How to Find a Senior Living Community

The search for a good senior living community is often a difficult one. On top of the practical issues to consider, it’s also an emotional time for the seniors and the family members helping them. But you can ease the burden by creating a plan that focuses on the most important issues when making a choice.

The following tips on finding a senior living community can help steer you in the right direction. Everyone’s journey has its own details and variations, but these issues are core issues that everyone should consider. They can steer you to the types of senior living communities that provide the best aging care.

Finding the Right Retirement Community

While it’s impossible to simply set aside emotions and focus entirely on practical concerns, the issues below can help seniors and their families stay on track while finding a retirement community.

How to Make an Elderly Home Safe

Choose the Services You Want

Like every other living arrangement, senior communities range from the most basic care to luxury villas with high-end amenities. Your price range obviously plays a role in this area, but it’s also important to know if the community offers the service you need. Typical services provided in a senior care facility include around the clock supervision and assistance, exercise and wellness programs, laundry, cleaning, and other housekeeping and maintenance services, help with activities of daily living, meals, medication management and transportation services.

Deciding on the Price

This is one of the toughest challenges. Once you’ve determined the level of care and services needed, the task it to find one that provides those services in your price range. People sometimes make errors on price in both directions. For example, some may not stay realistic about what they can afford. However, others may not consider all the financial resources they have on hand that can help them move into the best community possible. These resources include social security, Medicaid and Medicare, insurance, veteran’s benefits, pensions, real estate holdings, stocks and investments, and contributions from family members.

How to Manage Someone Else's Money

Do The Research

A good place to find recommendations for a quality senior living community is with people you know, including family members or close friends, who have experience finding the right retirement community. You also can consult publications that offer information about communities in your area. The Seniors BlueBook provides a great example of this in the Pittsburgh area.

Ask Questions About the Facility

These can include:

  • How many seniors live in the community?
  • How many caregivers work in the community, and what’s the ratio of caregivers to residents?
  • Does the facility feel home-like? Do you like the décor?
  • What are the apartment and room choices?
  • Are private baths available? Are apartments shared?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • What furnishings are provided? Can seniors bring their own furniture and decor?
  • What type of views do seniors get in the community? 
  • How much closet and storage space is provided?

Things to Watch For During Tour

In addition to checking out the living quarters in great detail, a tour of a senior living community also provides an excellent opportunity to talk with residents and staff. Does the staff seem caring and competent, and do the seniors seem happy? Are the other residents people the senior will enjoy spending time with, including sharing meals? Are there plenty of social activities available?

Follow Up After Tour

If there’s interest in a community after you take the tour, there are some issues you want to follow up on after the tour is over. For example, ask for an admissions contract and the most recent results from a state inspection of the facility. Also, get a list of all daily, weekly and monthly activities. Make sure to also look at the menu – this is an especially important issue, as subpar food can quickly undermine whatever positive aspects a community might offer.

The average stay at a senior living community is at least several years, so it’s important to make sure that the community meets your needs. Take the time to plan ahead and do research before making a decision. Like picking a new house to buy or apartment to rent, it’s best to have a plan in place that covers all the important, practical issue before even seeing your first choice.

Find Online Caregiver Support Groups