The Definitive Guide to Searching for Retirement Living Online
If you or the older adult in your life think that it’s time to make the leap into a new community of like-minded folks, you have to face one daunting task before you can make your decision: Doing the online research. It’s easy to feel snowed under by the avalanche of information that comes from a simple Internet search, but have no fear because with this definitive guide to searching for retirement living online, you will find the best resources, sites and services to help you in your quest to find your ideal community.
Just relax, read on and know that you can do this.
Get a Referral
A simple internet search for “retirement living” yields so many results that it can be overwhelming to sort through all of it. That’s what makes referral services a great starting point for your search.
A referral service takes key deciding factors such as location, cost, current and future care requirements and amenities and gives you a personalized list of the best options for you. Referral services can also offer you information that might not be as readily available on individual community websites, like pricing, occupancy rates and resident-to-staff ratios.
Referral services: A Place for Mom, Caring.com, Our Parents, After 55, Senior Living
Review the Reviews
Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few communities that might be a good fit, it’s time to take a closer look at each one. Of course, it’s a great idea to check out their individual websites, but reviews give a perspective that can’t be found on any company web page.
You should use reviews as a resource for the conversations that you have with the staff during your community tours. They can help you identify key concerns regarding the quality of life in the community. Pay attention to issues such as staff responsiveness to requests for help and quality, quantity and variety of food choices.
It’s important to keep reviews in context as you’re reading them. Remember that they were written by people with strong opinions — both positive and negative — so they may not necessarily reflect the typical experience of a neighbor in that community.
Review sites: Senior Advisor is a highly-recommended free site that has a large number of reviews and verifies its reviewers. Angie’s List is a paid site with a free membership option to view highly-verified reviews, however, it is not an exhaustive list of reviewed communities. Yelp offers plenty of in-depth reviews, but these are mostly unverified; it’s best used as a secondary source of information.
State the Facts
It’s also a good idea to check the state records on the communities that you are considering.
Each state’s method for accessing this information is different. Some states have a trove of information, others don’t publish any online at all. If available, these records are usually based on inspections, enforcements and complaints. That means that the information that you find is going to skew towards the negative.
State records are most useful once you’ve chosen your future community and want to ensure that it has no major violations.
State records: Check out this chart from Paying for Senior Care for links to your state’s records, if available.
Hire a Professional
If you find all of this information too overwhelming, you may want to consider hiring a professional advocate to help you navigate your journey into a new community.
Certified Aging Life Care Professionals are experts on the costs, quality and availability of resources in their local communities. Many of them are licensed in relevant fields such as nursing or social work. If you choose to go this route, think of your Aging Life Care Professional as the “coach” of your team — their primary mission is to guide you to the best possible outcome.
Find a professional: The Aging Life Care Association’s “Find an Expert” search tool can connect you with certified Aging Life Care Professionals in your area.
The internet can be an excellent search tool, whether you are looking into senior living communities for yourself or helping the older adult in your life explore different living options.
Instead of typing “senior living” into the search bar, consider starting a referral service to narrow down your options. From there, you can read the reviews and check the state records before planning tours of the communities on your shortlist.
And don’t forget, it’s okay if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the process. It’s an enormous amount of information to sift through, not to mention a big life change for you or the older adult in your life. If that’s the case, you may want to consider working with a Certified Aging Life Care Professional who can help make sense of the options available in your area.
Starting your search for a community where you can live your best life? Get in touch and find out how our dedicated and helpful Holiday staff can help you throughout the search process and beyond.