The 6 Most Important Things Your Senior Living Community Should Have

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6 Important Considerations When Looking for a Senior Living Community
A group of elderly residents sitting in the kitchen of a senior living community while the chef prepares a chicken dinner.

Senior living communities have changed a lot over the years. From the clinical feel of the 1950s to the welcoming, comfortable environment of today, senior living communities have transformed into vibrant places that empower residents to live their best lives.


Today’s seniors enjoy a full suite of amenities, delicious food, and wellness resources as well as the ability to build plenty of new social connections while strengthening existing relationships. But with so many senior living communities to choose from, picking the right community can feel overwhelming.

It’s important to help your loved one make the most of retirement by helping them choose an ideal community to meet their wants and needs. Start planning as early as possible so you and your loved one can spend time evaluating communities and their top features. 


6 Essential Features for a Senior Living Community

To help you and your loved one make a senior living decision with confidence, we’re exploring the most important features to look for in a senior living community.

1. Senior-Friendly Apartments

With tons of amenities and on-site conveniences, senior living communities offer more than just an apartment—but finding a community with lovely apartments is definitely the first step of your search. Your loved one’s apartment should feel like home, have space to personalize and decorate, and be designed to meet the challenges that come with aging.

With a senior falling every second of every day in the U.S., exceptional senior living communities design apartments that reduce the risk of residents taking a tumble. You can determine which communities offer beautiful and safe apartments by keeping an eye out for these factors:

  • Look for floors that are smooth, as well as step-in showers and grab bars in the bathroom.
  • Pay attention to how much natural light the apartment gets. Of course, outdoor space is also nice, but windows that let in natural light are especially important. Beyond making the apartment seem light and airy, the extra light helps with vision challenges.
  • Ensure the apartment is accessible for any mobility device—like a cane, walker, or wheelchair—even if your loved one doesn’t use one now. 
  • Pay attention to the cleanliness of the community. Be aware of strong odors and notice if the community has decorations such as artwork, flowers, and other touches that make it feel welcoming.
  • If the apartments offer kitchenettes, look for drawers and cabinets that are easy to reach.

These small observations can narrow down your community choices based on apartment features.

2. Nutritious and Delicious Food

Perhaps one of the best aspects of senior living communities is saying goodbye to the chore of planning and preparing three meals daily. Poor nutrition in older adults can lead to a litany of serious health complications, ranging from a weaker immune system to a higher risk of hospitalization. 

Exceptional senior living communities should offer a robust dining program, with the common dining room serving as a socialization hub. Spend some time in the dining room to observe how residents interact with one another over a shared meal.

Also look for a community that features a dynamic menu with selections that are nutritious, comforting, and diverse. For example, Cedarhurst Senior Living offers our Crafted by Cedarhurst℠ dining program, which provides a variety of nutritious and delicious meal options. Residents enjoy regional specialties, familiar favorites, low-sodium options, gluten-free options, and more. 


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3. Engaging Events and Programs

In addition to being at an increased risk of dementia, heart disease, and stroke, isolated seniors are also more likely to have a weakened immune system. Peer support and encouragement are vital parts of a healthy aging plan, but that type of support can be hard to come by when someone lives alone. 

Fortunately, older adults can find new connections and friendships more easily in a senior living community. With neighbors right down the hall or across the dining room table, someone is always available to share a conversation or experience. 

Exceptional senior living communities offer residents multiple opportunities throughout the day to connect with others, learn something new, be creative, or explore a new place. Look for a community that has an active event calendar full of social opportunities, trips, live concerts, creative workshops, and more. See if any events appeal to your loved one’s interests, but also keep in mind that exceptional communities actively seek resident input for new ideas.

4. Personalized Care

Depending on your loved one’s current and future needs, you might want to look for a senior living community that provides care assistance. Assisted living communities, for example, offer around-the-clock caregivers to help residents with personal hygiene tasks, medication reminders, or even housekeeping.

If this sounds like an ideal option for your loved one, seek out a community that varies their care based on each individual and their personal needs. Senior living community caregivers should preserve residents’ independence by offering the right amount of assistance and support instead of just completing tasks for them.

Seek a community that communicates with the resident, family members, and preferred physicians to develop a comprehensive care plan that is reviewed and adapted regularly. Communities that involve family members in the care plan process often provide more customized care and interventions for the residents they serve.

5. Amenities to Make Life Easier

Senior living communities offer a variety of extra amenities and services designed to make life a bit easier. Find a community that features amenities to keep your loved one as healthy as possible while also contributing to the retirement lifestyle they desire.

Look for on-site amenities such as the following:

  • Transportation services: The community offers accessible transportation to various spots of interest around town, including medical offices, banks, and grocery stores. 
  • Pharmacy services: This convenience can eliminate the need to drive to pick up a prescription or ask a question about your loved one’s new medication. 
  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy services: Often, your loved one can get easy access to these services on-site that are designed to keep them healthy and strong. 

In addition, look for a beautiful community that features plenty of shared spaces for your loved one to entertain visitors or grab a cup of coffee with a new friend. A picturesque community can be an important perk for residents who live there. Many senior living communities also welcome pets, making these communities and outdoor spaces ideal for walking a dog while getting exercise.

6. Happy Residents

Finally, the best way to tell if a senior living community is great is to observe the residents who live there. Look for residents who are happy and developing friendships with the people around them, including neighbors and staff. Can you picture your loved one settling in among this vibrant and healthy community?

How to Talk with a Hesitant Loved One About Senior Living

It can feel difficult to discuss the move to a senior living community with a hesitant loved one. Remember that change can be uncomfortable, and try to understand their perspective as you embark on these conversations. 

Some strategies you can use to talk with your loved one about senior living include:

Staying Calm

Productive conversations don’t occur when you or your loved one are upset. Trying to have a conversation about senior living communities when you’re upset can damage your relationship with your loved one.

Involving Your Loved One in the Process

Work with your loved one and go through the senior living process together rather than making decisions for them. Give them ownership in the process by asking what community perks they want and which features they prefer.

Focus on the Positives

Your loved one may only see the intimidating change of living in a senior living community, not the benefits. Focus on what they’ll gain such as amenities, socialization opportunities, and dining perks.

Ready to start the senior living journey with your loved one? Find out what makes senior living communities such as Cedarhurst different from the rest. 

What makes Cedarhurst different from other senior living communities?

*Originally published May 2021. Updated June 2023.

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