Once you’ve had time to review your options, narrow your list based on the factors that are most important to you. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when narrowing down your list:
- Are there hospitals and medical facilities nearby?
- Do they provide in-home health services important to people living independently?
- Is it in a safe neighborhood with reliable security?
- Are there safety and accessibility accommodations for residents (like handrails and uncluttered interior spaces)?
- Is the community conveniently located for family visits?
The cost of a senior living community is often a primary concern for seniors and family. That's why it's important to make sure you understand your total out-of-pocket expenses when narrowing your search. For example, some communities charge exorbitant entrance fees to secure a spot; others, like communities managed by The Goodman Group, allow you to reserve a spot without paying an entrance fee. But every community does include monthly charges to cover meal plans, health care costs, and other variables.
“I think that it’s important to understand what’s included in the monthly rental,” says Wendy. “Can you get assistance right where you live, or do you have to move to another building or even a different area in the same building? What amenities are included?”
Naturally, the last step of your decision-making process will be to see the senior living communities for yourself. Plan for at least an hour-long visit — longer is better. While visiting, you should:
- Pay attention to the overall design and appeal of the community. Check the landscaping and interior décor to see if they are fresh and inviting.
- Ask to see a model apartment, as well as an unoccupied apartment that is move-in ready.
- Check to see if carpets, paint, and wallpaper are maintained, and that appliances are clean and updated.
- See if the staff is friendly, smiling, well-groomed, and diligent. Do they interact warmly with the residents, or do they seem stressed or rushed?
- Check the appearance and upkeep of the public restrooms — this is a good test of overall standards!
- Enjoy a meal at the community for both you and your loved one. Not only is it a great way to sample the cuisine, but it is also a great way to meet some of the residents.
- Ask about staffing patterns. How many staff members are actually involved in the residents’ care? How many people are working at any one time? Are there Registered Nurses on site?
- Look at the monthly schedule of events. Do the activities interest your loved one? Are they varied and interesting?
- Are there adequate fitness areas within the community? The goal is to increase overall health and wellbeing, reduce the potential for falls, and encourage your loved one to remain active.
In Wendy's experience, it's best to make an unannounced visit for a true picture of what daily life is like in that community. “My advice to families is to not make an appointment," Wendy says. "Go unannounced. See what’s happening when they’re not expecting you. Do people look engaged? Do they seem to have a high quality of life?”
Lastly, don’t hesitate to talk with the residents and ask how long they have lived in the community. Ask about their impressions – what they like, what they love, and what they would like to see changed.
Planning on finding a senior living community in the near future? Download our Senior Living Checklist and bring it with you on your visit to make sure your community checks all the necessary boxes.