In my career in sales of senior living accommodations, I’ve found that one of two things happens when older adults begin their journey to retirement communities.
They either know exactly what they want and need … or …
They’re overwhelmed by the abundance of available options.
That second situation is not surprising: There are many things to consider, from services and amenities to programming and opportunities for exploration and learning.
My goal is to not let the search for the perfect senior living community become a challenge, so here are five brief tips that can help you or your loved one choose the right community.
Before you begin, however, I always advise making a list of your personal wants, needs and desires. After that list is complete, search for senior living communities both near you and a little farther away (but see the caution below about family and friends). Don’t write off a community just because it’s a little farther than you thought you’d like—it might just be the perfect community for you.
Plus, be sure to schedule tours, check items off your list and try to picture what your life would look like there. Here are my personal suggestions for building your list:
1. Consider the environment. Do you thrive in the city, where there are plenty of shows to attend, musical performances to enjoy and shopping and dining opportunities? Or do you prefer the laid-back countryside full of peaceful walking trails, horseback riding and nature? In either case, be sure to tour communities that fit your preferences. If you’re open to a good mix of both, you may find communities that offer the best of both worlds. But never settle for a lifestyle that’s less than what you want.
2. Is it close enough to family and friends? If you love spending quality time with friends and family, refrain from moving too far away from them. Tour communities close by and consider if there is enough space to entertain, if friends and family are allowed to enjoy the community as well, and if they can accommodate dinner parties or sleepovers.
3. Don’t forget dining. When touring, ask to dine at the community. Ask questions such as:
● Can you meet any of my dietary needs, such as gluten-free or dairy-free?
● Will a nutritionist meet with me to discuss my health and wellness goals?
● How many meals do we receive per day?
● Are there multiple dining venues?
● Can meals be adapted to my tastes and preferences?
4. Do the communities have the services and amenities you want, with the floor plans you desire? It’s important that a community offer all or most of what you are seeking. If you want a home with more than one bedroom, a kitchen and a patio, you should be able to find one. If you want a fitness center on site, available laundry and scheduled transportation, make sure the community you tour can accommodate those requests.
5. Will your changing health-care needs be met? The care a retirement community provides is important and it’s crucial to have peace of mind and feel secure in the future. If a senior living community cannot meet future care needs, while also continuing to provide the active lifestyle you love, it’s best to consider other options.
After you tour, go through your notes and rank the communities you’ve visited. If you find several you are interested in, arrange a second visit and try to participate in some programming to immerse yourself in the lifestyle offered. If you haven’t found one that interests you, continue your search.
Remember: you’re selecting your home for your retirement years. You want it to be as perfect as possible!
Regional Director of Sales, Marketing & Business Development
Diakon Senior Living Services