A senior living community will only feel like home if the fit is right. From the type of community needed to cultural considerations (including opportunities for socializing, availability of events, faith-based support, and more), this guide will help guide you in finding that perfect fit.
Understanding Your Needs: Assisted vs. Independent Living
Assisted living is ideal for any older adult who needs extra help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). With this support, seniors gain the freedom to explore interests, participate in community activities, make new friends, and enjoy life to the fullest. Independent living is an ideal option for healthy and active seniors — it feels similar to living at home, but with more social interaction and support for enhanced independence. Some senior communities offer both assisted and independent living, with varying levels of care available for assisted living residents.
Having a comprehensive understanding of the senior’s needs will help narrow down the list of options. Then, you can determine whether a community will be a good fit based on the following cultural aspects.
Assessing Culture at a Senior Living Community
Once you’re certain that a community can offer the type of housing and level of care required, take a closer look at the culture. While touring different communities, pay attention to:
- The social environment. Are residents social? From enjoying meals to participating in events, many seniors appreciate opportunities to socialize with their peers.
- Events and activities. If events and outings are important, look at the monthly calendar. At The Argyle, we have an action-packed calendar that includes game nights, movies, and other activities at home. We also plan outings throughout Denver, including Bronco’s games, fall foliage bus tours, and other seasonal events.
- Care and attention from staff. Do staff express genuine care for residents? When staff are truly interested in residents and their lives, it shines through in the culture of a community.
- Dining options. Food is important, and not just for dietary reasons. Many senior living communities have vibrant community dining rooms with a social atmosphere, where residents can develop deep relationships as they share meals together. At The Argyle, we also check in with residents to ensure our menu includes selections they’ll enjoy.
- Historic neighborhood roots. A shared sense of history can enhance the level of connection you feel toward a senior community. Does the managing organization have a longstanding connection with the community, or are they a national chain? There’s no right or wrong answer, but many families prefer communities that are guided by shared values with a staff whose sole responsibility is to the residents and their place within the local community.
- The grounds and neighborhood. You should also assess areas beyond the community’s walls. Are the grounds maintained and is the neighborhood pleasant? Are there restaurants, parks, and other amenities nearby? Is transportation provided for errands and other needs?
- Devotional services. Every senior living community approaches faith differently. Some hold denomination-specific services at home, others offer non-denominational prayer groups, and some facilitate access to a range of devotional services. If faith is important, don’t neglect this piece of the culture puzzle.
- Wellness programs. Research conclusively shows that lifestyle choices impact aging. Wellness programs help seniors make healthy choices about diet, exercise, and more. Some communities offer fitness programs and classes, regular visits from specialists, and more.
- The accomodations. Of course, it’s important to love the room or apartment! Think about the amount of space, floor plan, natural light, and whether the space feels like a comfortable place to relax and unwind.
Additional Culture Considerations
The nine criteria above are key parts of culture, but is there anything else that’s important to you or your loved one? Before you visit a community, don’t forget to print this list off and add your own questions. Soon enough, you’ll find the perfect fit!