doctor and dentist. Life becomes simpler and less complicated for both you and your loved one.

In conclusion, these questions are about finding a comfortable place where the senior can live a healthier, happier life in a secure, safe environment. Having good nutrition, stimulating activities and needed care will go a long way in providing a much better quality of life for your loved one and peace of mind for you.