How-To Select a Retirement Community for your Aging Parents

If you have a loved one who is approaching an age when he or she could enter a retirement community, then you may be thinking about what you need to consider when selecting a new home for your loved one. There are many factors that you need to consider when selecting a retirement community for your loved one. Follow this handy guide to learn more about the factors you should consider before deciding on a retirement community. One of the best things you can do is visit a list of potential homes and see how they feel to you and the loved ones who may call a retirement community home.

Set a Budget

Decide what you can afford. Check with your parents’ insurance plan. Some Medicaid plans and long-term health insurance plans offer help with retirement community costs. Sometimes you won’t be able to find out the monthly rent at a retirement community until you tour, so make a list of the top five communities in your area and then tour each one. During the tour, you’ll be able to get specifics on the financials.

Ask Questions

When you tour the communities, ask lots of questions. Here are a few important ones:

  1. What kind of food is served?
  2. Is the staff licensed? How many registered nurses? Where do the home health nurses get their training? Have there been any grievances filed against any staff in the past year?  Have any employees been let go because of poor care of the residents?
  3. What kind of medical care is provided at the community? What about emergency care?
  4. What kinds of activities are available for residents? Does the community offer bus trips to the grocery store or to the mall? Is there are an exercise class?
  5. What are the hidden fees and penalties, if any?
  6. What recreation activities are nearby?  Is there transportation?
  7. What is the average age of the residents?  Does this fit in with the type of community you would like to be a part of?
  8. What types of housing options are available?  Apartments, Cottages, or rooms in facility?
  9. How easy is it to move into different housing if needs change?
  10. What home care services are available and at what cost?

Stay for Lunch

The only way for you to determine how you really feel about a community is to really experience it. Stay for lunch. Taste the food. Go to an arts and crafts hour or attend an exercise class. Walk around the community. Talk to other residents. Sit in a room and see if you can envision yourself in the room. Talk to and observe the nurses. Are they attentive and caring to the residents? Do you hear any yelling or see any neglect. Finally, visit more than once. Drop in a few times to see how things are going at different times and on different days of the week.


Deciding on the right retirement community is no small task. It requires a great deal of research. In the end, you are going to select the retirement community that feels right to you and your loved one that is also within your budget. There are some very important questions you need to remember to ask as you are touring retirement communities. Take this handy guide with you as you begin your search, and ask questions. The staff at the retirement communities that you tour should be able to answer all of these questions. Also, don’t be afraid to ask current residents how they like the community. You can get real answers from people who are not being paid to market the facility. With a little hard work and a little patience, you will arrive at the best possible choice within the retirement community options that you have in your city. Take your time and think about the potential community carefully before making a final decision. Ultimately, recognize that your loved one may not be settled on a community (and many elderly people do not want to leave their homes), but you are looking for a safe, clean, and caring community for your loved one to thrive in the future. Every new home takes a little time to get used to.

Tom Conford wrote this article on behalf of The Hamptons, a luxury retirement community in Tyler, Texas.  Tom is a freelance writer based in Arizona and is recently caring for an elderly parent.

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