Finding the right senior living community near you can be tough. All that researching, planning, interviewing, and touring—it all takes time.
And even after putting in the work, how can you really be sure this is the community you want to spend your best years in?
This guide will help you spot which senior living communities offer quality service and which ones you should avoid.
Inside, we’ll be looking at four characteristics you should be looking for as well as four red flags of facilities you’ll want to avoid.
Table of Contents
4 Qualities to Look For
Below are a few qualities to watch for that indicate quality care.
1. They Offer the Right Level of Care
First and foremost, you want to be sure the senior living community you’re looking at offers the right level of care for you. In most cases, a facility will fall into one of three categories:
- Independent Living Facilities – These facilities promote independent living. Though emergency and health services are typically on-site, residents mostly tend to their own needs.
- Assisted Living Facilities – A step up in terms of care, these facilities will offer help to residents for tasks like medication administration, assistance with personal care, and daily tasks like meal preparation. Residents usually still live in their own apartments.
- Nursing Homes – These facilities offer the highest level of care. A nursing home will usually focus on providing a higher degree of medical care. Skilled nursing care, 24-hour supervision, and assistance with everyday activities are all found in nursing homes.
2. The Community Has Plenty of Social Events
Staying socially active is vital for older adults. In fact, the CDC reports that loneliness in old age is associated with:
- Increased risk of premature death from all causes.
- 50% increased risk of dementia.
- Increased risk of heart disease (29%) and stroke (32%).
- Higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
- 4X higher risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits among heart failure patients.
Plus, retirement living is supposed to be fun! That’s why you’ll want to make sure the senior living community you choose has plenty of social events like movie nights, happy hours, exercise classes, holiday celebrations, and more.
3. Their Staff Is Experienced & Attentive
As you’re touring through facilities, take particular note of the staff. What are they like with residents? Are they helpful or dismissive? Do they seem competent or bumbling? Do they seem happy or under a lot of pressure?
You can tell a lot about a facility just from the demeanor of the staff. So make a conscious effort to study what they’re like.
You should also ask about what the facility’s hiring standards are like. Is there a certain amount of experience required? What kinds of licensed medical professionals do they have on staff? How often are they actually at the facility? These are all key questions you should ask on every tour.
4. The Amenities Are Plentiful
This is going to be your new home for decades. So, you better be sure it offers lots of amenities to keep you active, engaged, and safe.
- Housekeeping services
- Delicious and regular meals
- Consolidated utilities
- Recreational events within the community
- Variety of facilities like gyms, media rooms, and libraries
- Trips, shopping, and cultural events
- Concierge services
- 24-hour emergency response systems
- On-site home health and private duty services
- Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
- On-site skilled nursing
- Transportation to physician appointments
- Support with medical errands
- Supportive services for personal care
Look for senior living communities that have a long list of perks and benefits for residents. With the right community, you may just end up feeling like you’re on vacation every day.
4 Qualities to Avoid
Below are a few red flags that indicate a senior living community you should stay away from.
1. Their Visitor Schedule Is Suspicious
An overly restrictive visitor schedule is always a bad sign. It’s reasonable to expect a facility to lock their doors in the evenings for security purposes. But generally, friends and family members should be able to come and go as they please.
If the facility you’re looking at has unnecessarily strict visiting, it could indicate they’re trying to hide their bad practices. Be wary of these types of facilities.
2. Staff is Hesitant to Discuss Fees
Don’t hold back talking directly about fees. Ask exactly what’s included in the monthly costs and what costs extra. Question how often price increases happen. And figure out if you’ll be notified ahead of time.
If the tour guide or staff offers shaky answers, it’s never a good sign. Prices should be transparent. And any facility that’s unwilling to provide them is a bad egg.
3. Workers Seem Uninformed & Rushed
If you’re getting the sense that the staff doesn’t quite know what they’re doing, you may be right. Be sure you’re using a facility with engaged, informed staff that know how to actually take care of residents. And take note if they’re dismissive of your questions, too.
Also, watch for staff that looks particularly rushed or unhappy. Some communities understaff their facilities to cut costs. And that leads to lower quality of care and even neglect.
4. Too Many Areas Are Off Limits During Touring
You should be able to see all the areas of the facility (within reason) during your tour. Walkthrough actual lived-in residences if you can.
Check out the shared living spaces. Demand to see wings dedicated to memory care.
If you aren’t allowed to see the second story or have a look at a non-administrative area, it could be a sign they’re hiding something from you.
And if that’s the case, they may not offer the same level of care as they’re presenting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are just a few of the most frequently asked questions about finding quality senior living near you.
What Do You Look for In a Senior Community?
There are plenty of senior living communities out there. But not all offer equal quality living and safe accommodations.
To find the best senior living community for you, be sure to look for facilities with the following qualities.
- Skilled and dedicated care staff
- Beautiful campus and lively community
- Plenty of amenities like spas, gyms, and media rooms
- Consolidated monthly payments (e.g., maintenance, electricity, trash all in one)
- Lots of social events to keep residents socially engaged
- Meal plans included in your monthly payments
- Regular housekeeping, upkeep, and laundry services
- Transportation services
- Health and wellness services
- 24-hour emergency and security services
How Do I Find the Right Senior Living?
Finding the right senior living community for you can be tough. But with a bit of research and hard work, you can narrow down your choices by following these seven steps.
- Determine the right level of care needed
- Figure out the financials
- Land on a general location you’d like to live in
- Create a list of community qualities you’re looking for
- Start taking tours
- Ask the right questions
- Decide on the best option for you
Should I Move to a Retirement Community?
In the end, you and only you are in the best position to know whether you should move to a retirement community. While you may be tempted to stay in your home during your golden years (called “aging in place”), many seniors are opting for all the benefits of a senior living community.
Ultimately, you’ll want to be on the lookout for certain signs that a senior living community may be the best choice for you.
- You have trouble with or are tired of managing your finances
- You aren’t maintaining friendships or meeting new people
- You struggle with completing daily tasks on your own
- You rarely or no longer cook for yourself
- You have stopped engaging in old hobbies or exploring new interests
- You are not as physically active as you’d like to be
Making the move to a retirement community can help simplify your day-to-day and give you the care and connection you need to thrive.
What Is the Difference Between Senior Living & Assisted Living?
The biggest difference between senior living and assisted living is the level of care residents receive.
In assisted living facilities, residents have access to trained staff 24/7. These staff members can help with shopping and meal preparation, cleaning, medications, bathing, and more in case they need it.
Independent senior living communities, on the other hand, don’t offer that same level of care. Staff is available in case of emergencies. But when it comes to basic chores or medical/nursing support, residents are usually on their own.
Where Is the Best Senior Living Community Near Me?
Finding the right senior living community for you can be tough, especially when you don’t know what to look for. This guide should help you narrow down which communities offer quality senior living and which you should avoid.
If you’re searching in the greater St. Louis area, look no further than The Harbor at Cape Albeon.
The Harbor independent senior living combines freedom, community, and support—all in one lovely campus.
We pride ourselves on offering a beautiful community, graceful dining options, gorgeous living spaces, and plenty of social and physical activities to keep you busy.
We also offer:
- Delicious daily meals
- Bi-monthly housekeeping
- A 24-hour emergency response system
- Indoor pool and whirlpool
- Chapel for worship services
- And much more
Want to get a closer look at what life is like at Cape Albeon’s The Harbor? Just click below to schedule your tour today!
For the very best in an independent senior living community in and around St. Louis, look to The Harbor by Cape Albeon.