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What Do Seniors Want in a Retirement Community?

Senior women having a conversation

When Laurel Circle was founded, we thought hard about the question, “What do seniors want in a retirement community?” We landed on convenience and personal fulfillment. When you’re comparing your options and considering what to look for in a senior living community, paint this picture for yourself:

You wake up to another promising day at Laurel Circle senior living community. Your quaint one-bedroom apartment suits you perfectly; it’s decorated with your most treasured memorabilia, so each day you’re surrounded by photos of the beautiful children and grandchildren you worked hard to put through school and see through to success, along with keepsakes signifying your accomplishments throughout the years.

You have breakfast on the patio while your spouse catches up on the news in the den. You both attend a group fitness class you’ve got scheduled at 10 a.m. Family will come to visit in the afternoon, and you’ve got a Happy Hour to attend at 5 p.m., followed by dinner in the formal dining room. During the in-between hours, you’ve got all the time in the world to do whatever you please. The home maintenance is already taken care of, so no need to worry about that. Bills are paid. Everything is at your fingertips. You open your Touchtown app and choose from a plethora of activities – a class to improve balance, a cooking demo in the bistro, duplicate bridge with your fellow residents. You pick up that book you’ve been reading, or maybe continue to learn a new language.

You’ve earned it. A lifetime of working hard has led to an easeful and fulfilling retirement, and your community provides all the senior living benefits you need to maximize your retirement’s potential.

With so many senior living options available, Laurel Circle knows the importance of providing an environment that’s as personally enriching as it is guaranteed to provide all your health care needs and services. You might be wondering what questions to ask when looking for a retirement community. We encourage you to start by considering your ideals.

What to Look For

As we age, a few things happen as we settle into our place in the world. Our sense of identity strengthens, and by the time we reach our senior years, we typically have a clear idea of the kind of lifestyle that’ll make us happy. It’s important to keep these ideals in mind as you consider what to look for in a senior living community. When you first tour your potential new home, a friendly, warm and welcoming feeling should greet you at the door. You should feel like you could fit in with the community easily. Have a meal there – how’s the food and the service? Take note of how the staff treats you …is it the personal, family-like feel you’re looking for, or the exceptional service you want? Pop into some of the ongoing classes and activities. Does this look like a place you want to be? Check out the common spaces – are they clean? Occupied? Do people seem happy to be there? Look at an apartment – can you picture your things in this space? Ask questions – “Can I customize my apartment? Will I still live here if my health needs increase?”

Asking the Right Questions

With terms like “independent living,” “assisted living,” “memory care” and “skilled nursing” being tossed around, it can be difficult to even know what questions to ask about continuing care retirement communities. Here are a  few questions to ask every senior living community you tour:

  • How does the meal plan work?
  • How’s the food? What’s the chef’s culinary experience like?
  • What contract options are offered?
  • Do you have an on-site fitness trainer? What are the different group fitness classes offered?
  • Are there plenty of healthy dining options easily available? Is there an on-site nutritionist?
  • What social activities do you have going on? Do you get a good turnout among the residents?
  • Where’s the closest grocery store, shopping center, hospital, pharmacy? Will I need to use those services, or will I have everything I need on campus?
  • Is my pet allowed?
  • Is there maid service? How often? Will all my maintenance needs be taken care of?

Getting Everything You Want in a Senior Living Community

As you’re comparing apples to apples, think about these key senior living benefits of retirement communities, and consider what’s most important to you:

The Feeling: Just Like Home or More Like a Luxury Resort?

Consider what kind of feeling you’re after in a retirement community. Do you want something upscale and high-society … the luxury living you desire? Or perhaps you prefer more of a neighborhood feel, friendly and casual. Setting and atmosphere are important factors to consider when choosing your community.

The Vibe: Social Connection

Senior living communities offer hundreds of clubs, fitness and educational classes, recreation, golf, swimming, yoga, Happy Hours, and spirituality opportunities. You’ll never be bored, because there are opportunities to make friends around every corner, and you can continue learning and growing as you age. Find out what activities and social opportunities the community you’re exploring offers, and make sure your hobbies and passions are represented there.

The Basics: Safety

One of the senior living benefits of being in a retirement community is that it was designed with your safety in mind. Apartments typically have  carpet for warmth and traction, so your home is better insulated and you’re less likely to fall. You may also have night lighting in your bathroom, so you can easily find your way in the middle of the night. Many communities have fast-response buttons in each residence so the resident can  alert the medical staff when they need assistance, and some even have pendants for the residents, particularly in assisted living, to wear. Memory care areas offer extra secure spaces and memory care-trained staff for residents who may get lost or wander off.

The Nuts & Bolts: Health Care

And last but certainly not least, most seniors want the peace of mind that a Life Plan Community provides, to know that they have a continuum of care available to them when they need it, where they need it. At Laurel Circle, we offer high-quality assisted living, short- and long-term skilled nursing, memory support providing Alzheimer’s/dementia care, and subacute and rehabilitative services.

About 5% of American older adults now live in senior living communities, which are becoming increasingly popular and customizable to your needs. With so many options to choose from, be sure to carefully consider what to look for in a senior living community and know the right questions to ask about continuing care retirement communities before making one of the biggest choices of your life.