How to Research Senior Living Options for a Family Elder

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How to Research Senior Living Options for a Family Elder

Researching senior living communities for a family member can be overwhelming. If you haven’t been through the process before, everything from the terminology to the pricing structure may be tough to decipher. When you are trying to make a good decision on a loved one’s behalf, it can leave you feeling stressed and uncertain.

Fortunately, there are concrete actions you can take to be more confident about your decision.

Researching and Choosing a Senior Living Community

  • Ask for recommendations from people you trust.

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a senior living community for an older loved one. When you start asking those around you—friends, colleagues, clergy, and physicians—you’ll probably come up with a few communities to explore. Just as important as learning which properties people have had success with, is learning which ones to avoid.

  • Read senior living community reviews online.

Another way to gain insight about a senior living community is by reading what residents and their families have to say. Sites like and host reviews about independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities all across the country.

  • Review each community’s state survey results.

While the regulations vary by state, every senior living community undergoes annual state surveys. Surveyors also make unannounced visits to investigate claims lodged by residents, families, or other interested parties.

In many states, these results are published online by the department of aging or the department of health and human services. If your state doesn’t post this information, you should ask each community you are considering for a copy to review. By law, communities must share these results.

  • Always make several in-person visits.

While reviews and survey results are important, nothing replaces visiting senior living communities in person. Visit and tour first to get an overview, and assess whether or not the community would be a good fit for your older loved one. Come prepared with a list of questions as well as paper and pencil to take good notes.

Once you narrow your choices down to a few communities, come back and spend time during a weekend and/or evening. This will help give you a true picture of how well the community is managed during non-business hours.

  • Take advantage of short-term respite programs.

Many people see respite care as a program for family caregivers to take a break. While it definitely does that, it also provides older adults and their families with a chance to try out the community for a permanent move. When you feel like you’ve narrowed your choice down to one or two strong prospects, schedule a respite stay for your loved one.

Another tip is to be sure the older adult’s respite lasts longer than a few days. Staying longer will provide you with a more objective look at the community.

Our final suggestion is to download our free guide, Home Care vs Senior Living. It offers advice to help make a decision that is the best fit for the older adult.

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