Finding the Right Nursing Home: The Basics
Choosing a senior living community that meets your needs isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it’s a case of not being able to find anything suitable in your area. Other times, it’s a case of having too many great options to choose from.
When you’re first starting to search for retirement living, independent senior living, or assisted living communities for yourself or a loved one, quick internet searches can be plenty of help. Even starting with search terms such as “assisted living near me” or “senior living near me” can set you on the right path.
As you’ll discover, finding your ideal retirement community or senior living community isn’t always as easy as searching the web. Read below for ten quick tips we’ve compiled to help you find a great senior living community.
1: Determine Your Needed Level of Service
Not all senior living facilities are alike. Each facility type offers different levels of service corresponding to the needs of the populations that they serve. In fact, a retirement community and a senior living community can be two very different things.
An independent senior living community is a place for seniors who are still, well, fairly independent! Migrating to an independent senior living community is an option for you if you’re looking to focus less on being a homeowner and more on self-care, focusing on your own interests, and maintaining your overall mental and physical health.
Independent senior living communities provide plenty of opportunities to make new friends and get a much-needed new start. If you’re essentially just looking to downsize and simplify your life, independent senior living is likely the best option for you.
A retirement community still allows you to retain much of your freedom and independence, but can provide assistance with personal care in the same way that an assisted living facility would.
2: Review your Options for Senior Living and Retirement Living
Searching for ideal independent senior living or retirement living near you can seem like a daunting task to tackle. If you want to stay in a familiar place, but you’re discovering that most of what fits your lifestyle is miles away, this can cause a great deal of anxiety. On the other hand, having a wealth of options nearby can often feel overwhelming.
For a search that most successfully yields the results you’re looking for, try the following:
- Use search terms that are more specific than “assisted living near me” or “senior living near me”. Try “best senior living communities in (your area)” or “top-rated senior living communities in (your area).”
- If you prefer to stay closer to your current location, set a search radius in accordance with your wishes. This radius can be anywhere from 5, to 25 or 50 miles out of your area.
- Keep detailed records and rule out communities or facilities that do not meet your needs. For instance, if you’re looking for an independent senior living community, rule out retirement living, assisted living, or nursing homes*.
- Look for communities with higher ratings (typically 4 or 5 stars)
- Look for customer/resident reviews and, if available, lists of compliance violations.
- Make proper accreditation a part of your search.
*To make narrowing your online search easier, follow this tip: use a minus dash (-) to eliminate unwanted search options. For instance, if you’re just looking for an independent senior living community, your search phrase should look like “top-rated senior living near me -retirement community -assisted living -nursing home”.
If you’re having trouble making a short list of retirement and senior living communities in your area, you can sign up for a free account with Nursing Home Reviews today! Making an account gives you access to important information, such as ratings, reviews, and violation lists, regarding retirement and senior living communities in your area.
3: Make a Short List of Your Best Choices
Once you’ve done some research, make a short list of the retirement communities or senior living communities that best meet your needs. Of course, your list can be as long as you want, but for ease of choosing, it’s best to narrow your choices down to about five communities that best suit your needs and lifestyle.
4: Visit the Websites of your Chosen Communities
By this point, you should have a short list of independent senior living and retirement communities that fit your needs. Go over your short list and visit the websites for your chosen communities.
A good website for any retirement living or senior living community will highlight:
- Available amenities
- Floor plan options
- The overall size of the community/facility
- All costs associated with living in the community
5: Consider the Cost-to-Benefit Ratio
It’s no surprise that a senior living community or a retirement community can be expensive. However, you may be surprised at just how affordable the right choice can be, especially compared to the cost of home ownership. To determine whether or not to justify the cost of moving to a particular community or facility, consider the cost-to-benefit ratio.
To first determine your cost-to-benefit ratio, you’ll need to look at two specific variables:
- The current monthly cost of owning and maintaining your home (utilities, taxes, maintenance, renovations, and money spent on groceries and entertainment).
- The monthly cost of a unit in a senior living or retirement community in relation to the benefits and amenities that they offer (room and board, paid utilities, meals, activities, etc.).
For your final ratio, determine the total monthly cost of owning and maintaining your home by adding all necessary variables listed above together. Then, compare that number to the monthly cost of a unit in a senior living or retirement community.
Determine this ratio for each of the senior living or retirement living communities or facilities on your shortlist. This is bound to make your choice a little easier!
6: Call to Schedule Tours of the Communities on your Short List
Once you’ve chosen the senior living or retirement communities that interest you most, fit your lifestyle, and bear justifiable costs, it’s time to visit. Give each community a call and set up a time to take a tour. This will give you a chance to introduce yourself to and interact with the staff members, as well as potential neighbors.
7: Ask Questions During Your Community Tour
Before you visit any independent senior living or retirement community, you should make a list of priorities that are most important to you. This will help you develop questions to ask as you tour your chosen communities.
You should be sure to ask questions regarding:
- The safety and security measures taken to protect residents of the community or facility
- Whether the community or facility is accredited, or certified by Medicare or Medicaid
- The qualifications and education of programmatic and medical staff.
- Accessibility to amenities for all residents
- What makes the community or facility stand out from the rest
It’s important to make sure that all questions you ask are answered to your satisfaction. You should never feel pressured to move to an independent senior living or retirement living community or facility that does not meet all of your needs. If you aren’t hearing the answers you’re looking for, then you likely haven’t found the place for you.
8: Watch the Staff Closely
During your tour, you should pay close attention to the general attitude of community or facility staff. Note not only how they interact with you, but also how they interact with current residents and other staff. Are they friendly, open, and attentive? Do they seem standoffish, aloof, and careless?
You want the staff to always have your best interests in mind, and you want to know that you’re in good hands. Noting the attitudes and demeanors of staff members as you tour a facility or community is a great way to avoid finding yourself in an unfortunate situation.
9: Interact With Your Potential Future Neighbors
Throughout your tour, you’ll meet plenty of current residents. Make sure to start conversations! Talk to them about their experiences in the community, good or bad. Take note of any pros and cons you might hear, especially the cons.
Current residents likely won’t hold back when it comes to talking about:
- How safe their community is
- The quality of the meals that they’re served
- The quality of their amenities and activities
- How they’re treated by the staff
Just make sure not to stir up any overly negative feelings that may create agitation. Some seniors may be having a hard time emotionally, which can make some questions feel intrusive.
10: Trust Your Instincts Regarding the Community
In the end, it all comes down to how you feel. If a place feels warm and inviting, or you get the impression that a community isn’t right for you, trust your instincts. Once again, you should never feel rushed to move into a place that isn’t right for you.
Nursing Home Reviews strives to be the top resource in your search for an ideal retirement living or senior living community. Please feel free to use our site to research and compare all communities and facilities you may be considering. Register for an account today to see reviews, ratings, and violation lists for retirement and senior living communities in your area.