The decision to move to a senior living community is a monumental one that can come with many benefits. However, not all senior living communities are created equal. Which begs the question: how do you know which is the best one for your unique goals? Read on for a roundup of five reasons why touring a senior living community is a critical part of making the most informed housing choice.
1. You’ll gain a better sense of your options and which one best suits your needs.
From skilled nursing to independent living, there are many different options available when it comes to senior living. Visiting a community offers a better understanding of the care levels it offers, along with helping you to identify which option best suits your wants, needs and goals.
If you’re visiting a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), this is also an opportunity to learn how that organization supports community members by allowing them to transition between levels of care as their needs change.
2. You can assess cleanliness, security, and other factors.
Seniors rightfully have many concerns about senior living communities. One simple yet significant factor? Cleanliness. A tour will reveal whether a community is fresh and clean. Is there visible dirt and clutter? Are there other signs of disrepair, such as shabby furniture and overflowing garbage cans? Are there unpleasant odors throughout the community? While some of these things may be temporary, others are indications of ongoing neglect.
This is also a good opportunity to learn more about housekeeping, maintenance, laundry services, and security. Which brings us to another benefit of touring senior living communities: the chance to ask face-to-face questions.
3. You’ll get a feel for the community’s culture and atmosphere.
Have you ever just walked into a place and immediately felt a sense of warmth and welcome? Or maybe you’ve been put off by an environment that felt cold and sterile. When it comes to choosing a senior living community, there’s nothing more important than finding one that feels right.
And while websites and brochures offer a glimpse of what life is like at a particular senior living community, they’re also carefully designed marketing tools aimed at showing a community in its best light. Ultimately, visiting a senior living community lets you experience the feel of a senior living community for yourself.
Pictured: The Deupree House Campus at night. Click here to schedule a tour.
4. You can observe the residents and staff in action.
A website or brochure can also give you a sense of the activities and outings planned for community members, but an in-person visit offers meaningful insight into engagement levels. Do community members participate in activities and social events? Do they appear involved and happy? These considerations also apply to staff. Do staff members make eye contact with you and with community members. Are their exchanges with community members positive? When asked a question or for assistance, are they friendly and helpful?
Trust your instincts. If any behaviors set off alarm bells in your presence, they’re likely even worse when not under observation.
5. You can sample the food and dining room experience.
If possible, schedule your visit during a meal. In addition to allowing you to taste the cuisine, you can learn more about menu options, hours and procedures, such as what happens if a community member can’t make it to the dining room for a meal.
But eating isn’t just about nutrition; it’s also a social enterprise. Is the ambiance inviting? Are members interacting with each other while enjoying their food? The answers to these questions reveal important information about the quality of life. Even better? Speak directly to community members about their experiences and opinions. What they share will inevitably reveal more than any marketing materials.
You wouldn’t purchase a home without seeing it in person first, would you? Ultimately, the same goes for choosing a retirement community. Also, keep in mind that it's never too early to start planning ahead. Even if they move to a senior living community still feels like it’s in the far-off future, proactively looking into your retirement community options can help you ensure optimal outcomes if and when the need arises.