How to Find the Right Senior Living Community

Making the decision to move into a senior living community is a major life change. With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the one that is the best fit for your needs, preferences and budget. At Westminster Shores, we have over 30 years of experience helping seniors and their families find the ideal community to call home. This blog provides guidance on how to find the right senior living community for you.

Define Your Needs

The first step is to clearly define what you need and want in a community. Make a list of must-have amenities or services. For instance, do you require:

– Various levels of care from independent living to skilled nursing?

– Particular wellness programs or fitness classes?  

– On-site healthcare services?

– Scheduled transportation?

– Dietary accommodations?

– Engaging activities and events?

Also consider your lifestyle preferences. What kind of setting appeals to you? An urban high-rise or a sprawling suburban campus? What amenities help you enjoy life? Salon and barber shop? Movie theater? Walking trails? Define your priorities upfront so communities can be matched to your wish list.

Involve Family in Your Decision

Your loved ones can provide perspective and support as you evaluate options. Share your list of needs and preferences with them. Schedule tours together so they can give input. A trusted family member may spot things you don’t notice. You want alignment on this major decision. Be sure to clarify expectations around proximity to family and frequency of visits. 

Research Senior Living Types

There are diverse types of senior living communities with varying levels of care and services. Some key types are:

Independent Living: For active seniors who can live independently. Services like meals, housekeeping, and transportation are available if desired. Staff can coordinate care services.  

Assisted Living: Provides help with activities of daily living like bathing, medications, and mobility. Offers increased care & supervision. Some provide memory care.

Nursing Homes/Skilled Nursing Facilities: Round-the-clock skilled nursing and rehabilitation therapy for recovery after a hospital stay or for long-term care needs.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs): Offer a continuum of care from independent living to skilled nursing on one campus. Provides peace of mind knowing future care is available if needed.

Identify the level most appropriate for your health and abilities today with room to grow. Touring communities in person is the best way to get a feel for daily life. 

Location, Location, Location

Choose a location convenient to what’s important – nearby family, access to healthcare, attractions, shopping, and transportation. Look at proximity to:

– Major highways and airports

– Hospitals and medical services 

– Public transportation  

– Retail, restaurants, parks, places of worship

– Colleges for lifelong learning programs

– Cultural attractions like theaters, museums, and sports venues

Map out distances to key points to ensure the location provides accessibility.

Evaluate Safety and Accessibility 

Your health, safety and comfort should be top priorities. Evaluate: 

– Secure entryways with 24/7 staffing and emergency call systems

– Accessibility features like ramps, wide halls and doors     

– Apartment safety enhancements like grab bars, elevated toilets and wheelchair access

– Well-lit parking lots and walkways

– Licensed nurses on staff to oversee health needs

A community with a comprehensive emergency response system provides protection and peace of mind.

Tour Multiple Communities

Touring communities in-person is a must. Schedule tours and come prepared with questions. Observe the staff, residents, cleanliness, amenities and safety. Is the community active, friendly, and well-maintained? Do you see smiling faces and get a welcoming vibe? Try a meal to sample the cuisine. Reflect on how you feel and whether it seems like an enjoyable place to live.

Some key things to look for include:

– Modern furnishings and amenities  

– Program calendar showcasing activities

– Access to outdoor space and walking paths  

– Wellness center and fitness classes 

– Library, computer lab, and communal spaces

Narrow down your top choices after touring and return for a second visit if needed. 

Review Budget and Costs

Monthly fees vary widely based on amenities, location and services provided. Assisted living and nursing care has higher monthly costs than independent living. Look at what’s included in the base rent like utilities, meals, transportation, and activities. Factor in additional fees like carports, cable TV and pet fees. Know what health services are covered and their associated fees if they apply to you. 

Many communities require a buy-in that helps ensure your future care needs can be met. The buy-in is refunded to your estate after your time there. Look closely at contracts to ensure the financial agreements are clear and fair. Get promises in writing.

Talk to Residents

Current residents provide authentic insider perspectives you can’t find anywhere else. Ask about their experience living there and what they like best. Are the staff helpful? Do they feel engaged socially and intellectually? Are the amenities top-notch? Their candid input can help seal your decision.

Take Your Time

Don’t feel rushed into choosing a community. Allow yourself several weeks or months to thoroughly evaluate options. Moving to a senior living community is a major life transition that impacts your daily happiness. Take time to make sure you find the environment that best fits your needs. 

Trust Your Instincts

At the end of your search process, reflect back on communities that stood out. Trust your gut instincts based on tours, interactions with staff and residents, amenities, and your overall comfort level. Moving to a senior living community is an exciting new chapter. The right one will feel like home and provide the lifestyle you deserve.

With proper research and guidance, finding the ideal senior living community can be smooth and enjoyable. At Westminster Shores, we serve the St. Petersburg area, and are here to assist you however we can. Contact us to learn more or schedule a tour. Your new home is waiting!

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