Senior Living: How to Find the Right Fit Skip to content

Senior Living Options

Published: Dec 30, 2022. Last Updated: Jan 8, 2023.

Perhaps you are here because you are considering planning for you or your loved one's retirement. Well, you’re on the right track to investing your time and energy on looking into possible options for your next stage in life. What’s even comforting to know is that you’re not alone in this journey. According to the Population Reference Bureau’s “Aging in the United States Report”, [1]the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to reach an estimated number of 95 million seniors by the year 2060. This remarkable demographic shift in this age group adds to the weight of significance to plan ahead for you or your loved one’s future care.

Many older adults are curious, skeptical even, on the thought of senior living because of the major transition that comes along with it. As much as the decision-making process in choosing a senior living community is overwhelming, it’s also a crucial process that requires in-depth knowledge and patience.

What is Senior Living?

In its most fundamental sense, senior living refers to a range of housing options and types of care intended for the elderly. This is a general concept that encompasses several options that cover independent living, assisted living, memory care, respite care, and skilled nursing facility, among others.

In the past, nursing homes, which are prescriptive in nature, were the trend among the elderly. The focus is generally on providing assistance for the elderly as patients receiving care. However, the current state and future outlook of long-term care have shifted to elevate the standards of senior services. Modern senior living communities shifted their area of focus from providing prescriptive care to delivering a wholesome retirement experience that seniors can actually enjoy. Let’s have a quick look at some of the available senior living options today:

Senior Living Options

Independent Living

This type of senior living option offers its residents a safe and productive living environment while delivering minimal level of assistance. This is most ideal for those who are on the younger end of the age bracket as they can still manage individual daily activities with less supervision. Hence, the term “independent living”. Moreover, the lifestyle maintenance tasks like booking appointments, arranging for transportation services, doing laundry, home making, managing medications, preparing meals, and maintaining personal finances, are ministered by the staff to spare you from the hassle of these chores.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is for older adults who require assistance with most of their ADLs or Activities for Daily Living. This includes eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, mobility, and administering medications. The key point for assisted living is that independence is still highly encouraged, but support is always close by in case you need it. Similar to Independent Living, you also get to enjoy a lifestyle without worrying about your responsibilities at home, opportunities to socialize with people your age, and other activities.

Memory Care

Memory care is a specialized care unit specially designed for older adults struggling with health conditions affecting memory, such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia. According to Mayo Clinic, there are more psychological changes that dementia patients exhibit such as: agitation, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, inappropriate behavior, paranoia, and personality changes. When on or more of these signs start to surface, it’s an indication that it’s time for memory care. At a memory care facility, trained staff who specialize in managing the unique needs of residents with memory issues are there to help nurture the needs of a senior struggling with cognitive impairment.

Respite Care

Unlike other senior living communities and options, respite care offers a short-term care for the elderly for a few reasons: one is if their caregiver needs temporary relief or break, another is to set a transition period to long-term care. Respite care can be arranged for a day or for several weeks, depending on the need. On the duration of the senior’s residency, he/she will enjoy all the amenities, including all the activities in an assisted living community.

Nursing Homes

A nursing home normally provides the highest level of care among all other senior living options. This is ideal if your loved one need a higher level of medical attention such as therapy and 24/7 medical care because of a complicated health condition. What sets this facility apart from others is that it is staffed by medical professionals such as licensed nurses, physicians, and therapists to deliver the medical needs to the residents.

Home Health Care

Home health care is usually for seniors who need monitoring after hospital discharge, patients needing complex medical care, or patients with chronic diseases. In this type of senior living option, an intensive medical care is provided in the comfort of one’s own home. This is an ideal option for older adults needing professional medical support while living safely in their own home.


A continuing care retirement community is otherwise known as a life plan community, and it provides a full continuum of care for seniors that include independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing care. This allows seniors who are experiencing changes in their health needs to have access to a higher level of care without the need to relocate.

55+ Communities

The whole concept of 55+ communities is providing a vibrant lifestyle for senior as soon as they reach the age 55. Generally, this community is designed to provide seniors with plenty of social activities to look forward to in their retirement through participating in social clubs, volunteer groups, and events. At a 55+ community, you get to enjoy a maintenance-free living while getting the most of your golden years.

How to Choose Senior Living That Best Suit Your Needs

At this point, you may already have a clear picture on what you would like in a senior living community. Knowing what you want is a good start, but there are still a few key steps you need to consider before finally finding the right fit for your senior living. We have devised a step-by-step process that will help you navigate through the selection process:

Determine the level of care you need

You already know your options, and your next best move is to determine which option best accommodates your needs. Each senior living community is designed to harmonize with a specific level of needed care. It is important to understand the unique services offered by different senior living options asthiswillhelpyoudeterminetheonethatismostidealforyouandyouruniqueneedsandcondition. 

Say, you want to enjoy independence with daily activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, etc. but would like assistance with chores such as driving, doing the laundry, booking appointments, etc, the independent living will be an ideal choice. On the other hand, if you need a higher level of care and assistance with your ADLs such as requiring help with showering, changing your clothes and protective undergarments to manage continence, eating your meals, taking your medications, going to the toilet, you may need to consider an assisted living facility.

Memory care offer unique services that are dedicated to provide a safe environment for people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Lastly, if you or your loved one is recuperating from a serious medical condition, or is diagnosed with a complicated disease, you are more likely to benefit from the round-the-clock professional medical assistance provided in a skilled nursing care facility.

Align the Cost and your Budget

Now, take the cost into the whole picture. The first question that you should answer when weighing your options is can you afford it? The average cost for senior living varies by location and by the type of amenities and services it offers. You should come prepared for expenses that include housing rent, food, medication, transportation, electricity, and other typical utilities.

The median cost of senior independent living in the United States is at $2,552, as stated in the 2018 cost index of A Place for Mom, while the cost for assisted living is somewhere at $1,400 higher. However, the price point is not the same for all facilities as there are several factors that affect the cost such as amenities, geographical location, apartment size, and many others.

When you are in the process of finding the right price point that suits your finances, you have to ask what the base monthly price includes so you can accurately compare the options at hand. Take your time in calculating the monthly costs to see if what you’re paying for is worth what you’re getting and to determine if you can sustain paying for it in the long-term.

Identify your Preferences for Services and Amenities

One key tip is to look for a senior living community that offers an array of services and amenities that make life more convenient for you so you can shift your focus on your heath and well-being. We have different preferences and priorities when it comes to ways we enjoy life.

If the idea of being freed from all the fuss of daily chores pushed you to pursue living in a senior living facility, you might want to look into a retirement community that offers outstanding household services. If, on the other hand, you lead a more active lifestyle and enjoy leisure time such as going on trips, attending yoga classes, participating in arts and crafts, or gardening, you should ask if these activities are readily available as you scout for the right senior living community.

The thing is, you hold the decision to the things that you wish to prioritize, so you should be wise in choosing the right facility considering that you will be spending a significant amount of time in it.

Narrow the List

With so many factors to consider, it might be challenging to narrow down the list of potential senior living communities that you have in mind. You have to know what you need, what you can afford, which location is most strategic for you and your family, what services are you most interested in, and the list goes on.

As much as it is helpful to take your time and be patient in settling for a specific choice, it shouldn’t take too long and be stressful. Once you have your list, get into the process of choosing which to consider, and which to eliminate. Watch videos, visit websites, have a look at 360 tours of the facility, read online reviews, research, and ask around. You can also make preliminary contact by calling or e-mailing your prospect choices to trim your list faster, It helps a lot to get you through the process and take you a step further in choosing the senior living community that stands out for you.

Visit and Inspect

Once you cut your list short, it’s time to pay a physical visit to the facility to get its feel. Observe the culture inside the community, take note of how residents and staff relate with each other, are the people in it active or inactive, make notice of the facility’s security features, then assess its cleanliness. Visiting the community will help you determine if it’s a place you can eventually call your home. We also advise to bring a close friend or family member around to get a second opinion on your choices.

In some instances, a second visit to supplement the first is necessary to confirm the consistency of the initial observation. Consider visiting when the top management isn’t around the community to see how it’s different. Keep in mind that you about to make a crucial decision that would involve a great part of your life, so be invested in the process and be patient with how it turns out.


At the end of the process comes selection. Once you have selected the right senior living community for you, you’ll have to begin with the commitment process. Initially, you will be asked to choose a final floor plan or your housing options, then you will sign a contract. After that, you will be scheduled for an overall health assessment that will determine the need you care throughout your stay in the facility.

This entire process will be as smooth as it can possibly be when you have planned ahead. You can never go wrong with an informed decision, so before settling with your final choice, make sure that your have properly weighed your options in finding the best senior living community that best fits you or your loved one.



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About the Author

JM Guiang

Writer & Researcher

Elder Guide LLC

Inspired by fresh ideas and wise words, JM Guiang, Communications degree-holder, and Elder Guide writer, finds profound joy in writing quality content and insightful articles that redefine seniors' perspective on aging with grace and confidence.