8 Crucial Mistakes to Avoid During Your Search for a Senior Community

April 11, 2015

This article originally appeared on Angie’s List.

So you’re shopping for a senior living community. Hats off to you for beginning your research! Maybe you’ve narrowed down which communities you want to consider and read up on questions to ask, but there may be some things that aren’t on your radar. Here are eight common mistakes to avoid as you continue your search:

  1. Not touring. Don’t for a minute think that you can talk on the phone or look at the website and make an informed decision on the right community for you. You must set foot in communities to get a gut instinct and true feel.
  2. Touring without writing down your questions. Write down your own important questions and be prepared to ask. No doubt your tour guide will be prepared with a spiel that will answer all the basic Q&A’s, but you won’t know if they offer lactose free options in the restaurant or an area for your dog to run around unless you ask.
  3. Looking at only one living area. Sure, you may be ready now for an independent senior apartment, but you may eventually need assisted living. Or maybe you have your heart set on the stand-alone duplexes, but all that’s available when your house sells is an apartment in the main tower. Look at it all now, while you are at liberty to make your choice based on the big picture.
  4. Being blinded by pretty, shiny, and new. While there’s a lot to be said about a community who puts effort into a visually appealing environment, don’t let that be all you see. Even the most beautiful, brand new facility can be lacking in their care or other areas. Be thorough and look for attractiveness as well as a great foundation to support that beauty.

  5. Interacting with a single staff member. There will likely be one point person throughout your touring and researching process. While you should stick to that one person with questions and communications, try to at least be introduced to additional staff members throughout the process. At the very least, observe faces and attitudes of other team members, from the receptionist who greets you or transfers your call to the caregiver you pass in the hall. Do they have smiles on their faces? Do they seem upbeat? These are faces you’ll see every day if you choose to live at this community. Pay attention to those that will contribute to your potential living environment.
  6. Breezing through cost inclusions and exclusions. If one place seems wildly expensive in comparison to the rest, it may be because it includes a fitness membership, phone service, cable TV, heat and AC, water and sewer, housekeeping and concierge services, and top-of-the line common areas. When it boils down, it may actually cost you less than the other place where you’d be paying for these things separately. List out each of your monthly expenses and run a comparison.
  7. Planning financially for the short term. What happens when your funds run low? Will you be asked to move? Will the community help you find a new place to live? Will they support you in applying for financial assistance? These are things you want to know now, not when you’re ten years in and ten years older.
  8. Waiting around to join a waiting list. The best communities have a waiting list. Get on it as soon as you decide it’s one you’d consider living at. Better to be on too many waiting lists than not enough and feeling stuck when you’re ready to move. Ask about any deposits required and their refund policy if you change your mind.

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