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

If you are beginning your search for a senior living or independent living community, hats off to you for starting your research! 

The choice to choose a senior living facility can seem like a daunting one. Whether you are the one looking for your new home or you are the adult child of a senior citizen that wants to make the most informed choice for your mom or dad – it’s a big deal!

If you need assistance in narrowing down which communities to consider or need guidance on questions to ask the staff, consider these five common mistakes to avoid as you embark on your search:

Mistake #1: Not Touring
Don’t for a minute think that you can talk on the phone or look at the website and make a completely informed decision on the right community for you. You must set foot in communities to get a gut instinct and true feel.

While on a tour, note the cleanliness of the facilities. Especially with COVID-19 being of particular concern for older adults, sanitation within the facilities should be obvious. The rooms and common areas should look and smell clean, and the housekeeping staff should have a presence in the building. The touring staff should also make it apparent to you up front how and when the facilities are cleaned, when laundry is done, or how surfaces are wiped down.

Also watch for maintenance issues and overall upkeep, even on things like furniture and flooring. A spic and span facility means the staff takes pride in their place of work and works to keep the residents comfortable.

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. Take note of the general activity level of the residents and responsiveness of staff. If the people you pass by seem happy, friendly, and willing to talk, it is likely a safe, secure, and vibrant place. The mood should never be somber, and if you feel uncomfortable moving through the building, it is likely any resident may get the same vibe. A tour should be a real-time representation of life in the community.

Three Pillars offers in-person and virtual tours. Call us at (800) 848-5306 or fill out our contact form to inquire – we’d love to show you around.

Compass Point lobby, Three Pillars

Mistake #2: Looking at Only One Living Area or Level of Care
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.

The staff in each area of the community should have cohesive values, each as attentive as the last. Be sure to ask the policies and procedures for switching residences, and the nuances of each housing unit or area. After all, the entire community will be your home.

Ask for feedback from staff about their favorite parts of their job, and what features of each area help make daily tasks for residents even easier.

Three Pillars has five distinct communities to choose from, and more on the way at the time of this writing! A variety of Wellness Programs also compliment daily life here.

Mistake #3: Skimping on Questions
Write down your own important questions and be prepared to ask before, during, and after you tour. Never feel burdensome by asking too much.

There’s no doubt your tour guide will be prepared with a spiel that will answer all the basic Q&A’s, but especially for the specifics, you won’t know until you ask! If it’s important to you that lactose-free options exist in the restaurant or there’s an area for your dog to run around, you must ask.

If you’re a night owl, you should know procedures for safety of the building at nighttime. If you feel strongly about having visitors, you should know about the community’s visitor procedures.

If you are seriously considering this community as your new home, you are absolutely entitled to find out all of the ins and outs and you should feel satisfied in the detail of the answers given. A fantastic senior living community will work to make sure you feel at ease and that the place is the right fit for your lifestyle.

Visit the Life at Three Pillars page on our website for a peek into our community, and peruse our other blog articles, which cover many specific benefits for our residents.

Mistake #4: Not Considering Cost
If one place seems wildly expensive in comparison to the rest, remember that different communities include different things in their costs. One community may state their monthly rental cost as one number and many extras separately, while another may include a fitness membership, phone service, cable TV, heat and AC, water and sewer, and housekeeping services all in one number. 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 current and proposed monthly expenses and run a comparison. Don’t be afraid to ask for itemized pricing.

workout equipment at Three Pillars

Of course, other factors such as the location, the size, non-profit versus for-profit, and the age and condition of the community may also come into play. If one is brand new with state-of the art amenities and top-of-the line common areas versus one that is 40 years old, you will understandably see a price difference.

When financially planning for your move, plan for the long-term. What happens if 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. Being able to comfortably afford your living situation is a win-win for you and the staff, and you need to be clear on the protocol for if you run out of financial resources in the future.

At Three Pillars, we always invite prospective residents and their families to contact us and ask all the questions up front, including those regarding finances.

Mistake #5: Waiting Around to Join the Waiting List
The best communities often have a waiting list. Get on it as soon as you decide it’s one you’d consider living at. It’s far better to be on one or more waiting lists than none and feeling stuck when you’re ready to move. Ask about any deposits required and their refund policy if you change your mind. Ask if you may call about updates, and what their response time typically is, especially during high-volume transition times. If your name comes up on the list but you’re not quite ready to move at that time, ask if you keep your spot on the list for next time.          

As you embark on or continue your search for the best senior living community for you, we invite you to join the Three Pillars email list to hear more from us about upcoming events, openings, and highlights of our communities. Have a question or want to bounce something off us as a resource? We’re always happy to do that too – just reach out or leave us a comment below.