What to Look for in a Senior Living Community

There may be only one thing more difficult than making the decision for yourself or your loved one to move to senior living – choosing the best community! But there are ways you can make the process easier. Here’s how.

Start with a Gut Check

This is arguably the most important part of the process because you really can’t identify which senior living community will be the best fit without honestly assessing your needs including: 

  • Current health issues and/or concerns
  • Concerns about social and emotional wellbeing
  • Cognitive challenges
  • Mobility challenges
  • Ability to perform daily activities and tasks independently
  • Ability to maintain the house and/or yard independently

Your answers can then help you begin to narrow your search based on what type of senior living would fit those needs.

Types of Senior Living

Senior living offers a continuum of different levels of care which include:

Independent Living – Residents here require little to no daily assistance. Rather they want more social and enrichment opportunities than are available at home, and more freedom as this type of senior living offers a worry-free lifestyle with home maintenance, cooking, cleaning and laundry taken care of for you. You’ll also find amenities such as concierge services, a pool, fitness center and transportation.

Assisted Living – This type of senior living offers housing and lifestyle opportunities as well as assistance with daily tasks such as bathing and dressing along with 24-hour supervision and onsite care. You’ll find a comfortable, homelike setting plus housekeeping, laundry, transportation and daily social opportunities. Amenities in these communities are similar to independent living.

Memory Care – This type of senior living is specifically for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Communities feature staff specially-trained in dementia care along with 24-hour supervision, plus therapy, structured activities and social opportunities. Amenities include meals, housekeeping and laundry.

Your Senior Living Wants

Now it comes down to what you or your loved one want out of your experience in senior living.

  • Non- negotiables for your family – Budget often falls into this category, but it could be whatever you won’t budge on the community having (or not having).
  • Preferred locations – Keep in mind that location may drive the cost higher or lower.
  • Lifestyle preferences – Social options, outdoor space, size of community, for example.
  • Amenities and/or services you’d like – Are concierge services and or private transportation a must? Are third-party services for extra support in independent living available?

Touring During COVID-19

Even during COVID-19 you CAN still get an inside look at the senior living communities on your short list as most are offering virtual tours as well as links to videos, interactive floor plans and room planners. As you tour and talk to the staff make sure you’re comparing each community on the same criteria such as:

  • Type of accommodations offered and the cost differences.
  • Monthly costs for accommodations and care; and what’s included.
  • The appearance and comfort of the residences, dining, common and outdoor areas.
  • The dining menu and whether or not there is a dedicated chef.
  • Whether they accommodate special dietary restrictions or requests.
  • What programs (fitness, enrichment, social, other activities) are offered.
  • How often housekeeping and laundry services are provided.
  • What amenities are available.
  • Level of daily assistance provided, if needed.
  • Qualification requirements for the staff and whether (or not) they participate in ongoing training.
  • Staff-to-resident ratio both day and night.
  • Protocols in place to protect residents/staff from COVID-19 and how they are communicated.
  • How the community handles medical emergencies
  • Safety and security features that are offered.

Lastly, make sure to check with friends, family, trusted advisors and even residents themselves if possible, to get their feedback on the communities you’re considering. Online reviews can also be helpful.

For more information on senior living, check out our Stay or Go Guide or schedule a virtual tour!


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