If you’re considering senior living, there are probably plenty of factors to your decision—ideas about enjoying the gardens and taking in the fresh air, a night on the town followed by a snack in the cafeteria, and loads of opportunities to become more active while meeting new people. But every community is different. Just like choosing the right college or spouse, knowing what you want and need—as well as what lifestyle best accommodates your hopes for the future—is key.
Getting the right community fit should be your goal as you explore senior living communities near you. So how do you know when you’ve found that perfect match? Part of it is intuition. Can you get excited about calling this place home? Picture yourself as part of community events? Feel hopeful about your future as a member of the community? If so, then you’ve found the right match.
Getting there can take some time, some planning, and a willingness to do some research. Here’s how to make the right decision.
1. Know What Your Ideal Community Is
Spend some time thinking about how you like to spend your time and what environments you’ve previously felt happiest in. Consider what it is you really want out of a community.
It can be helpful to make a list of must-haves and like-to-haves. For instance, if you know you need help with activities of daily living, then a supportive assisted living community is key. This approach means you can be more objective in your research and decision-making. After all, if a community doesn’t have the dining options you know you want, it doesn’t matter how nice the residents are!
2. Ask for Recommendations
Who’s the first person you call when you need advice? If they have any experience with senior living, odds are good they’re a great option for finding a referral, too. Talk to people you trust such as friends, family, neighbors, and doctors.
It’s helpful to get as specific as possible when asking for a senior living community. Ask questions about why they recommend the specific community they do. This is because sometimes their priorities won’t align with yours. Your introverted friend may relish a quiet community that may not be a fit for you based on your own interests.
Some questions to ask include:
- Why do you recommend this community, and what is your experience with it?
- What’s the best thing about this community?
- What’s the worst thing about this community?
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3. Check the Community’s Reputation
In the world of senior living, your reputation precedes you. Excellent communities are well-known and much-beloved, with residents who are excited to talk about their positive experiences. It’s important to Google the community so you can read online reviews and news stories.
Of course, in a world of fake online reviews and vindictive social media posters, reviews aren’t everything—and may not even be reliable. So put everything you read in context.
Some helpful questions to ask as you review a community’s reputation include:
- What is the content of the reviews? Negative reviews don’t mean much if the posters complain about things you don’t care about.
- Are the reviews you find written by trustworthy posters or by people whose entire review history consists of exclusively positive or exclusively negative reviews?
- How does the community present itself? How does it talk about its offerings? And how does it talk to you?
- Look for signs of community involvement such as volunteer projects, collaborations and outreach, or media coverage of community events.
- Does the community welcome visitors to community events?
- Has the community garnered any recent negative attention?
- Has the community undergone recent alterations that might change what it offers? For example, is there new ownership, new construction, or a new company overseeing dining services?
When you begin visiting communities, it’s helpful to assess whether what you see aligns with or contradicts reviews. For instance, if a single reviewer reports that staff is unfriendly, but every person you encounter is welcoming and compassionate, you can probably ignore that review. But if you find that the staff is indeed standoffish, the reviewer is probably right.
4. Visit Multiple Communities
There’s no substitute for seeing a community in person and envisioning yourself as part of community life. Schedule some time to visit each community you’re considering. To get the most out of the visit, go when you’re well-rested and have the energy to spend some time asking questions and chatting up new friends. Taking someone you trust with you for a second perspective can be really helpful, too.
Some tips for your visit include:
- Plan the visit for an active time in the community, such as during a community event or at mealtime. This maximizes the value of the visit, providing the opportunity to meet more people and contemplate the overall vibe of the community.
- Make a list of questions, and spend some time chatting with a staff member to get clear answers.
- Spend some time chatting with residents, even if you’re shy! This gives you a chance to see how they feel about the community and assess whether the community culture is a good fit for you.
- Ask to see an apartment.
- Sample some of the food so you know if the menu is to your tastes.
- Pay careful attention to how the community looks. How accessible are the amenities? Does the community feel welcoming and cozy? Is it updated and attractive?
5. Trust Your Gut When Looking for the Best Senior Living Community Near You
You know yourself and your needs best, and sometimes, you can’t quite put your finger on why you feel the way you do about a community. You just love it—or don’t like it at all. Pay attention to what your gut tells you. You deserve an exceptional place to call home.
Some decision-making questions that can help you as you narrow down your options include:
- Which community felt most like home?
- In which community was it easiest to talk to residents?
- Was there any community in which you felt you were already making friends?
- When you picture yourself moving to a community, which community do you envision?
- What about location? When all other factors are roughly equal, it’s a great idea to choose the community that’s near friends, family, or attractions you’re eager to visit.
- Revisit your list of wants and needs. Which community offers amenities most consistent with this list?
- Ask loved ones for their feedback and experiences. Sometimes a second opinion empowers you to consider additional factors you might not have considered.
Cedarhurst offers a family of exceptional communities for people with a wide variety of interests and needs. Want to explore if we’re a fit for you or your loved one? Discover our communities and schedule a tour today.