Where to Start Your Search for a Senior Living Community
Moving somewhere new can be a challenge and moving to the right senior living community is no exception. With so many options to choose from, the decision can be daunting. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be overwhelming.
Senior Living Questions to Ask Yourself
Here are nine questions to help you narrow down your options in the search for the right senior living community:
1. What matters most to you?
Cost? Meals? Freedom? Activities? Many things may matter to you, but what matters most? This question may help guide you as you look at your choices. Make a list of your priorities and, if possible, number them by importance. As you visit senior living communities, bring your list and determine which ones offer what you want most.
2. What services do they offer that could help you in the future?
If you are looking to find a more permanent community in which to age in place, that might allow you to stay put long-term, be sure you check out what the community has to offer in the way of healthcare and supportive services. You may not need these services for a long time, or at all, but it is always a good idea to think ahead and be prepared.
3. What is the community’s reputation?
The best place to find this answer may be in talking to current residents. Make a list of any questions you have and don’t be afraid to ask them! Many communities would be happy to arrange an opportunity for you to meet residents with similar interests prior to moving in to give you a better feel for the community as well.
Do your research. Contact the local agency on aging or speak to your doctor to find out if they know anything about the community you are considering. Good recommendations go a long way in building confidence in your decision.
4. How long is the community’s waiting list?
Unless the community is brand new, most good senior living communities have a waiting list. If your first choice has a waiting list, don’t be deterred by this. That could be a very good sign. If your first choice has no waiting list, don’t be deterred by this either, but do look into why it has such good availability. There could be very good reasons (higher cost, better amenities, a new expansion, etc.), but it could also be a red flag.
5. What was your visit like?
Visit in person, if possible, or arrange for a virtual tour. Ask to attend a meal. Observe some on-site activities or events. Get a feel for how people enjoy living in the community. Sometimes just visiting a place can help us create the first impression and, while first impressions aren’t the same thing as facts, they can be beneficial.
Also, if possible, take a friend or family member with you for a second opinion. You may experience nerves or pressure when you visit (which would be understandable) and having a second set of eyes and ears may be useful to you later. Keep in mind, though, that you are the one who most needs to feel comfortable with where you live.
6. What do the fees include?
Contracts and the fine print can be frustrating, so it is always a good idea to share it with a knowledgeable acquaintance or family member who can look it over carefully and translate any hard-to-understand points. Bottom line: be sure you know what the monthly fees include and what you will be expected to pay above the general fees. Sometimes, senior living communities are good at telling you what it will cost monthly without really telling you what it will cost monthly when various amenities are added in. Again, do not be shy about asking questions. You are making a big decision, and a community that values transparency will welcome your questions.
7. What are the security measures?
Especially in a day and age where safety is of utmost concern, it is important to know what specific security measures the senior living community has in place. Is it a gated community? Is there security in the lobby? What policies and procedures are in place for medical or weather emergencies? How are concerns communicated to staff and vice versa? Put your mind at ease by asking about security measures at the beginning of your search.
8. What is the proximity to places and people that matter to you?
Do you need to live closer to your family? Are you within a reasonable drive to places you plan to visit frequently? What is the commute to your doctor’s office or place of worship? If you do not drive, does the community offer transportation services to the places you frequent? These questions may not make or break your decision – especially if you are flexible and can easily adapt to a new environment – but you should at least consider what it will take to get where you need to go.
9. Could it feel like home?
This is perhaps the most important question you can ask yourself. Can you see yourself being happy? Could you enjoy dining with new friends? Could you see yourself getting involved in the activities? Do you like the view?
Senior living communities have a funny way of surprising us. Many retirees end up loving their life in a senior living community and wishing they had made the decision sooner. We happen to think if you find the right place, you will learn this to be true for yourself.
Senior Living in O’Fallon, MO
That said, we would like to invite you to check out life at Park Place at Winghaven, located in beautiful O’Fallon, MO. We know what matters most in a retirement community and we think you’re going to like it here. With a variety of lifestyle offerings along a full continuum of care – from independent living and assisted living to a secure memory care neighborhood, we are ready and able to meet your needs and create the future you’ve always dreamed of. Contact us today to schedule an in-person or virtual tour.