The decision to move to a senior living community is like choosing a college. But unlike college, you might live at a senior living community for a decade. This chapter should be one of promise and hope for a vibrant future. Finding the right community for your needs can provide you with a new sense of hope and a plan for the next stage of your life. And just like college, you have many good choices, but the key is finding the right community for YOU.
Here are some helpful tips when searching senior living community for yourself or loved one:
- First and foremost, do your research.
In this day and age where information is as your fingertips start online. Google is your friend, see what is available in your area. Search things like “senior living community” or “continuing care retirement community.” Online research is the first step but not the only step. Call communities you are interested in – Are they responsive? Do they offer tours?
- Visit the community to see the accommodations in person.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well then experiencing it in person is priceless. There is nothing like seeing the location, staff and other members firsthand. This cuts to the heart of the hunt for a senior living community. Ask yourself – Can I see myself living here?
- Ask about the calendar events and programs that are available.
One of the biggest benefits to being in a senior living community is other seniors. Many seniors feel increasingly isolated in their own homes. The switch to a new community offers new opportunities to learn, socialize, and play. Ask to see their calendar – are there events that interest you?
- Ask about Food and Dining Options?
We all like a good meal. Do they offer all-day dining service, are there multiple options (restaurant, café or dining rooms)? The more meal options that are available, the more likely it is you’ll find something delicious and healthy that you enjoy.
- What Training and Qualifications do Staff have?
Excellent staff and caregivers are the heart of an excellent community. Ask about the specific training and qualifications of staff at every level. What medical providers are available? Who will be interacting with you on a daily basis? How many hours of training do staff receive, and what sort of continuing education must they complete?
- Is Transportation available?
There’s a whole world outside of your community, and it’s important to remain connected to it. Ask about the community’s transportation options. Be sure to ask whether or not you can request additional transportation as needed and any associated fees.
- How is safety and security handled?
Everyone wants to feel safe and secure where they live, but for most older adults contemplating life at a senior living community, safety is paramount. Ask what the community does to ensure your safety. Make sure 24-hour security is on campus and ask who responds should an emergency occur pertaining to your health.
- Find out how the community communicates – whether it’s informational or handling grievances.
We live in an era of lightning-fast communication. Ask about the communication channels the community uses – emails, Facebook, or newsletters. How does the community take into account member feedback? No community is perfect; however, excellent ones are committed to great customer service.
- And of course, we can’t forget the cost. How much will it cost?
Many of us learned at an early age it is rude to talk about money, however it is also critical when planning for the rest of your life. Don’t feel like you are being stingy or cheap – finances are a major factor in your decision. After you’ve visited and decided that a community is on your list of top choices, get a clear cost breakdown. Some questions to consider:
What is the base price per month or year?
How are costs paid, and will they change over time?
What is the cost for the amenities and living arrangements I saw.?
What specific amenities are included in the base price?
What add-ons do I have to pay for and at what cost?
- Ask questions!
Don’t just read marketing materials and tour communities. You deserve as much information as you need to make the decision. No question should feel too big or too small, and you shouldn’t be shy about your queries. By taking a proactive stance to ask about the issues that concern you most, you increase the likelihood that you’ll find the perfect fit.
This is a big decision, but you will know the right place for you or your loved one. The right community opens new doors to grow and make connection while providing a safe space to live out your golden years. There’s no perfect senior living community; however, there is a perfect senior living community for you.