As families begin to consider senior living, most go online first to research and find options. But, as you may have already found, the information is vast and the options are numerous. For example, a search for “senior living communities” alone on Google yields 10,500,000 results. Yikes! It can easily become overwhelming and frustrating. Luckily our tips on researching senior living online can make it much easier to find the answers and the options you need.
Before You Head Online
- Assess Your Needs – It certainly helps to be as specific as possible when researching senior living online. So, before you ever open a browser, assess where things stand now with your loved one such as health issues, cognitive or mobility challenges, areas in which support might be needed (daily tasks, household chores, maintaining the yard), safety issues in the home, challenges with proper nutrition, managing medication and/or your loved one’s social and emotional well-being. This can help you identify what type of senior living is needed.
- Understand the Types of Senior Living – Yes, there’s more than one type of senior living! Many families don’t realize this. But rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, families benefit from a more personalized experience that supports different wants and care needs. Check out our recent blog “Senior Living Options: Understanding the Differences Between Assisted Living and Memory Care” for a detailed explanation of the different types of senior living and compare those to the needs which you have identified above.
- Think About Wants – For your loved one to thrive in senior living, not only must the community meet their needs, it should also offer the lifestyle, amenities and services they want. So, it’s important to make a list of both nonnegotiable and nice-to-have options. This could be anything from a specific location, to multiple dining venues, to concierge services, to a pet friendly community, to ample outdoor space. Keep in mind that typically, meals, housekeeping, maintenance, group transportation and activities will already be included in the monthly fee.
Researching Senior Living Online
- Starting Your Search Online – Now that you’re ready to search we recommend you look within the level of care (independent living, assisted living or memory care) that fits your needs best and your preferred location. For example, “assisted living in northern Illinois.” Then head to each community’s website for more information.
- Get an Inside Look Online – Go as in-depth as possible on the website of each community in which you are considering. By this we mean check out their videos, image galleries, activity calendars, interactive floor plans and even schedule a virtual tour to really get an inside look at the community. Also, see what other resources they have available such as financial calculators, self-guided assessments, how-to guides, and even blogs like these can be helpful as you navigate the decision-making process.
- Don’t Forget Social – Most senior living communities are active on social media and it’s a great way to get a true sense of the personality of the community, as well as daily life for the residents there on an ongoing basis. Check out (and follow) the social media sites of the communities in which you are interested; you should be able to easily find them through their website.
- Use All Online Resources – Signing up for the community’s newsletter can also provide valuable insight, such as upcoming events which you could attend or even move-in specials they may be offering. Beyond senior living community websites, don’t forget to check for online reviews to gauge the reputation of these communities as well!
BONUS TIPS for Researching Senior Living
The value of firsthand experience with a senior living community simply cannot be matched, so check with friends, neighbors, coworkers or those ‘in the industry’ such as your loved one’s doctor, a professional case manager, geriatric psychologist, estate attorney/planner or even your spiritual leader to get their insight and recommendations. If it’s possible to speak with residents and/or their families, jump on that opportunity!
Lastly, senior living communities are beginning to offer in-person tours again by appointment and we highly recommend scheduling a tour with the top 2-3 communities on your list before making a final decision. For more information, download our Choosing the Right Community guide. Or, schedule a virtual tour today by calling (224) 333-6247 to speak to a team member.