Selecting a Senior Community and Optimizing Your Search Using Online Tools.
Everybody ages and as we do, our housing needs and ability to live independently and care for a home and pets may change as well. There are a multitude of beautiful 55 and over communities available with amazing amenities to choose from so keep a positive attitude and consider how nice it might be to shed the burden of household chores and home maintenance. Having somebody provide your meals and keep your home while you tend to your self-care, socialize, and spend time on hobbies sounds like a great way to spend the golden years!
Selecting a senior community is a big endeavor and one you should approach in advance if possible so that you have time to consider options before you need to make a move. Start by discussing where you would like to live with a relative, friend or family advisor that will be guiding you and acting as a sounding board. It is important to ensure you are speaking with somebody who can assist you in weighing the options and maybe has experience in the area.
Discuss location choice with your advisor and make a list of things important to you about a location, such as weather, proximity to relatives and friends, access to cultural and social activities and affordability. Think about what your needs are now and how they might change down the road when looking at location. Things like the ability to drive can change and you want to ensure your community meets your needs into the future. The quality and accessibility of medical care and your personal doctors may impact your choices as well depending on your health situation. Make a list of the amenities, services and things that are must haves and nice to haves in a senior community. Use this list to screen out communities that will not work for you.
Assess each location and how well each meets your criteria list by assigning a number from 1-5 as to each criterion from your list. Tally up the numbers and give each area a numerical ranking based on how well it meets your criteria. Now you can go over this information with your advisor or family members and narrow the list down to three locations. List and discuss the pros and cons of each with your advisor before you settle on a final location. Once you have decided on a geographical location, access the internet, and find a senior search site such as www.seniorsplaces.com to obtain a list of communities in your desired location.
Review your budget with your advisor and come up with a price point that is comfortable and sustainable for your financial situation. Keep in mind that your medical needs may change and be sure to budget to cover that possibility.
Create a list of potential matches in your chosen location that fit your budget and meet your must have criteria using the same ranking system as above. If multiple communities meet your needs narrow it down to your top choices or schedule a tour with each community. Remember that if you love a community but it seems a little out of your price range you can ask the community for a discount and discuss financial details with the community to express your concerns and see if there is room to negotiate.
Have a list of questions prepared and keep a notebook or laptop where you can keep track of the answers and important details regarding each community. Consider things outside of your criteria list as well that you might pick up on an in-person tour. Things like friendliness of the staff, first impression of the community, cleanliness, friendliness of residents you meet, green space and landscaping, freshness of paint and furnishings, smells and sounds, parking and security when entering the building. Spend some time at the community, enjoy a meal and even spend the night if possible. Talk to residents and read on-line reviews to get the most comprehensive picture of life in your new community.
Once you have completed this thorough search and evaluation of all your options, schedule a final meeting with your advisor and share your thoughts and feelings regarding the possibilities. Get your advisor’s input and consider any concerns they have as well as your own before you choose. If there are any new questions or lingering concerns, reach out to the community again to be sure all your questions and concerns are addressed before making a final decision as to where your new home will be! Most important of all, ensure that this community is somewhere that you can stay into the future should your needs change unless you are prepared to move again. This is a big decision and one you should not take lightly. Having a solid process and spending adequate time considering all the options will pay off in the long run.