Making the Right Decision: 9 Questions to Ask Senior Living Communities

Living Options   |   By HumanGood


Touring a senior living community is perhaps the single most important step you’ll take on your journey to finding your next home. 

Any community can put some nice pictures on a website or brag on social media. However, seeing the community in person — meeting residents, experiencing community life and maybe even tasting the food — gives you the opportunity to envision yourself living there and helps you understand whether that’s a vision you like. 

The best communities are eager to show off all that they offer. They want you to be happy in their community, and that means helping you decide if they’re a good fit for your lifestyle and needs. Don’t shy away from asking plenty of questions during your tour. Doing so can help you compare communities and offer the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve made the right choice. 

Here are our top questions to ask senior living communities when you go on a tour. 


1. What types of homes are available? 

This is a big decision, and you deserve time and space to contemplate it. It’s important to know what types of homes are available and whether the options suit your needs. Many communities offer a wide range of options, from cozy studios to expansive luxury villas. It’s not just the home, either; you’ll also have access to a range of services to make managing your home easier. 

Consider asking the following: 

  • What sizes and floor plans are available? 

  • What does each home look like? Can I see one? 

  • What services are included in the base price? 

  • Are there other services I can add, such as laundry or housekeeping? 

  • Is there outdoor living space, such as a balcony? 

  • What does the community offer to support independence? For example, do bathrooms have grab bars and walk-in showers? 

  • How do homes differ based on the level of living? If I need assisted living, will I have to move to a new space? 


2. What is the pricing structure? 

Being able to afford a senior living community, in addition to any other services you want or need, is a key ingredient in the recipe for a low-stress retirement. You need a deep understanding of your own budget and how the community fits into your financial plans. 

Consider asking the following questions: 

  • How is payment structured? Do I pay an entry fee? 

  • What is included in the monthly fee? 

  • Are there add-on services? How much do they cost? 

  • Is food included in the price? If not, how much do various meal plans cost? 

  • What happens if I exhaust my financial resources?

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3. What amenities and programs do you offer? 

One of the strongest selling points of any senior living community is that it enables you to easily access resources and amenities that may be inaccessible — or very expensive — when you continue to live in your current residence. These amenities and programs can be a gathering point for the senior living community, fostering social connectedness and combating loneliness. They also make it easy (and more affordable) to remain active so you can live your best, healthiest life. 

Some questions to ask are: 

  • What specific amenities do you offer, and are they included in the monthly fee?

  • What are the availability hours of each amenity? Are any regularly closed? 

  • What sort of on-site support is available? Are staff available at the pool or fitness center? 

  • Do you offer pet-friendly community options, such as a dog park? 

  • Do you offer classes for residents? 

  • What about stress-relieving opportunities, such as yoga? 

  • What type of cultural, educational and recreational programs do you offer? 


4. How do you foster a sense of community? 

Many HumanGood residents cite the sense of meaningful community as a primary factor motivating their move. The best communities know that people need help to build lasting relationships, and not every resident is going to be a fearless extrovert. Be sure to ask about how the community welcomes residents and nurtures meaningful connections. 

Try starting with these questions: 

  • Is there a welcoming committee? 

  • What can I expect from the community when I first move? 

  • Do you offer spiritual services? Where do they take place, and who oversees them? 

  • How does the community celebrate holidays, birthdays and special occasions? 

  • How do you promote resident input and involvement? 

  • Can residents suggest new amenities or social events? 

  • Do residents often start their own groups or clubs? What clubs are currently available? 

  • Is there a resident council or another type of board I can get involved in? 

  • Do residents ever do volunteer projects? 


5. How do you promote residents’ health and safety? 

Be sure to explore community safety and security while you’re on a tour of the community. A high-quality community should offer significant peace of mind. Residents know there’s help available if they ever need it. They travel with ease, knowing their homes will be safe while they are gone. 

Some questions to pose include: 

  • Is there on-site security? 

  • Are there alarms in each unit? 

  • Is there any emergency number or call button? 

  • Are there fall prevention measures built into each home? 

  • How safe is the surrounding neighborhood? 


6. What is the transition like? 

The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a community only to find out there’s a two-year waiting list and the type of home you want isn’t available. You deserve to know what to expect and how long you might wait. 

Be sure to ask the following: 

  • Is there a waiting list? How long is it for each type of home? 

  • Once I sign the contract, how quickly can I move? 

  • Do residents who are on a waiting list have the option to participate in community life? 

  • Can I attend events before I move? 

  • What do you do to support and welcome new residents? 

  • Do you offer help with downsizing and move management? 


7. How is the food? 

Food is fuel, and it’s a key ingredient in the recipe for a healthy lifestyle. It’s also a huge source of pleasure. The best communities offer food that not only tastes good but is also good for you. 

Here are some questions to ask about the community’s culinary offerings: 

  • Are meals prepared fresh, from scratch? 

  • Who prepares the meals? Do you use food vendors or a chef? 

  • Are there a variety of dining spaces? 

  • Do you offer convenience and snack foods or just meals? 

  • Do you offer meal plans for special dietary needs, such as vegan, low-sodium or diabetic-friendly choices? 

  • How can I make dining venue reservations when family members and guests visit?


8. Is your community for-profit or a nonprofit? 

Nonprofit communities are dedicated solely to their mission: the well-being of residents. For-profit communities have a profit motive that may encourage them to reduce costs and prioritize money over the best possible support and care. 


9. Can I get involved now? 

Asking the right questions can provide a lot of useful information, but the best way to assess a community is to experience it for yourself. Ask about your options to participate in community life. 

Some questions to ask include: 

  • Are there community events open to the public that I can attend? 

  • Can I eat a meal or two on campus? 

  • Can I talk to any residents? Do you have resident ambassadors? 

  • Can my family come to a community event to explore life here? 


A senior living community can improve your quality of life and help you continue living on your terms, no matter who you are or what your needs are. Many prospective residents are surprised to learn how affordable senior living can be, especially given the myriad amenities they offer. Learn more with our free e-book, “The Complete Guide to the Costs of Senior Living.” Our “Complete Guide to Touring a Retirement Community” is also packed with ideas to help you make the most of your tour.

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