Tips for Touring a Retirement Facility

Tip #1: Visit During an Activity

Socialization is important for the mental well being of an elderly person. An assisted or independent living facility should have daily activities for the residents to participate in if they choose to do so. It is always a good idea to try and schedule your tour during an activity or with any community events. Ask the manager if you can watch the activities or even participate. Be sure to observe if the activities and events are well attended. Watch how the staff interacts with the residents during the activity. Do they seem to be having fun as well? Be sure and look over the community calendar of events. Do they match you or your loved one’s interests? Are there a large variety of activities to choose from? Are there trips and outings away from the community? Also, if it is important to you and your family, don’t forget to inquire about religious services.

Alderman Oak’s keeps a very busy monthly calendar filled with activities and events the residents decide on! We have a Resident Council and other committees that meet monthly to discuss which activities were enjoyed, which should no longer be continued, and ideas for new events and activities. We have several weekly outings, Coffee Socials, and activities and classes. Click Here to check out this month’s calendar and join us for an activity or our Happy Hour on Thursday.

TIP #2: Watch how the Staff and Residents Interact

One of the most important features of any community is the attitude and friendliness of the staff. Be sure to observe several staff members interacting with current residents. Do they listen and make eye contact?  Try to get a good understanding of the staffing pattern, even if that means making several visits. Observe and ask about how many people are actually involved in residents’ care?  Get an introduction to the management team and some of the housekeeping and nursing staff. This will not only help you understand the goals of the property, but it will help you establish confidence in the property’s staff. Does the staff treat residents with dignity, respect and a smile? 

Alderman Oaks has successfully nurtured a staff that respects and truly cares about the residents living here. Our staff is respected and encouraged daily, and one way we show our respect for the work our staff does is to pay a competitive wage. We are also aware that our staff members have families at home, and we maintain a family-first attitude. We offer flexible work hours so that staff can have the right priorities when it comes to family life. We encourage our staff to further their education and we try our best to be flexible enough with our scheduling so that staff can fit in their class time.

Each staff member here loves the residents like one of their own family members.

TIP #3: Ask the Residents

Take the time to actually speak to the residents and their families. This way you will get their honest opinions about the community, good and bad. Many communities have a resident council that will be happy to answer any of your questions. A Place for Mom and SeniorAdvisor.com actually have more than 40,000 reviews and ratings from families who have shared their impressions and rated individual communities.

We know that there is no “perfect home,” but we at Alderman Oaks strive to care for our residents and listen to their needs. Every choice we make here has the residents in mind. We do have a Resident Council and residents show up to voice their opinions and frustrations from not having enough green veggie options to deciding what new activity should be implemented for the next month. 

Tip #4: Follow Your Nose

Does the community you are visiting smell fresh and clean? Make sure you look past just the furniture and into the corners, windows, and baseboards. Are there watermarks on the ground? Are the public bathrooms tidy? Are there smudges on the windows and scuffs on the walls?

Make sure you ask how often housekeeping is provided in you or your loved one’s personal living space, and get full details on the types of maintenance provided and estimated response times to get problems dealt with. Don’t forget to ask about laundry procedures and ask what services are available and what the costs are. Odors inside and outside the building may indicate a lack of cleanliness, or just a temporary problem. If there is a bad smell in one section of your tour, it is most likely a single, recent incident. However, if an odor persists throughout the community there is likely a larger problem.

Alderman Oaks takes pride in the look, smell and feel of the community. Housekeeping comes through weekly and  cleans each resident’s apartment, as well as strips and remakes the bed. We care deeply about the cleanliness of our facility and have implemented a policy with ALL staff members that if we see a problem, like trash or water on the floor, we arrange to handle it immediately. If a problem needs housekeeping’s attention, we are quick to notify them as well and stay on top of the situation until the problem is resolved.

TIP #5: Spend Some Time Outside

Most everyone wants to be able to enjoy a nice sunny day outdoors, especially in Florida.  While visiting communities, be sure to investigate the outdoor areas that are available to residents. Does the area feel safe and secure? Is the property properly groomed? Do you see any trash along the road? Does the staff use the same area for their personal breaks? If you are able, walk completely around the building to check for any signs of neglect. A good community will keep the entire building, inside and out.

The giant Oak tree directly across from Alderman Oak’s front door is what gave us our name. Under its shady leaves we have created a little garden with a fountain and benches for residents to come and rest after a walk around our quiet neighborhood. On the second and third floors we also have porches with seating so a resident can grab a book and enjoy the afternoon breeze. We always encourage residents to go for a walk after signing out at our reception desk.

TIP #6: Taste the Food

For most of us, food is an important part of our daily life. For seniors, the dining room experience is very important. While visiting a community, stay for lunch or a snack, as well as ask to see the menu options. Find out what the protocol for ordering meals is and learn about dining hours, options and procedures. Make sure you and your loved one enjoy a meal at the property.

Mealtime is also more than just the food; it is a socialization opportunity. Find out the seating arrangements. Use your mealtime as an opportunity to meet some of the residents. Also be sure to ask what happens if a resident is unable to make it to the dining room for a meal. 

With the importance of mealtime in mind, Alderman Oaks only hires the best cooks in Sarasota. We have several seating options. The assisted living residents are mainly on the second floor, so they can receive more care, while the independent residents dine on the first floor. There are always two main entrée options to choose from, and an array of side dishes and desserts. If an entrée does not tickle one’s fancy, an assortment of sandwich choices can always be ordered. We have also started the Mediterranean Diet, and offer an entrée and side dishes to those who want to eat healthier.

TIP #7: Find out Just how Safe it is

As a caregiver, you need peace of mind when you leave your loved one in the hands of others. Safety and security features are also very important for the seniors. Check out the bathrooms to see how accessible they are, and if they have grab bars in convenient locations. Ask how residents contact staff if they have an emergency in their living area, and in the bathroom. Most areas should be equipped with accessible pull cords that notify staff immediately when a resident needs help. Also find out about other safety features available in living quarters and throughout the community. Be sure to note the staffing patterns to determine who is on-site at all times to assist residents. How do staffing patterns differ at night? How does the community assist or manage residents’ medication needs? Don’t forget to ask specific questions about any other medical needs that must be met for you or your loved one.

Since safety is a top priority for Alderman Oaks, all of our bathrooms are wheelchair and walker accessible. We have pull cords to alert problems in all bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. There is always a nurse on call, night or day. We also offer services where we oversee the administration of medication. We have sign in and sign out sheets to track whether or not our residents are present in the building. The doors are locked at night, but a resident can easily get back into the building with a code. We have security cameras throughout the building to monitor any strange visitors or activity as an extra precaution and to ensure the safety of the residents.

TIP #8: Help with Personal Maintenance

As you go through the tour process, make sure you ask a lot of questions about personal care. Find out what the bathing options are, as well as if an assisted resident has options on frequency of baths. It is always a great idea to observe the current residents while visiting communities. Are they clean-shaven with well-groomed hair and nails?  Do the residents have on appropriate clothing for the activities they are doing and the weather?

Alderman Oaks offer services tailored for you or your loved one. Click Here to visit our Services page.

TIP #9: Trust Your Instincts

As you are visiting the community, visualize yourself living there. Can you see yourself participating in the activities? Are the staff and residents open, inviting and friendly? Have you seen a few other residents that look like they could be your friends? Do you feel relaxed in the environment?  Just follow your instincts and your heart!

For more information, feel free to Contact Us to schedule a tour and complimentary meal.



  • Loving, caring ownership and staff
  • Services catering to different lifestyle needs
  • Active Resident Council and Committees
  • Located in "Heart" of Downtown Sarasota
  • Regular Spiritual Opportunities
  • Flexible Transportation
  • Exercises, health diets, and access to an on-site Wellness Center
  • Weekly Happy Hour with Live Entertainment (We dance!)
  • Just Around the Corner From the Friendship Center
  • Rental Only Apartments (No buy-in required)
  • Choice of studio, one bedroom, or two bedroom Floor Plans
  • Able to transition into Assisted Living if needed