How To Choose A Senior Community

How to Choose the Right Senior Care Facility for You

Searching for a senior care facility requires a lot of time and dedication. You want to make the best choice for yourself or a loved one, but it’s hard to know where to start. This guide will walk you through the process of finding a long-term care community.

Here are six steps to follow when choosing a senior living community:

  1. Evaluate your needs (speak to one of our Directors of Sales to learn about care levels).
  2. Compare options in your desired geographic area.
  3. Understand the levels of care provided at each community.
  4. Check the facility’s licensing and record of conduct.
  5. Get pricing information and decide if it fits with your budget.
  6. Visit the facility in person to evaluate.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Needs

First, you need to determine what type of care is needed. Once you know this, you’ll be able to choose the right type of facility. 

A good place to start is to look at how well you or your loved one can perform the activities of daily living (ADLs). These are activities that are necessary for normal functioning. They are divided into two categories: basic and instrumental.

Basic ADLs:

  • Walking and moving from one place to another
  • Feeding yourself 
  • Dressing
  • Personal hygiene
  • Continence (controlling bowels and bladder)
  • Toileting
  • Showering

Instrumental ADLs:

  • Transportation
  • Shopping
  • Meal prep and cooking
  • Managing finances
  • Home maintenance and cleaning
  • Communication (including by phone and mail)
  • Managing medications

If you struggle with one or more of these ADLs, an assisted living or personal care facility might be the right fit.

It’s also important to look at your medical needs. If you have a chronic, severe condition that requires a lot of medical monitoring on a daily basis, a skilled nursing facility (nursing home) might be a better option. For those with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it’s best to find a senior care facility with a dedicated memory care program and a secure memory unit.

There are also many seniors who can take care of themselves but are struggling to maintain their home. And others wish to live with their peers to avoid loneliness. Independent living facilities allow you to keep your independence while having the peace of mind that comes from living in a community.

Learn more about the different types of senior care.

Step 2: Compare Options in Your Desired Geographic Area

Once you know what type of care is needed, it’s time to start searching for options in your preferred geographic area. It’s important to consider where you or your loved one want to live long-term. If you’re far away from family, do you wish to move closer? What kind of climate would you prefer? 

Once you’ve decided on a location, you can start to compare different options in that area.

Step 3: Understand the Levels of Care Provided at the Facility

Once you have a list of facilities to compare, visit each community’s website or contact them to learn more about their offerings and services. Consider both present and future needs. 

If you move into an independent living facility but eventually require assisted living, will you have to move to another facility? Or does the community offer multiple service packages? A facility that offers different levels of care may allow you to stay in one place as you age.

Step 4: Check the Facility’s Licensing and Record of Conduct

Verify that each facility on your list is properly licensed with the state. Depending on your state and the type of facility, licensing may be through different government departments. For example, in Pennsylvania, nursing homes and home health care agencies are licensed through the Department of Health, while assisted living facilities are licensed through the Department of Human Services. 

You can often verify licensing online. A good place to start is to visit your state’s Department of Health website and search for the type of facility you’re considering. Most websites have a search bar. If you type in something like “nursing home licensing,” you will be able to find the right page on the website. Alternatively, you can contact the Department of Health for assistance.

It’s also important to find out about any citations a facility has received over the years. Again, this information can be found online or by contacting the proper state department. Pay attention to the type and amount of violations and how they were handled by the facility.

If you’re searching for a nursing home, the directory is a good place to start. This directory lists nursing homes throughout the United States that are Medicare or Medicaid certified. Each facility receives ratings in several areas, including health inspections and quality of care.

You might also consider finding a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) or Citizen Advocacy Group (CAG) using The National Consumer Voice website. These programs advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. They can help you find a facility and make sure that you or a loved one is receiving quality care.

Step 5: Get Pricing Information and Decide if It Fits with Your Budget

When you have a list of facilities that you’re seriously considering, it’s time to get pricing information. Decide which facilities fit with your budget and narrow down your list. 

There are many different ways to finance senior living, including long-term care insurance or Medicaid for skilled nursing. You can consult with an eldercare attorney to determine the best financing options.

How Much Does Senior Living Cost?

Expect to pay a few thousand dollars to over $12,000 monthly for a senior care community. Senior living costs vary greatly depending on geographic location, apartment sizes, amenities, and level of care provided. Some facilities offer custom service packages so that you only pay for the care you need. 

In general, nursing homes are some of the most expensive options since they provide skilled nursing care. An assisted living facility or personal care home is often a more affordable alternative for seniors who don’t have extensive daily medical needs.

Keep in mind, the monthly cost often includes all meals, transportation, activities and all utilities associated with your room or apartment.

Step 6: Visit the Facility In Person to Evaluate

Once you have your list of senior living facilities narrowed down, it’s important to visit each one in person. This is the best way to evaluate if it’s a good fit. Be sure to bring along family members to help; they may notice things you missed. Here are some things to look for while touring a senior care facility.

Checklist for Touring Senior Care Facilities


  • Does the facility look and smell clean?
  • Is the environment homelike and comfortable?
  • What do the rooms look like? Consider the size and layout.
  • Are pets allowed in the community?
  • Are there walking paths or other outdoor areas to enjoy?

Amenities and Services

  • What amenities are included in the monthly payment?
  • What services are available onsite?
  • Does the facility offer senior transportation?
  • Are nutritious and appealing meals provided?
  • What activities are offered? 
  • Are there religious or spiritual services available?

Safety and Quality of Care

  • What safety measures are in place? 
  • Do residents have emergency call pendants?
  • What is the protocol for preventing the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19?
  • If the facility offers memory care, are residents with dementia in a secure setting?
  • What kind of training and certifications do the staff have? 
  • Are there any medical professionals on-staff?
  • Are the staff friendly and attentive?
  • Are residents well-cared for? 
  • Are residents happy and engaged? 
  • Talk to some of the residents and see if they enjoy living there.

Choose a Community That Feels Like Home

At the end of the day, the most important factor in choosing a senior living community is finding somewhere that feels like home. You want a community that is equipped to help you age in place so that you don’t have to keep moving as your needs change. 

At Providence Place Senior Living, our aging-in-place model ensures that you or your loved one can stay in the same apartment for many years and receive more care as needed. Our facilities offer several different levels of care:

We have locations throughout Pennsylvania, including Chambersburg, York, Lancaster, Collegeville, Hazleton, Pine Grove, and Pottsville. To request more information or schedule a tour at one of our communities, please click below.

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