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How do you choose the correct senior living community?

Whether you are considering a future move to a life plan community or perhaps a relative or loved one is in need of care right away, it’s important to lay out a plan to choose the best senior living community for your wants, needs and budget.

Here are some first steps:

  • Determine the community – There are many options available – from independent and assisted living on to long-term nursing communities and 24-hour skilled care. The choice depends on whether the person needs minimal help with medications and meals, or suffers from diseases like Alzheimer’s and other illnesses that require more critical care. Be sure to check out the chart below that can provide some insight on the different types of communities.
  • Contemplate the right fit – When you look at the broad picture, consider which communities are licensed by the state. Perhaps you or your loved one will thrive in a small, more homelike setting or would prefer a larger senior living community. Money is also a factor, whether you can afford private pay or require financial assistance.
  • Study the reputation – Once there are locations to consider, research websites and social media platforms. Consider the community’s testimonials and client reviews, and ask friends who’ve been in similar situations for referrals.

Tip: Look for the ways a community shows compassion to residents, supports their needs, and keeps them engaged in activities for a well-rounded senior living experience.

Once a list of needs and wants is completed, continue your preparation with the following:

  • Develop a list of questions – These could involve the cleanliness of the community, the floor plan’s ease of use, safety measures (door locks, lighting, handrails), meal plans, social activities and more. Be sure to ask how the residence stands out from similar communities in your chosen location.
  • Schedule a tour – In-person visits are available at some communities, though some are continuing with virtual tours during the pandemic. Contact the places you’re considering for the latest guidelines.

Bottom line, trust your instincts. If the community feels like the place you or a loved one would consider their new home, then you’re well on your way. Please contact us if you have additional questions or want more information about making the best choices for senior living. We’d love to help and our team is fantastic at supporting people as they go about making this difficult decision – whether the final choice is Castle Senior Living or not.

The Four Primary Senior Residence Options

Community Based
Residential Facility
Adult Family Home AFH
(3-4 bed)
Residential Care
Complex RCAC
Nursing Home
Residence Type Serves a variety of needs, and may include dementia and other conditions of aging Serves a variety of needs, and may include dementia and other conditions of aging Independent living. Does NOT serve incompetent, Alzheimer’s, or dementia populations Most require 24-hour care due to physical or mental conditions
Number of
From 5-257 beds, usually 20+ Up to 4, usually a residential-style home Independent living complex; at least 5 apartments 5 or more
RN on staff Not required Not required Not required Yes
Hours of nursing care Up to 3 hrs/wk Up to 7 hrs/wk N/A 24 hours
General level of care Provides room and board and assistance. Most often admit and provide services to:

  • People of advanced age
  • Dementia
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Mental health
  • Physical disabilities
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Terminally ill/Hospice
Care, treatment or services are above the level of room and board; should not require care above intermediate level of nursing care Provide up to 28 hours of care/week:

  • Supportive services
  • Personal assistance
  • Health services
  • Emergency assistance

Services must be part of tenant’s service agreement

Complete care, room and board
24-hour caregivers Yes Caregivers may live on-site Emergency Assistance if needed Yes
Minimum Age
18 years 18 years Adult Adult