Thrive In Place Blog

Critical Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Senior Living Community

You’ve researched several senior living communities in your city online, booked a few appointments to see them in person, and coordinated the carpooling situation with your parent(s). Well done! It’s a lot to accomplish, especially when you have so much going on in your life. But what questions should you ask when you arrive to determine if it’s the right place for your aging parent(s)?

To help you make the right decision for Mom and Dad, we created this list of 7 critical questions you need to ask the senior living staff at the communities you are evaluating. Depending on the type of senior living community – assisted living, independent living, 55+ retirement community – some of these questions may or may not be applicable.

We’ve created a checklist version of this guide and included it at the bottom of this post. Feel free to print this complimentary checklist and take it with you to answer the questions on-site:


  1. How dependent or independent are the residents at your senior living community?
  2. What restrictions do residents have when it comes to their apartments (e.g. is painting or redecorating allowed, forbidden, or permitted within certain limits)?
  3. Are there frequent shuttles to shopping, movies, or restaurants in the area?
  4. Are the apartments and living areas open concept, or more hotel-like?


  1. How frequently do your other residents’ families and friends come to visit?
  2. Is your senior living community partnered with any other organizations (e.g. kids groups) who come entertain and spend time with residents?
  3. How much time do caregivers spend with residents on a one-on-one basis outside of caregiving tasks?
  4. What amenities are available that bring residents together? Pool, gym, gardens, game rooms?


  1. What are the visiting hours at your senior living community, if any?
  2. Do you offer any remote engagement technologies like IndependaTV™ so we can stay in touch with them 24/7 or when needed after hours?


  1. How many caregivers does your senior living community have?
  2. How many people does each caretaker care for?
  3. How long have your caregivers been working here?
  4. Outside of caregiving tasks, does the caregiver spend time with the resident?
  5. With so many different residents at different levels of need, what systems do you have in place to ensure that my mom/dad is safe?


  1. How much does one bedroom cost per month at your community?
  2. What does that price include (e.g. food, entertainment, transportation)?
  3. What is the final price after taxes?
  4. When was the last time you increased rent and why?
  5. How frequently do you expect to increase rent and by what %?


  1. Do you hold any group activities at your senior living community?
  2. If so, which ones and how frequently?
  3. Are the activities mandatory or voluntary?
  4. What kind of games (e.g. backgammon), entertainment (e.g. live performances), and challenges (e.g. learning centers) do you offer to ensure residents aren’t isolated?


  1. What kind of food do you offer?
  2. How frequently does the menu change?
  3. How do you deal with residents who have food allergies or dietary restrictions?
  4. What meals are provided (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner, 2 snacks), and which meals are residents responsible for?
  5. What happens if a resident is hungry and wants to eat later, or if you notice a resident hasn’t been eating as much or as frequently?
  6. Is there an area where snacks and food is available when they want it?

Choosing the right senior living community for your parent(s) is undoubtedly difficult, so take the time you need to think over your options. There’s so much to consider when it comes to picking a senior living community for your parent(s) – from how independent they’ll continue to be, how predictable prices will be over the years, and how safely and comfortably they’ll be able to age in place – that it’s normal to spend a few weeks mulling it over until you are comfortable it’s the right decision for your family.

We hope this quick guide on the 7 critical questions you need to ask your senior living community leave you better prepared for your next community tour.

Don’t forget to download our checklist and take it with you to answer the questions on-site!

Download Your Free Checklist Now:

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  • Our guests use the video chat and photo and message sharing features of Independa to stay connected with their families. In fact this week we admitted a guest who has a daughter in Georgia and another in Italy. I spoke with the daughter about how to share photos and messages and to make video calls from her Independa device, and later went to see the guest about how it was going. She said to me “Kelly this video chat is so cool! I don’t care how long I have to be in here now because I can see my daughters!” It’s just amazing to see one of our guests be able to connect with a loved one all the way from Italy!

    Kelly Miles, Director of Rec Therapy
  • You don’t need to keep calling me now to remind me, my TV just told me to take my medication!

    93 Year Old Independa User
  • I love that Dad can get digital photos now. He didn’t want a Facebook account so the only time he would see any photos was when we came over to visit and we’d show him on our iPhone. Now he gets them himself on the TV all the time, and when people come to visit him he proudly shows them his photo album on the TV.

    USA Properties
  • I’ve been using video chat and it has opened up my world – my family who live close by still visit once a week, but now I get to see them every day. I also get to see the rest of the family who live interstate and can’t come to visit. I also video chat with old friends who I haven’t seen for years. It has made such a big difference to my life, I don’t feel isolated anymore. I highly recommend this to other people; it really does change your life.

    USA Properties
  • I live in California, my 80 year-old dad lives in Texas and my 21 year-old daughter lives in Colorado. My daughter spends all her time on social media using her smart phone, whereas my dad spends all his time watching TV, he doesn’t understand social media and doesn’t have a smart phone. Independa is great because not only does it bring us closer despite the geographical distance between us, it bridges the gap between the generations because it uses the technology they are most comfortable with.

    USA Properties
  • We use the video chat feature in the resident’s TV to get the entire circle of care together at once; we will have the nurse and the physical therapist in the room with the resident, and we will then video call their family. That way everyone who is involved in their care gets the same message at the same time and can ask questions while we are present so there is no confusion. One time when we were working with a deaf resident, we were able to arrange for her daughter to sign via video chat and translate what we were saying and the questions her mother had; it made such a huge difference.

    Wellbridge at Brighton
  • My dad was on the Honor Flight to DC today. An amazing trip for a veteran. I was able to meet him at the Korean War Memorial. He is a Korean War veteran. I was able to send pictures of the entire experience to my mom at home throughout the day. Mom was thrilled, and when my dad gets home he has all the pictures from his trip on his TV and can even play a slideshow. Amazing!!! Thank you!

    Kendal At Home
  • Video chat on the TV is great! I was using FaceTime on my iPad to see the grandkids and I thought that was the greatest thing, but seeing them all on the big TV is truly incredible, it’s like they are in the room with me. I love it!

    USA Properties
  • When Lillian broke her hip a week before her Grandson’s wedding, she and the family were broken hearted because they thought she would have to miss this very special day. Thankfully, she had chosen Wellbridge of Brighton for her short-term rehab. “I’m going to my Grandson’s wedding” she proudly told the staff as she received the video call through her TV and was instantly ‘seated’ in the front row for the ceremony!

    Wellbridge of Brighton
  • I travel a lot for work. I used to worry myself sick about not being able to be there if Mom needed me. She says the smartphone I got her is too small, too complicated, and hard to see, but she loves using Independa. Now she can see all her shows and we can video chat so I can make sure she’s taking her medicine. It’s such a relief to check in anytime and know she’s OK.

    Laura P.