6 Most Important Things to Look for in a Senior Community


What should you consider when embarking on a search for a senior living community? Start by exploring these six crucial elements:

1. Reputation

Local media coverage about a senior community is one of the best ways to gauge the facility’s reputation in your town. Be sure to check the websites and archives of area TV stations, newspapers, magazines and radio stations for coverage of the facility you are evaluating.

2. Residents’ experience

Individual communities provide plenty of testimonials about their residents’ experiences. You may wonder, though, what residents across the country are saying about their senior living environments. In 2013, the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) commissioned a survey (conducted by two independent, third-party pollsters) of 500 residents. Among the findings:

By an 8-1 margin, assisted living residents agree with the following statement: 

“Assisted living communities are an excellent choice for seniors who want to live active, independent lives, but may just need a little help now and then. Assisted living communities have a professional and caring staff that provides a safe ‘home away from home’ for residents. There are ample rules and regulations in place to ensure residents remain safe and are well taken are of. Residents living in assisted living communities enjoy a healthy and high quality of life.”

3. Resources for selling your home

Surprise! More and more communities can arrange for the cash sell of your house in as little as 30 days. Some will even buy your single-family home. These communities provide professionals to advise you throughout the process, from listing your home to selling it. You may also get help with market analysis and selecting a Realtor.

4. Quality of staff

Regardless of their level of independence, all residents of senior living communities will encounter staff members every day. The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) advises prospective residents to consider whether:

  • Staff members have passed background checks. 
  • Staff is trained on elder abuse and neglect.
  • Staff is available for 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living, if needed.

ALFA provides a more extensive checklist in its brochure, “Guide to Choosing an Assisted Living Community.”

5. Condition of property

Aside from visiting the community, how can you size up a prospective property’s status? Turn to public records, including individual assisted living inspection summaries and violation histories, compiled by each state. You can find links to state assisted living records and reports at www.aplaceformom.com/assisted-living-state-licensing. Note: Some states provide far more information than others.

6. Involvement in community

Think the only things that residents can look forward to are bingo games and shuffleboard? Boy, are you wrong. Compared to their predecessors, many of today’s communities are “rowdy – not “rest” – homes. That’s partly because residents remain part of the overall community through a variety of activities. You’ll find residents of senior living communities participating in drum circles, glee clubs and couples’ bridge teams. Some communities even partner with local colleges, enabling residents to attend classes on their campuses

Arm yourself with this and other pertinent information in your quest to pick the perfect senior living community.

For more information on ways to stay active in retirement, download our free guide, 5 Ways to Stay Active in Retirement.

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