May 20, 2024

So, you’re starting to research senior care options. But where do you start? What makes sense for your specific needs? Your friend claims to know the best retirement communities in Hawaii, but you think otherwise. Here’s the good news: knowing what’s right starts with knowing what to ask. We have you covered with the ultimate Hawaii senior living checklist:

Search senior living by location:

  • Is the senior living community in a town that you like?
  • Is it convenient for family and friends to visit?
  • How far away is the airport?
  • Is the area safe, with a low crime rate?
  • Is it close to shopping, restaurants, a medical center, and other services?

When you call ask:

  • Are you currently accepting new residents?
  • If not, is there a waitlist, and how long is the wait? 
  • Are there age restrictions on this senior living community?
  • Is the community gated or open?
  • What is the cost range, and is there a buy-in fee?
  • What services and amenities are included in the price?
  • What services are available for additional fees?
  • What types of payment do you accept?
  • What are the housing options, and do they suit your needs?
  • Is this a continuum of care community (CCRC)? (Are there other levels of care available, such as assisted living, should you need it?)
  • Do you have any programs to help with the transition process?

When you visit ask: 

  • About living arrangements:
    • Do you have a wide range of housing options, including smaller apartments or studios should you wish to downsize?
    • Did you show us all the different types of units available?
    • Is there adequate in-unit storage space, and is additional storage provided?
    • How are the views?
    • Are pets allowed and, if so, are there limits on type or size?
    • Will you be allowed to have visitors at any time and overnight, or are there other rules?
    • Is there a homeowners’ association with membership fees?
    • Are there homeowner rules about upkeep and decorating?
    • Will you be required to have renter’s insurance?
    • Are housekeeping services available, and at what price?
    • Which maintenance issues are you responsible for and which are included with the unit?
  • About cooking and food:
    • Will visiting family members be invited to join in for meals?
    • How often does the menu change?
    • Do you accommodate special diets and allergies?
    • Is there a meal plan, and how flexible is it?
  • About activities and social life:
    • How are the common spaces?
    • How large are the outdoor areas for recreation and exercise?
    • Is there an extensive, varied schedule of classes and activities?
    • Are there evening events, such as movie nights and local performances? 
    • Is there a gym or fitness center?
    • Are there media and computer rooms available?
    • Is there a private dining or community room available for special events?
    • Are there religious services in the community or nearby?
    • Is there a barbershop and beauty salon in the community or nearby?
  • About the staff:
    • Is there an activity director or staff member charged with organizing and leading activities?
    • What’s the staff turnover rate?
    • Are background checks performed before hiring staff? If so, when and how?
    • How much training do staff members have?
    • Does the community work with an agency or registry that provides in-home care companions in case you need future assistance?
  • About medical care:
    • Is there an RN or CNA on staff?
    • What specific services are available from doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and others?
    • Is the community affiliated with a hospital or nursing home if more care is needed?
  • Forms to ask for:
    • A recent list of weekly activities and events
    • A recent weekly menu of meals and snacks

Closing words of advice:

Write down all the answers to your questions as you go, and keep a checklist like this for each of the retirement communities in Hawaii you visit.

If your visit was scheduled ahead of time, it’s a good idea to return for an impromptu drop-in visit to see if your experience is just as pleasant. (If you’re told you can’t come in for an unscheduled visit, that’s a very bad sign.)

Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few favorites, schedule in-depth follow-up visits and dig a little deeper.

For more information on what to expect, contact our friendly staff at The Plaza Assisted Living.

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