Checklist For Selecting the Perfect Senior Living Facility in the Greater Houston Area
There comes a time when we find ourselves asking where is the best long-term place for mom or dad. Sometimes it's an official diagnosis like dementia or Alzheimer’s and other times it’s just noticing memory lapses coupled with the inability to care for themselves, their house, their bills, their finances, and a lack of desire to cook or even eat. Any of these reasons by themselves make looking at senior living homes worthwhile. After all, when it comes to your mom or dad or you're elderly, you’ll want to find the best senior living facility you can find.
In case you’re curious if you’ll find some great senior living options, there are approximately 28,900 assisted living communities with nearly 1 million licensed beds in the United States today. The average size of an assisted living community is 33 licensed beds.
Every senior living facility in and around Houston will have its own personality, unique meal plans, floor plans, amenities, services, and activities. It’s important to find one that offers independence, dignity, choice and a loving environment where your loved one is proud to call his or her new address home.
Prior to searching for senior living communities, ask your mom, dad or the senior you’re trying to place in their forever home a few questions so you can narrow your search further. These questions are designed to speed up your search because they help you identify whether your loved one needs additional care and assistance while acknowledging their location preferences and activities they most desire.
Questions to Ask to Form a Shortlist of Senior Living Facilities For your Mom or Dad
What are you expecting and what do you need from a senior living community?
This is where knowing your mom or dad’s personality comes in handy. Are they big on walking trails or gourmet food or playing cards or arts and crafts? Do they need to be close to a barbershop or a hair salon? Do they need to be close to favorite stores or restaurants?
Do you need assistance with any tasks like budgeting, dressing, getting in and out of the bathtub or shower or help with other personal care?
Only you and your parents know the answers to this question. Let the senior living community staff know if your elderly needs help in any area of daily living.
What’s your budget for a new place?
Discuss your loved one’s budget. If your loved one has champagne taste and a beer budget then you’ll want to consider the facilities he or she can afford unless you or other family members are pitching in. If your loved one has insurance, this might allow you to consider some more costly senior living homes.
Do you have long-term care insurance?
Long-term care insurance would certainly take the burden off the monthly cost.
Where would you like to live?
Some people are quite picky about which parts of town they want to live in. Discuss this with your parents to make sure he or she is comfortable with the facilities you’re considering,
What amenities and activities are a must-have?
It’s likely that your loved one is set on certain amenities over others. For instance, maybe he or she enjoys taking a hot bath every evening. Then you’ll want to look at senior living communities that have an available private room with an adjoining private bathroom. If your mom or dad likes music, walking, chess, painting and arts and crafts then you’ll want to inquire about those specific activities.
Are there any deal breakers you can think of that would prevent you from considering a prospective community? (e.g. fresh foods, gourmet meals, barber or hair salon, housekeeping services).
Discuss this question with your mom or dad and see if he or she has any deal-breakers that would exclude certain senior living communities. Sometimes meals, housekeeping service or being in close proximity to a barber or hair salon can mean the difference between considering a senior living facility and excluding it.
More Topics to Discuss to Narrow Your Search
Location, Location, Location
Discuss your top location preferences with the senior you’re trying to place. There will obviously be some senior living facilities in more desirable neighborhoods and others that might be in less desirable neighborhoods. Share the locations of the facilities you find with your loved one to confirm you’re both on board with the neighborhoods you choose. Keep in mind that the senior living facilities you’re selecting on your shortlist should be easy to find using GPS when it comes to s and friends visiting your loved one. In case you haven’t started looking yet, a good way to find your ’s forever home is by going to the Internet and using a search engine like Google, Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge. Type in key phrases like “Senior Living Facilities near me” or “Independent Living Facilities near me” or “Assisted Living Facilities near me.” You can also type in any of the phrases mentioned earlier like “Memory Care Facilities near me” or whatever phrase makes sense along with a specific location instead of the “near me.”
Lifestyle and personality
: It’s wise that you consider the lifestyle and personality of the senior you're searching for. Would the senior you’re searching for prefer a large campus with lots of activities or would they opt for a smaller, more intimate community with a fair amount of activities? For instance, a shy person who only keeps in touch with a handful of friends might feel more comfortable in a more intimate setting.
Contact your top facilities
. Search for senior living communities in and around your target location, and develop a shortlist of your top three. This means the location is optimal, the community size is ideal. The amenities and features are desirable. It also means you’ve considered the activities and the menu of the senior living facility. Understand that some communities might call themselves an independent Living facility while others might refer to Assisted Living facility. Some facilities will mention Memory Care and that’s typically for residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Additionally, some facilities will serve all these communities: Senior Living, Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care. At this point, you’ll want to rule out facilities that don’t meet your loved one’s criteria and end up with a shortlist of your top three most appealing facilities.
Questions to ask at your top senior living communities
What is your staff-to-resident ratio?
It’s important to know your staff-to-resident ratio so you are sure your loved one will get the attention he or she needs. The last thing you want to learn is there’s 1 staff to 12 or 15 residents.
What type of training does your staff have?
You’ll be comforted to know all staff members have some college or training at a health care trade school.
Do you have a high employee turnover rate?
This is key because if the staff has a low turnover rate then you can feel like the senior living facility you choose offers a stable, drama-free environment.
How many staff members are on the night shift?
Knowing how many staff are on the night shift puts you at ease because you don’t have to feel like your mom or dad will be ignored or overlooked.
How many staff members are on the day shift?
While there’s not any mandated resident-to-staff ratios, most states dictate most state there should be sufficient numbers of personnel, and that their qualifications and competencies should be in line with their ability to provide services to meet resident needs and to provide healthy living and safety.
What are the types and sizes of units available?
Like residential houses, every senior living facility varies according to apartment sizes, amenities, floorplans, and other perks like gourmet meals, barbershops, salons, fitness centers, walking trails or tennis courts.
Are your apartments furnished or unfurnished?
Most senior living facilities are furnished yet allow you to bring clothes, and personal items like toiletries, your phone, laptop, framed pictures and other small mementos. There are some that allow you to bring furniture but they are fewer in number.
Do the units have kitchens or kitchenettes?
This question will only matter to those who like to cook and pride themselves on not only cooking but having a large enough kitchen to eat in the kitchen immediately after they have cooked another gourmet masterpiece.
Tell me about your private rooms.
It’s expected to inquire about the size of the room and whether private rooms or suites or cottages have attached bathrooms or if the bathroom is outside the bedroom.
Tell me about your private bathrooms.
This question is designed to learn whether the private bathrooms have a bathtub and a shower or just one of the other. If you’re winding down by taking a hot bath, and the facility you’re both considering has showers only then you’ll want to keep looking until you find all the amenities your mom or dad is accustomed to.
Can you describe the units available for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s?
Residents who have dementia or Alzheimer’s are often forgetful and do best when following a structured routine. So having an easy-to-follow floor plan, an easy facility layout, and a structured routine will be highly desirable and appreciated. For more in-depth information, visit our blog post on dementia and Alzheimers.
Do all residents have a written care plan, and who is tasked with creating these plans?
Find out who is tasked with writing a care plan for your mom or dad so you can give that staff member some information. It will be helpful to share certain things like if your mom or dad requires a special diet or has to have certain medications each day or if he or she has a certain morning and bedtime routine or if certain interactions get on your ’s nerves. Share what activities are your ’s favorite, and which s and friends should be on his or her call list and which ones are also on his or her visitation list.
Is there a website, brochure or contract available that details all fees and services along with admission and discharge policies?
You’ll want to see all the fees all together so you can determine if your or you can afford his or her new digs.
Are additional services available if a resident learns he or she needs a higher level of care in another more structured living area?
This is where you want to be completely honest about your ’s health. If you’ve seen signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s then say so. The last thing you want to do is set up your loved ones for failure by pretending they’re capable of independent living when he or she is curled up on a couch with a blanket and can’t remember his or her roommate or joins an activity group and is the only one non-communicative, drooling and staring at the ceiling.
What types of medical insurance do you take?
Some facilities take Medicaid and Veterans Affairs Benefits but pass on Medicare or private, long-term health insurance.
What types of meals are cooked? Are there three healthy meals a day plus healthy snacks? Can you provide a menu?
Your loved one doesn’t have to be a “foodie” or a food critic to enjoy their favorite meals. You’ll both want to peruse the menu to make sure your loved one will enjoy rather than get turned off by mealtime.
Where does your community evacuate to when a hurricane, tropical storm or fire causes a mandated evacuation of the facility?
This is critical to know in case there is an emergency evacuation due to foul weather, fire, or for some other unforeseen reason.
Tour your top facilities
Call today and schedule an in-person tour. The best way to get a feel for the community is to visit and tour the community in person. You’re going to want to know the community is bright, clean and odor-free. Are the residents happy and is the staff responsive to the resident's needs and requests? Does it look like a safe place to house your loved one? Do staff and residents interact in a meaningful way? Are the buildings and grounds well maintained? Is there a safe enclosed walking path for the residents to stay fit and not get lost? Compare amenities in available studios, apartments, suites or cottages and determine which ones best fit your loved one.
Get a feel for each community
Speak to as many staff and residents as you can to get their opinion of the community. It goes without saying that most senior living facilities will want you to speak to their sales team members and perhaps hand-picked health care professionals yet you will gain fresh insights into the community if you speak to residents or health care professionals of your choosing. It’s also important to gauge how staff interacts with residents so pay close attention to see if the interactions are conducted in a way that allows residents to retain their dignity intact. Dignified interactions between residents and staff are critical for the long-term happiness of your loved one.
You’ll want to call and confirm safety records of the senior living community you’re interested in. So where do you start? Well the federal government regulates nursing homes and the state regulates assisted living facilities. There’s no centralized database for these facilities but there is a number you can call and it’s the state health department of social services to learn the safety record of the state facility you're interested in enrolling your loved one in. You’ll want to know that the facility is complaint-free, meets or exceeds regulatory standards and has zero violations or citations.
Review fees and services
Many housing decisions boil down to location, fees, amenities, activities and services. This is your opportunity to review all the services, amenities and activities included in the senior living community you're considering, and ask about any hidden fees. Ask about application fees, administrative fees, security deposits and move-in and move-out costs and inquire if there are any penalties in the event you have to move your loved one out suddenly either because your loved one had to be hospitalized or because the staff has determined your loved one needs to relocate to a higher level of care unit. You’ll want to know if you’re responsible for the payment of the apartment that no one is currently living in. It’s your turn to review all the services and fees and make sure you’re on board. You will want to inquire about utilities and whether they’re included or if you’ll have to pay a monthly fee. Asking about the conditions of recouping your deposit is fair game. If your loved one uses the Internet to search or schedule ZOOM calls or has to have cable TV, then you’ll want to know the monthly costs for these.
Ask how much of your ’s monthly senior living costs can be absorbed by insurance. Some senior living facilities accept long-term care insurance and Veteran Affairs Benefits. Medicaid covers some expenses too whereas Medicare does not cover long-term service and support. Private health insurance also covers some expenses. Most families seeking senior living arrangements for their mom or dad may have their parent’s substantial life savings to draw from or the family pays out-of-pocket for this continual care. It can get expensive with costs easily running into thousands of dollars per month depending on the facility and the level of care needed. There are facilities that charge only for the services and care required and others who charge a flat rate to every resident. Both work well. It boils down to what you’re comfortable with the fees included and whether you understand what specifics will be on your loved one’s lease agreement.
Review a schedule of activities
Ask to see a schedule of activities so your loved one can find some activities of interest. While activities vary from facility to facility, some activities that are fairly universal include book clubs, drawing, painting, arts and crafts, woodworking classes, educational lectures, writing workshops, fitness classes, pet therapy and movie times. Some facilities even provide a full-service barber and beauty salon.
Choose a facility
Learn about the policies of your number one senior living community. All senior living communities, independent living facilities, assisted living facilities and memory care have rules and regulations that you and your loved one need to be okay with. For more in-depth details, it’s a good idea that you both read and agree with the rules, regulations and any additional policies the facility wants you to sign. Some of the main questions you’ll want to ask are:
- Can residents come and go from the facility freely?
- When and how are visitors permitted?
- Can you bring your own pets?
- What personal items can be brought to a senior living apartment?
Village Green is an award-winning assisted living and memory care community that offers many housing options tailored to meet your 's needs. Both independent, assisted living and memory care communities offer seniors the opportunity to form social relationships, pursue hobbies and interests, and remain active.
You’ll quickly see we have impressive private suites, each featuring peaceful surroundings in a calm home setting designed to recreate what you have enjoyed his or her entire life. Interior spaces are decorated similar to tasteful private homes. Enclosed walking areas provide residents the opportunity to safely enjoy and explore their campus surroundings.
Just beyond your apartment door, your living space extends to many welcoming spaces for socializing, entertaining and recreation. The services and programs at Village Green make it easy to attend events and activities, participate in healthy exercise or enjoy the company of others. Check out our engaging opportunities, amenities and services. For more detailed insights into choosing an ideal Memory Care facility, read our blog post.
For the convenience of families living in and around Houston, Texas, Village Green offers assisted living and memory care communities in The Woodlands, Cypress, Champions, Conroe, Kingwood, Tomball, Rockwall, Mckinney, and Highland Village. All our locations are state-of-art, purpose-built with our residents’ needs in mind. We invite you to visit and tour our many assisted living and memory care campuses to see what each one looks and feels like so you can gauge our vibe, personality, and fit for your loved one. Touring our communities and getting your questions answered will go a long way to help you sleep easier once you have added reassurance and peace of mind that your aging loved one is in good hands. Plus, when it comes to managing the places where people live, there’s no substitute for experience. Our 100-year history makes us one of the oldest, most experienced and most desirable company in the apartment business. We welcome you to visit us in person and ask us any question as we remain committed to the health, safety and well-being of all our prospective and current residents.