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Two future senior living residents about to go on a tour.

Top 5 things you must do BEFORE going on a Tour of a Retirement/Senior Living Community

The decision to transition into a Senior Living Community is a major one, but it is only the first step. Next comes what many families experience as a much more daunting process — sifting through the options to find the right community for their loved ones. 

After all, with increasing life expectancy, today’s seniors may call this community home for a decade, possibly much longer. These years are no longer a time of inevitable decline but can and often do represent a new phase of a bright and vibrant life. This also means making the right choice is even more important, with many vital years ahead, it had never been more important to make the right choice the first time, minimizing traumatic disruptions, which can be especially detrimental with age or with memory-related concerns like Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. 

Although the transition from living on ones own into a Senior Living community is not without challenges, choosing a community that feels like home is paramount to creating the energy of hope and possibility. The confidence of knowing that the community is a safe and secure place, has the ability to provide the highest level of care and offers a multitude of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual enrichment activities, will allow everyone to embrace this new phase with excitement instead of trepidation. 

Visiting websites and reading marketing material is a good first start, but nothing can compete with visiting the communities you are considering, experiencing an extended tour, and interacting with staff and fellow residents. 

Imagine the process of choosing the right college for yourself or your graduating teenager - just as all colleges are not created equal or a correct fit for every student, there are many variations in senior living communities that can determine the correct fit. It is important to ask the right questions so that solid decisions can be made right from the start. 

Read on for our top tips for before your tour, as well as x questions to ask during your tour.

Tips for before your tour:

  1. Agree on the most important factors
    What factors matter the most to you and your loved ones. Location? Amenities? Cost? Care levels? What are your must-haves and deal breakers? Deciding which factors matter most will help make the process of filtering through your options much easier.

  2. Do your research
    Decide on the best person in the family to handle the research and sift through the options. Have them do research via the website, request marketing materials and speak with a Senior Living counselor at the community, as many times as you need, to answer any initial questions.  

  3. Narrow your options down to your top choices
    Use the research above to narrow the options down to the top choices of Senior Communities that provide the best fit for your selected criteria. 

  4. Brainstorm your questions in advance
    Sit down with all involved parties and brainstorm your questions in advance to ensure that by the end of your tour you’ve collected all the information you need to make an educated decision. 

  5. Appoint a spokesperson & decide who is going
    Although everyone may wish they could attend, it may be best to limit the family members available on the tour. It can be helpful to appoint one spokesperson who will do the talking and make sure all questions are answered.  Additionally, if you are looking for a place for your loved one, it sometimes is better to attend the tours without them so that you can narrow your search to your top choice and avoid them feeling overwhelmed.

Remember, don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is one of the most important decisions of your life. A good community will welcome each and every one of your questions and go above and beyond to not only listen to your desires and concerns but to provide answers that more than satisfy each inquiry. It is vitally important to understand your needs and desires and communicate them thoroughly in order to choose the right location. 

Most importantly, trust your gut. Can you see you or your loved one living happily there?  If a community looks great on paper but doesn't feel like the right fit for you and your loved one, it’s probably not the right fit.  Don't’ compromise, the right community is out there!