Joyce loves to travel, dine out, and go on shopping excursions with her cousins. But recently, she has become somewhat overwhelmed with the burdens of homeownership.
She and her husband raised three children in their large, four-bedroom family home of 45 years, and have accumulated an abundance of stuff. They’re ready to downsize and leave snow removal, lawn care, and other maintenance tasks behind.
Joyce is also concerned about her husband’s heart condition and managing his diabetes diagnosis. She’s starting to worry that this added caregiving responsibility may be too difficult for her to handle alone.
For these reasons and more, Joyce and her husband have started searching for a senior living community that feels like home and meets their future needs.
Tips to Begin Your Senior Living Search
In her search, Joyce compiled a list of things to look for in each senior living community. She’s discovered that it’s been a helpful tool in comparing one community to another. Check out her list below as you begin your own search for senior living.
It’s important to consider where you want to live. Would you like to live in the same area? Do you want to move closer to your grandchildren?
Take a close look at the community’s website to learn more about them. Are there floor plans available? Any cost information? Can you view images of the grounds or resident activities?
3. Social Media
Follow the senior living community on social media. This is a great way to join in the conversation about what’s happening in the community. Are they actively sharing resident events? Do they recognize their staff for milestones and employee appreciation?
4. Floor Plans and Cost
Call the community and request floor plans and information on the cost of living there. You’ll want to know if the living expenses fit within your budget. And it’s helpful to know what living options are available.
5. Mailing List
Subscribe to their mailing list so you can learn additional information through newsletters, upcoming events, and special promotions.
6. Financial Stability
Ask questions about the financial stability of the senior living community. What is their Standard & Poor’s (S&P) rating?
7. Profit vs. Non-Profit
Is the senior living community you’re considering a non-profit or profit-based organization? Knowing this may provide you with a better understanding of how decisions are made and what stakeholders are involved.
8. Resident Involvement
Are the residents involved within the community? Are there opportunities for residents to serve on decision-making committees or boards? Are financial reports shared with the residents? These are all essential questions to gauge how transparent a community is with the residents who live there.
Related: Stories of life-enriching activities at Otterbein St. Marys >>
9. Pet Policy
If you have pets moving with you, ask for a copy of the community’s pet policy. Where are pets allowed? Can they transition with residents through different levels of care? Is there an additional fee for pets?
10. Continuing Care
You’ll want to know if additional levels of care are offered in the community, should your future needs change. Does the community provide assisted living, skilled nursing, long-term care, or memory support? Do residents receive priority over non-residents in transitioning to a different part of the community? How do the costs differ?
Related: What is a CCRC, and what can it offer me? >>
11. Activity Calendar
Request a copy of the current activity calendar. This will help paint a picture of how active the community is and what types of programs are available. Are residents going on outings? Do they have wellness classes and musical entertainment?
12. Entrance Fees
Ask about the entrance fee requirements for moving into the community. Some senior living communities require an upfront payment that may not be refundable. Other communities offer rental options or a varying fee structure. Gather as much information as you can about the costs.
Does it feel like home? Can you picture yourself living there? Do the residents and staff seem friendly? Do the dining options align with what you’re used to? Do the amenities meet your expectations? Overall, it’s helpful to imagine yourself there — you may even inquire about a complimentary short stay to see if it’s a good fit.
14. Downsizing Requirements
Like Joyce, most older adults will need to downsize from a larger home when moving to a senior living community. Look at the space of the living option you’re considering. Will you be able to bring your favorite possessions and furniture? If not, keep in mind that you may need to buy smaller furniture to fit the space. Think about what is most important to you when making a move.
Related: Simplify your downsizing project with these 5 tips >>
15. Dining Venues
Dining should be one of your top factors in searching for a senior living community. You may not utilize the dining venue as frequently in independent living, but you may depend on it more if your future needs change. You’ll want to make sure you like what’s commonly offered on the menu. What are the dining hours? Are meals included in the monthly fee?
Download Your Senior Living Checklist
Click on the checklist below to download your free senior living tip checklist. This may be beneficial as you navigate your own search for a community that’s right for you.
Free Planning Guide for Senior Living
Considering a move to senior living can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. With the proper resources and support system, you’ll be able to search with confidence.
Here at Otterbein SeniorLife, we understand how important it is to feel good about your decision to move to a senior living community. We also know that it can be hard to know where to start in your search.
That’s why we’ve created a 3-step planning guide to help you find the right community for you. Download it to learn how to evaluate your financial situation, get tips on finding the right community fit and value, and see the most common financing options.