Retirement Communities: Tips for Choosing the Right One for Your Loved Ones

Insights from a Retirement Community Sales Rep

The search for the right retirement community can be a daunting task. Most people find themselves thrust into this situation because of an emergency they experienced with a senior. Exploring these uncharted territories can be overwhelming, but fear not, as we have a few helpful tips to help.

1. Remember who you are shopping for

One of the most important tips I can offer is to ask yourself, “Is this something my parent/uncle/etc. would like?” I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve toured a young adult, and all of their decisions were based on what they liked for their loved one and not what their loved one would want. I once had a gentleman who toured with his lovely mother and asked about the therapy pool in our community. He shared that he was primarily interested in our pool activities for his mother. When I asked her if she enjoyed the pool exercise, she shared that she was afraid of the water. Though he ultimately chose our community for the excellent pool therapy program offered, she chose the community because of the tremendous social program offered to our residents.

It can sometimes be challenging to acknowledge that the senior in our life isn’t as active as they once were or that their interest and hobbies might have changed from when they were younger. Honoring their current person and where they are in this moment is essential in choosing the appropriate community and creating a path for success in their new home.

2. What Medical Services are offered at the community?

With so many communities available, looking at what medical services are offered is essential. Even if the senior in your life is very independent, it is vital to prepare for the changes in their health. It is necessary to ask what kind of medical staff are available if ever they need it. Most assisted living communities will have caregivers or Certified Nurses Assistants (C.N.A) to help seniors with their daily needs. A select few will have a nurse either available or on-site 24/7. It is crucial to ask which of the two they offer, if any. People who are sliding-scale diabetics would need a nurse present 24/7.

3. Budget

Having a crystal ball with answers on planning for the future would be fantastic but unrealistic. For this reason, you must carefully and realistically plan for any cost increase. Most communities increase their cost 1-2 times a year. Also, keep in mind that most seniors tend to decline in health as they age. This means they could eventually require assistance with activities of daily living such as toileting, medication management, and cognitive decline, to name a few.

4. Do the leg work so they don’t have to

Visiting too many communities can sometimes harm the seniors’ experience. They can become confused as to what they saw where and can become mentally and physically drained. I recommend you visit all of the communities you feel would be top contenders and narrow it down to no more than 3. Schedule a time to visit the community and enjoy a nice lunch. Try not to schedule more than one community a day. Also, remember to take lots of pictures so that when you sit down with your loved one, you can reference the information handed to you on the day of the tour along with the pictures as a friendly reminder. Talk with your loved one and remind them that you support them in their decision-making process. They must feel respected, seen, and part of the conversation – after all, this significant decision will directly impact them.

Ensuring our loved ones are in their best place is so important. With so many communities on the market, you will surely find the right one for that particular person in your life. I hope these tips lead you to the best community for the senior in your life.

About the Author: Lizett Schulz

Lizett Schulz is the Marketing Specialist at St. Paul’s Senior Services. She has been with St. Paul’s for over 5 years and enjoys educating families on senior living and what to keep in mind when looking at communities for a loved one.