Searching through assisted living apartments can be tiring. You sift through a bunch of community brochures (that all end up looking similar) and end up feeling overwhelmed. How can you possibly make the best decision for yourself or your loved one?
As it turns out, there are better ways to find the best assisted living apartments besides just going through a bunch of marketing materials. Here are the things you should look for as well as avoid when searching for the best senior living community.
Things to Look For in a Senior Living Community
1.) Positive Reviews
Finding reviews online isn’t usually that difficult. However, finding helpful ones is a different matter altogether. Here are some things to look out for:
- Success stories from residents
- Reviews that are generally positive
- Anecdotes and appreciation from residents towards staff.
- Positive feedback from employees
The first thing to remember is not to take star ratings at face value. Instead, take some time to read reviews from various review websites and social media platforms. But of course, don’t let reviews alone be your sole basis for your decision.
With that being said, if you’re in an area that has many retirement communities, reviews can be an excellent way to narrow down the options.
2.) An Opportunity to Visit
After you narrow your options down, we recommend scheduling visits to the best assisted living apartments to get a feel of the different communities. This is a crucial step, and it’s even better if you can make multiple visits. Visits are vital because they allow you to form a personalized opinion, which comes from your personal experience based on how you feel, what you smell, what you observe, and the individuals you meet.
What to Look Out For:
- Activities and laughter
- Staff that is friendly to residents
- Plenty of interaction between residents
- Welcoming vibes
3.) Friendly and Open People
When you are visiting a community, take the opportunity to interact with staff, residents, and even family members who came to visit.
If you are searching for yourself, think about having lunch there with the residents to get a better feel of the community. If you happen to be searching on behalf of a family member, ask to be introduced to someone around the same age or care level as your loved one. And if possible, try to talk to that person offsite over coffee, lunch, or a phone call. Then, you can be sure that they won’t hold anything back.
That might sound broad, but we’re talking about information that validates the excellence of a community.
Senior living is a consumer product like any other, so you should be educated. The best senior living communities will have received community awards or offer award-winning programs.
Besides the community itself, you can get more information from unbiased groups like your local Area Agency on Aging. You should also look at applicable state and national regulatory findings for your preferred community.
Summary of Information to Look For:
- Programmatic innovation and excellence
- Evidence of being involved in the outside community
- Accreditations – whether they be local, state, or national
- Surveys from the state (including deficiencies)
Things to Avoid in a Senior Living Community
1.) Bad Patterns
Spotting bad patterns comes from devoting some time to reading online reviews. Yes, they can be biased one way or the other. And oftentimes, they can be jotted down in the heat of the moment, which means that they may not accurately reflect the community. However, it’s always possible that they might be. So if there’s a certain bad pattern present, don’t ignore it in the hopes that it can’t be as bad as described.
You’ll want to consider what the reviews are about and do some investigation. Are they referring to an individual staff member or the entire community? Get as much information as you can beforehand first, and then when you visit, get more clarification. Find out if any changes were made to address the issues in the reviews.
2.) Not Trusting Your Gut
Trust your gut feeling about the community. Don’t be bamboozled and distracted by fancy amenities or a polished sales pitch. Instead, observe the body language of residents, the feeling and atmosphere of the room, and the way the staff act when not noticing you. Something will either feel right or it won’t.
3.) Not Asking Questions
There are no stupid or invasive questions regarding safety, lifestyle, and care. If the pricing structure confuses you, get clarification. If you noticed a bad interaction between a resident and staff member, ask about it. There should always be full transparency from the community. If they are good, they will have patience and answer all your questions.
After asking the obvious questions, you can get more into detail by considering your personal routine or that of your loved one. For example, think about nutrition and meals, your favorite activities, chores like laundry, etc.
4.) Bad Location
The location you grew up in might not be ideal for retirement and may not have any assisted living apartments to your liking. Change can be a good thing, and it can definitely apply here. Don’t box yourself into one specific town, city, or state when searching for senior living.
When you visit new places, don’t just look at the facilities. Look at the surrounding areas too. For example, is there a fun downtown area nearby? What about nature spots with hiking trails, fishing areas, or views of the mountains? Whatever sounds like an adventure to you is a good bet once you’ve entered retirement.
5.) A Lack of Amenities
While focusing too much on amenities is a mistake to avoid, focusing too little on them can be a mistake as well. After all, if you have guests over, you’ll want to have something to show off to them. Thus, the more amenities there are, the more pleasant your overall retirement experience will be.
While many communities can sound impressive with a long list of amenities, those amenities might not be the same quality as those in other communities. For example, visitors may have food options, but they could be quite limited. If that’s the case, don’t be surprised that this same meager approach is also present in other areas. Likewise, if guests aren’t treated well, the same might be true for residents.