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What to Ask and Observe When Visiting Continuing Care Retirement Communities

En español | As with any care facility, you and your loved one should visit all potential continuing care retirement communities before making any decisions. During this visit, plan ample time to tour the grounds, talk with residents and get a guided tour by the staff. Also build in at least an hour to sit down and go over any questions or concerns you and your loved one have. To help, here is an outline of what to observe and what to ask during your visit.

See also: 8 steps to make independent living work.

General Community Questions

  • How many homes/units are there?
  • How many homes/units are available at this time and can you see specific spaces?
  • Are there general visiting hours, or are they broken down by type of residence? What are they?
  • Is there a waiting list? If so, how long may it take to be accepted and admitted?

The Grounds and Facility Location

  • Are the facility’s grounds well maintained, manicured and easy to navigate?
  • Is the facility located in a desirable area?
  • Are there ample conveniences in and around the community (i.e. grocery stores, cleaners, a shopping mall)?
  • Are your loved one’s doctors within close proximity?
  • Is there a hospital nearby?
  • Is there bus or mass transit available nearby?
  • Is this a smoke-free facility? Are there designated spots for smokers?

Initial Impressions of Staff and Community

  • Are you greeted upon entering?
  • Is the main office easy to find?
  • Is the staff professional and happy to help?
  • Do residents seem happy and well cared for?
  • Are residents social and interacting with one another?

The Staff

  • What credentials do staff members hold?
  • What is the hiring procedure for staff, doctors and nurses?
  • Are staff, doctors and nurses required to take continuing education classes?
  • What hours do facility administrators work and are they usually available for questions throughout the day?

The Residents

  • If possible, arrange to talk to current residents. Consider asking:
  • How long have you lived here?
  • How do you like living here?
  • How are the services?
  • How is the care?
  • Is the staff attentive without being intrusive?
  • Are the doctors and nurses helpful and accommodating?
  • Is there anything missing?
  • Is it worth the cost?


  • Do the housing options meet your loved one’s needs?
  • Are there different floor plans available and options to choose from?
  • Are both single- and double-occupancy homes available?
  • Are residences equipped with modern conveniences (laundry, dishwasher, etc.), full kitchens and individual thermostats?
  • Are common areas properly cooled/warmed, furnished and clean?
  • Do homes/units have outdoor living space for residents to enjoy?
  • Is there ample light and are rooms/homes equipped with sprinkler systems and emergency exits?
  • Are the assisted living and nursing facilities clean and modern?
  • Are layouts in all types of housing wheelchair and walker friendly?
  • Are floor plans efficient and pleasing to your loved one?
  • Is each residence equipped with handicap bars, non-slip floors and other safety features?
  • Do multi-level residences have elevators?
  • Are furnished residences available?
  • Can rooms/homes be painted? Are there decorating rules?
  • How is security addressed in each type of facility?
  • Are rooms in the assisted and nursing facilities private? Does each room have an en suite bath?
  • Are units/houses set up for cable and telephone service? Are these utilities included in monthly fees or paid separately per unit/house?
  • Is parking available to residents? And is additional parking easy to find for visitors?
  • Are pets allowed?

Meals and Meal Programs

  • Do the assisted living facilities offer group meals or in-room meal programs?
  • What meal programs are offered?
  • Are special diets catered to?
  • Can residents make special requests?
  • How many entrée choices are offered daily?
  • What is the meal schedule and is there any flexibility with it?
  • Are snacks included in any of the meal plans?
  • Can guests dine in with their loved ones? If so, is there a fee?
  • Ask to see a sample of a month’s worth of menus to see how meals are changed up.
  • Ask to sit in on a meal to see if the choices are to your and your loved one’s liking.

Next: More questions to ask about the CCRC experience»

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