Planning Ahead: When to Start Looking into a Senior Living Community

Here’s the good news: Senior living options have come a long way over the past few decades. Thanks to the baby boomer generation continuing their trend of changing industries for the better, senior living has been planning for their arrival and preparing to meet their needs for twenty years now. 


This means that today’s communities are nothing like the stereotypical clinical places that were common only a few decades ago. Instead, today’s senior living communities are more like resorts than hospitals, bursting with socialization opportunities, wellness resources, bistros, and swimming pools.

Today, you have many senior living choices, which means you are more likely to find one that will meet your loved one’s budget, preferences, and healthcare needs. Without advanced planning, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the choices available for your loved one. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to make a confident decision if you wait to begin searching for senior living options when your loved one is in the hospital or has a crisis event at home.

It’s never too early to begin planning for senior living. It will save time, and you’ll be able to make a more confident decision with your loved one’s input when you plan beforehand. Here’s how to know when it’s time to begin looking at your options.

Not sure where to start when searching for a community for your loved one?  Check out our free guide: 5 Steps for Evaluating and Choosing the Right Senior  Living Community. 

What Is a Senior Living Community?

Senior living communities are communities designed just for older adults. Residents enjoy perks with community living, like friendly neighbors and helpful staff members, as well as amenities that vary from community to community. Not all senior living communities are the same; each is as unique as the residents who live there.

Senior living communities offer a variety of care options that can include independent living, assisted living, or memory care. Some communities serve more than one of these levels of care. It’s important to understand the types of options available—and their associated costs—so you can better choose a community that meets your loved one’s needs now and in the future.


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Independent Living

Ideal for older adults who are tired of maintaining a large home or who are looking for more social opportunities, independent living communities offer spacious apartments and premier amenities. These communities often provide chef-styled meals in ambient dining areas, planned events and trips throughout the week, and friendly neighbors who are always ready to catch up over a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Residents also enjoy easy access to wellness resources, transportation services, and other perks. 

Assisted Living

Offering around-the-clock caregivers who are ready to assist with daily tasks and lend a helping hand when needed, assisted living communities are best for older adults who could benefit from the reassurance that comes with knowing a caregiver is readily available to help. Residents in assisted living communities also often benefit from chef-styled meals served in a social dining room, events and trips that promote overall wellness throughout the day, and caregivers who are happy to help with tasks such as bathing, dressing, or incontinence management.

Memory Care 

Memory care communities are designed especially for those living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. These specialized communities are staffed with caregivers who have had extensive training on dementia best practices, and residents enjoy a home-like environment with activities that mimic natural daily rhythms. If your loved one is receiving memory care services, you can sleep better knowing that professionals are looking out for their safety and best interests while they enjoy things they love.

Signs It’s Time to Start Looking

Senior living works best when residents can take advantage of all the services and amenities. Residents thrive when given the opportunity to get to know their neighbors, participate in interesting clubs, attend fun events, and get to know their caregivers. 

In order for your loved one to enjoy all the advantages of senior living, you can begin the planning process before a crisis or emergency occurs. Plan for what to do if there’s an accident. Become crystal clear about what your loved one needs in a community—including things like green space, entertainment, and family time—and make decisions that take away stress from everyone. 

Here are a few signs that it could be time to begin looking for senior living solutions for your loved one:

Your loved one has fallen in the past few months.

A fall at home can be dangerous and scary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that nearly one in four seniors fall each year, though this number is likely higher due to falls that go unreported to loved ones or physicians. Senior living can provide the extra emergency support, as well as the consistent check-ins, that keep your loved one from falling again.

Your loved one has a complex medication regimen.

Medication errors or mistakes are more common as we age because of the number of prescriptions and the different protocols. If your loved one is frustrated or overwhelmed by their medication regimen, senior living can provide support via medication management services.

Your loved one lives with chronic pain.

Many older adults live with conditions that can lead to serious pain throughout the day and night. Senior living can help with not only medication management, but also with physician communication and assisting with tasks to decrease pain.

Your loved one has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

Dementia is a progressive disease that can make living at home alone dangerous and unhealthy. Specialized memory care communities can give you reassurance that your loved one is safe and healthy, no matter what challenges dementia brings.

Your loved one struggles with personal hygiene or other daily personal care tasks.

Caregivers provide residents with friendly and personalized assistance that preserves dignity and independence. Independent living communities typically do not offer around-the-clock caregivers, but you can find this type of assistance in assisted living or memory care.

Choosing a Senior Living Community

Picking a senior living community takes some research in order to determine if it suits your loved one’s budget, needs, and preferences. Start with a desired location and type of care to narrow your choices, picking communities that are in a favorite neighborhood or conveniently located for family visits. Then, make a phone call to communities on your list to set an in-person or virtual tour. 

During your tour, make observations and ask questions that will help you determine if they offer the type of care your loved one needs to feel their best. Don’t be shy about asking questions, and always follow up your initial tour with another visit for a meal or activity.

It’s never too early to start looking for senior living options for your loved one. In fact, the earlier you are able to begin looking, the more you can involve them in the process so that they have control over their next living situation. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed about the process of sifting through senior living options near you, empower yourself with reliable information. Learn more from our experts by downloading our free guide, 5 Steps for Evaluating and Choosing the Right Senior Living Community

Ready for Senior Living? Find the perfect community for your lifestyle needs with the  5 Steps for Evaluating and Choosing the Right Senior Living Community guide.

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