Know Before You Go: Questions To Ask When You Tour a Senior Living Community

Know Before You Go: Questions To Ask When You Tour a Senior Living Community

You’ve done your research online and narrowed your list of senior living communities. Now you’re ready to visit each one and get a firsthand look at what life is like there, and see if you feel at home. But before you tour a senior living community, it’s a good idea to write down some questions to take with you so you’ll have the facts when you’re ready to make a decision. 

Remember, you’re not just considering a new address—you want to find the support you need to live the life you want. And you want to feel right at home!  

Ready to tour a senior living community? Here are some questions you might want to ask:


Which services are covered in the monthly fee, and which cost extra?

Most modern senior living communities offer a wide range of services and amenities at no extra charge. These could include scheduled transportation, regular housekeeping and flat-linen service, wellness checks, exterior and interior maintenance, on-site security, exercise classes, dining and more. Make sure to ask for a complete list when you tour a senior living community.

What are the levels of care?

Even if you are seeking independent living, it’s a good idea to have a clear picture of the different levels of care available and the rates across all care levels when you tour a senior living community. For example, assisted living for some assistance with daily activities along with access to all community events and amenities. Or memory care specifically addressing those with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia.

Needs can change—find out in advance what is available to you or a loved one. For example, ask if a move to a different apartment is necessary if one later needs a higher level of care. Some independent living communitieslike some of Heritage Communities’are designed so the resident can graduate into assisted living and not have to move. Learning about all of the care types and payment options for those types are some of the most important questions to ask when touring senior living facilities.

What are the residences like?

Be sure to tour a model apartment if possible and ask for floor plans. Check out finishes, kitchen appliances, closets and storage. Is Wi-Fi provided?  Are utilities included? Are there individual controls for heating and air conditioning? If you plan to tour a senior living community for a loved one, ask about safety features, such as safety-assist bars in the bathroom and walk-in showers. Observe if the facilities are well-maintained. Ask if it is owner-operated or operated by a management company. Is it apparent that the owner is investing in the upkeep of the building and amenities? 

What are the dining options?

Find out how many meals are served each day. Are there a variety of dining options from restaurant-style to grab-and-go items? Can you eat in your room if you are not feeling well? What about special dietary needs? In most senior living communities, the chef is well-versed on senior nutritional needs and eager to create delicious options. Be sure to have a meal or two and pay attention to cleanliness, comfort and how the wait staff interacts with residents.  

What kind of activities are offered, and how well are they attended?

A busy and varied activities calendar can offer you new and interesting ways to have fun and learn—and it’s good for your mental, physical, and emotional health. Check out what’s on the schedule. Ask if there are off-site activities, what nearby organizations do they have partnerships with to provide variety, and how does the community utilize technology in their programming. Find out if you can suggest a new club or event that’s specific to your interests. Talk to a few residents and find out how well-attended regular events are.

What safety programs are in place?

When you tour a senior living community, be sure to ask for specifics on emergency preparedness, such as whether there is a plan for what to do in case of severe weather or other natural disaster. How do they communicate with families? Ask about safety features in the residences, as well as their policy for following sanitization practices and monitoring resident wellbeing.   

Does the staff receive ongoing training?

This is particularly important in supportive care, especially memory care. Ask to see the credentials of staff, and find out what the staff to resident ratio is. Also find out the overall turnover rate of staff at the community. 

Is wellness emphasized at this senior living community? 

Are there opportunities to exercise and stay fit? Ask for a list of classes or programs offered. Tour the exercise areas and see what type of instruction is provided. Does the community offer regular wellness checks such as blood pressure or nutritional counseling? Observe the residents you see when you tour a senior living community—do they seem engaged and vibrant? A culture of wellness can enrich and enhance everyday life.

Are pets allowed?

If your four-legged friend or other small pet is your best buddy, ask about the pet policy. Most senior living communities are happy to accept small pets and many have set aside outdoor walking areas where appropriate. 


Here are some questions to ask when touring senior living facilities:


  • What are the residents doing? 
  • Are there people mingling, sitting and socializing in the common areas? 
  • Do you see family members coming and going?
  • How are the staff and caregivers interacting with the residents? 
  • Are they engaged in conversation that shows a true relationship? 
  • Are the caregivers speaking kindly to one another and residents? 
  • Do people greet you and greet each other in the hallways?
  • How clean are the common areas? The common restrooms? 
  • Ask to see a resident’s apartment if possible, not just the tour apartment so you can get a sense of the care and housekeeping services.
  • Think about where the building is located in the greater community. Is it in a residential or commercial neighborhood? Next to a major, busy street? Close to restaurants and places you would want to visit?
  • What is the length of the waitlist? How does the waitlist function?
  • Are the increasing levels of care contained within the same building or in attached buildings to make it easy to visit friends and spouses who may need greater levels of care? 
  • How are increasing levels of care offered? Will it require a move to a different apartment or building?

At Heritage Communities, we are committed to making your life better. If you have questions about how to make the right senior living choice for you or for a loved one, download our free guide, Family Decision Toolkit:  How to Choose the Right Senior Living Community. Or contact a community near you today.