Checklist for Choosing a Senior Living Community


Choosing a senior living community includes several important considerations for individuals who are blind or low vision. Furthermore, older people are at higher risk for age-related vision problems, and it makes sense to keep these suggestions in mind when making a decision. The checklist is also useful for senior living staff or planners.

example of contrasting flooring with varying textures
Example of Contrasting flooring with Varying Textures

Environmental barriers include

  1. Hallways that intersect at odd angles
  2. Large open spaces with few landmarks that help with wayfinding and echoes that make it hard to hear
  3. Multiple sets of elevators that could be easily confused
  4. High gloss floors that create glare
  5. Low and/or uneven lighting in common areas, stairwells, and hallways
  6. Throw rugs or waxed or slippery floors
  7. Patterned carpeting that increases visual clutter
  8. Low lying furniture such as coffee tables

Environmental designs that promote functional vision and safety

  1. Color and/or texture contrast in flooring and baseboard choices
  2. Well-marked curbs and the edges of steps
  3. Use of dimmer switches, low-gloss flooring and tabletops, and window coverings to control glare in communal areas
  4. Signage in large print with high contrast as well as in braille
  5. Use of color-contrasting light switches, doorway trim, and handrails
  6. Large, contracting print or tactile markings on mailboxes
  7. Well-lit area surrounding mailboxes
  8. Elevators with braille and large-print signage and voice instructions to indicate arrival, departure, and floor

Staff Knowledge

  1. Does the staff have knowledge of vision loss?
  2. Does staff know about local rehabilitation services and refer as necessary?
  3. Do staff members know and provide human guide technique if requested?
  4. If not, is the administration committed to providing training to the staff on an ongoing basis? (see aging and vision loss toolkit)

Dining Area/Services

  1. Are residents encouraged to eat in the community setting?
  2. If so, are accommodations made?
  3. If not, will food be delivered to the room, if desired?

Suggested Accommodations in dining area

  1. Will staff members provide assistance to get to the dining room if needed?
  2. Is glare control possible?
  3. Do the tables and chairs contrast with the flooring?
  4. Do the dishes and tables contrast with each other?
  5. Is food served cafeteria style or restaurant style?
  6. Do they have readable menus or someone to read the menu aloud?
  7. Is the wait staff trained to assist individuals who are blind or low vision?
  8. Do they identify what is being served and describe the location of each food on the plate?
  9. Do they place glasses, bowls, etc., in the same place each time?

Vision Related Services

  1. Do they have talking books, electronic magnifiers, accessible computers, large print books, or games specifically for residents who are blind or low vision?
  2. Can they assist with assistive devices or products the resident already owns?
  3. Will they provide a large print activity schedule on paper with good contrast?
  4. Do they have a low-vision support group, or are they willing to set one up if requested?
  5. Is their recreation equipment marked with tactile dots so that someone with vision loss can use it?
  6. Are volunteers or a reading service available to help with bills, important correspondence, and shopping?

Individual Living Areas

  1. Are doors to apartments or rooms easy to find—large print and braille numbers, use of contrasting doors and frames?
  2. Do the floors, walls, and furniture contrast with each other
  3. Are the refrigerator, thermostat, microwave, or stove marked with high contrast or tactile dots?
  4. Are call bells easily accessible and marked for visibility and ease of use?
  5. Is it possible to control glare with blinds or rheostats on lights?
  6. Are there enough lighting options to allow for reading in desirable areas?
  7. Is there good color contrast between the floor, the walls, and the fixtures in the bathroom?
  8. Can reflected glare be minimized on shiny surfaces?
  9. Do the grab bars contrast with the background in the tub/shower?
  10. Are washers and dryers marked for ease of use?
  11. Have the household staff been trained to not move things around in a resident’s room and on how to provide simple directions?

Transportation Services

  1. Are accessible vehicles provided for medical appointments, shopping, and/or other destinations?
  2. Is accessible public transportation available?
  3. Have transportation staff been trained in the use of human guide?

Learn More

Organizing and Modifying Your Home – VisionAware

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