Choosing a Retirement Home: How to Choose a Retirement Community for Yourself or a Loved One

Retirement is an exciting transition filled with new opportunities and choices. As you or a loved one ages into the golden years, there may be more discussion of moving into a senior living community. With benefits ranging from socialization, healthcare, amenities, and convenient services, it’s easy to understand why so many seniors are moving into retirement communities. And while the choices may seem overwhelming, it’s important to do proper research and find the right fit.

Our goal is to provide you with a few tools and resources that will help you find the best senior community for yourself or your loved one.

Choosing the right level of care

Perhaps the most important factor in finding the best retirement community is understanding the level of care needed. This refers to the amount of health care available in the community and varies from just some assistance with daily tasks to higher levels of care needed. Many people prefer communities that offer multiple levels of care so they can stay in their community as their care needs change.

Independent Living

Independent Living communities offer a vibrant option for those aged 62 and better who are looking for a more social and independent environment. Independent Living communities are designed to create a carefree lifestyle by providing service options such as housekeeping, transportation, maintenance, and restaurant-style dining. These communities also help keep residents full of fun, with a calendar of on-site events, social opportunities, and educational programming, all coming together to create an exciting, fulfilling lifestyle that today’s seniors expect.

While each Independent Living community is different, they are most commonly set up as apartment homes that have access to central resources such as professional staff, dining services, and well-appointed amenities. From resort-style living to comfortable homes, there are many different Independent Living options available.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living is a great option for seniors who want all the benefits of a senior community, but may need a little more help with daily tasks. Assisted Living communities offer service and care options such as housekeeping, meal preparation, personal hygiene, medication management, transportation, and more. It’s important to choose an Assisting Living community that also focuses on individual choice and independence.

Just like an Independent Living community, Assisted Living communities provide wonderful opportunities for learning and laughing, with social calendars full of programming, events, and educational opportunities.

Memory Care

For those with loved ones living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, finding the right community is important. A Memory Care community provides those living with dementia with the programming and personal care catered to their specific needs. These communities provide a safe, secure, and calming atmosphere that helps residents feel more comfortable and at ease. A team of professional nursing staff are trained in the cognitive, behavioral, and physical symptoms that often accompany dementia.

Memory Care communities also have security protocols to make sure residents are safe on campus, so loved ones don’t need to worry. Families can feel more confident because their loved one is surrounded by 24/7 attentive care, security systems, and alarmed community entrances and exits.

Skilled Nursing Care

For those recovering from an injury, acute illness or who otherwise need long-term assistance, a Skilled Nursing community provides the care you or your loved one needs, 24/7. Skilled Nursing provides care to those who may need help with mobility, personal care, or managing medication. Like other forms of senior living communities, when looking for a Skilled Nursing community, there should be an emphasis on enjoyment and quality of life. Just like other levels of care, Skilled Nursing should take care of not just the body, but also the mind and the soul; providing activities and opportunities to learn, experience and grow.

Deciding the location

When considering a senior living community, location is a big deciding factor for many seniors and their loved ones. Are you looking to live close to the rest of your family or would you prefer to be in a new part of the country? Do you prefer a hot climate or a colder climate? This is also a good time to consider accessibility to nearby landmarks such as entertainment venues, doctors’ offices and hospitals, groceries and restaurants, airports, and generally anything you may want to frequent.

Choosing the experience

Once you’ve nailed down the key requirements of a senior living community such as level of care and location, it’s time to turn your attention to the intangibles. While evaluating a community you should be sure to consider things like:

  • Amenities: Amenities vary vastly from community to community, so it’s important to know what you want. For instance, are you set on a swimming pool, fitness center, and spacious outdoor areas? What about libraries, game rooms, and movie theaters? Knowing what amenities are important to you and which ones you can live without can help you narrow down your search and ensure you get the most out of your community once moved in.
  • Services: You may notice during your search that most communities offer common services including housekeeping, restaurant-style dining, laundry, and transportation. In addition to these services that help with daily tasks, medical-related services such as medication management, on-site therapies, and availability of nursing staff are important considerations, especially for those who need a little more assistance. Services are here to make your lifestyle easier, so be sure to know which ones benefit you most from day to day.
  • Programming: Daily programming offers seniors a variety of activities, with most communities offering a new calendar every month. In fact, we recommend asking to see the current months calendar in communities you’re interested in to get a feel for the lifestyle there. Are you interested in educational activities such as lectures and trivia, physical activities such as yoga and fitness classes, or artistic activities like cooking, painting, and gardening? Many communities offer a healthy variety to suit all residents, but it’s always best to double-check that the hobbies most important to you are available.

Most important when choosing a senior living community is the way it makes you feel. Senior living communities are homes, and you’ll know that when you visit and see the community for yourself. If you’re ready to start your search, visit our our interactive community map to find communities in your desired location.

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For more information on retirement options that fit your budget and lifestyle needs, reach out to a Senior Lifestyle community near you.
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