Finding the ideal retirement community for yourself or a loved one is a highly important task. But even after personal needs and wants have been established, families have to identify the very best choice. There are many factors that affect this decision, from level of care to location and even dining options.
Moving into independent or assisted living means finding a new home, so there's no cutting corners. Identifying and settling on the very best option is usually a result reached after lengthy deliberations — but such discussions and research are essential.
Yet there are ways to simplify the process. Leveraging these strategies in a retirement community search can help streamline the decision-making, as well as identify the very best choice for you or a loved one. Here's how to find a good senior living community:
Think of yourself first
Before even reaching the stage of searching for a community, draft a preliminary checklist of personal needs. This guide will serve as the criteria for judging potential choices. It should address items like:
- Care - Define what care needs must be met, whether that's general help with medications, assistance with bathing and dressing, or advanced care. Include mobility needs in this section as well.
- Comfort - What will the new residence need to make it really feel like home? While personal items, decorations and some pieces of furniture can be moved, think about what else will make the residence complete.
- Functionality - If the preference is to have a bathroom close to the bedroom, make sure that's accounted for when comparing communities; it could be a deciding factor.
- Social life - Retirement is the time to relax and enjoy life, and a brimming calendar of events and activities is ideal for any community that is under consideration.
Start with a big list and narrow it down
A rule of thumb for any kind of comparison shopping is to begin the process with a sizable list. Starting out with a large number of choices allows you to whittle down the list, leaving only the very best options. This principle can apply to researching retirement communities, helping you and loved ones better understand the choices in context of one another. For instance, while one community may be a bit further away from family than preferred, it could provide all needed amenities and more, making it a competitive option.
Maintaining a large list from the outset minimizes the risk that you'll look over a diamond in the rough or miss a perfect option. Even if your or a loved one's heart is set on one community, take the time to compare to ensure it is the very best selection possible.
Talk to residents and staff
What better source for information than the horse's mouth? When the process is entering the home stretch, it's natural for you and your family to want to get a clearer picture of daily life at a community. If possible, travel to the chosen location(s) for a tour of the community. Not only does this provide the opportunity for gathering first-hand experience, but it also gives you a chance to pick the brain of residents and staff to gain more knowledge to inform the decision.
In speaking to residents, be sure to ask questions like:
- What's a regular day at the community look like for you?
- What's your favorite part about living here? What could be better?
- Do you get along with neighbors and other residents well?
- How helpful and accommodating is the staff?
Talking to staff can net different information, so ask questions addressing topics including, but not limited to:
- Contract and cost specifics.
- Qualifications of care staff and other employees.
- Cleanliness and hygiene.
- Visits from family and meals.
Speaking with staff also enables you to gauge the character, friendliness and approachability of staff, which is yet another important consideration in finding the best community.
Talk to others
There's no doubt that a lot of moving pieces are involved in a making a decision on a retirement community. Even if you feel like you and your family have a good grip on the process, getting advice from knowledgeable sources can provide added assistance. Countless others have searched for a retirement community, or are actively searching for one right now just like you. Soliciting feedback from online forums is one way to get real-world takes from people who have already gone through the process. Relatives and friends who have done the same can provide further advice on how to optimize the selection process.
Planning your or your loved one's retirement? Talk to us today for help.