How to Uncover the Truth About a Senior Living Community

The decision of where is the best place for an elderly loved one to live out their golden years can be challenging for families.

Most aging adults express the desire to age in place in their own homes. But, an elder may not be able to live in their home safely if, as time goes on, they develop issues performing day-to-day activities such as cooking, cleaning and paying their bills.

The notion of moving into a senior living community, such as assisted living, is typically regarded as a negative by elders and their families. However, a new study indicates that this stigma may be unwarranted.

Over 90 percent of adults in assisted living enjoy residing in their communities, according to a recent survey. The vast majority of elderly inhabitants rated their overall satisfaction with their community as either “good” or “excellent.”

About 44,000 older adults participated in the study, which was conducted by the National Research Corporation.

Moving a loved one to assisted living can be a contentious, difficult process for a family, but the results of this particular investigation suggest that many caregivers may be forcing themselves to go on an unnecessary guilt-trip.

What seniors want from communities

What can you do to help make sure your loved one falls into the considerable percentage of pleased residents?

In-person tours are a must for those who want to make sure a specific community is right for an elderly family member.

Researchers identified several factors that had a significant impact on the satisfaction of assisted living residents:

  • A knowledgeable staff that treats residents with sensitivity and respect.
  • A management team that is both approachable and responsive to resident issues.
  • The opportunity to choose from a variety of amenities and preferences (i.e. menu selections, activities offered).
  • A home-like atmosphere.

Some of these elements will be easier to gauge than others. During your visit, simple observation can reveal important information about that community’s atmosphere, selection of amenities as well as the overall competency of their staff.

Want the truth—talk to a tenant

But how do you know whether the people working at your loved one’s future home are sensitive and caring? How do you determine whether a community’s reality matches up with its marketed persona?

The answer may lie at the end of another question, directed at seniors currently living in a community you’re considering: Would you recommend this community to a friend who was looking for a place to live?

Think about it—you wouldn’t advise your friend to eat at a restaurant where the waiter was rude, or get their hair done by a beautician that gave you crooked bangs. The same logic applies to senior living situations.

Chatting with the residents may be the most beneficial part of your visit to an assisted living community. They are far more likely to offer you honest, unbiased feedback about the community. And you probably won’t have a hard time finding a talkative tenant.

Discover 12 more questions to ask current residents so you get the best senior living community feedback.

Baby Boomers Prepare for Parents to Move In
20 Signs Your Loved One Needs Help at Home
How to Talk to Elders About Moving to Senior Housing
7 Common Reasons Elders Resist Moving to Assisted Living
How to Pay for Assisted Living
Finding Assisted Living for a Loved One With Alzheimer’s Disease

By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor


Susan T.
Susan T4 years ago

seriously? gosh what if I don't have the resources or ability to help both my Mom & my Dad and how can I help them both? and make sure they are both taken care of correctly when they are on opposite sides of the state? I trust no one .

Karen Orr
Karen Orr4 years ago

Before placing anyone in a facility, investigate thoroughly. This article is okay, but paints an unreal picture of satisfaction. Many people in Assisted Living Facilities, can not always make good decisions, they need help. Diet? Express the fact of the types of food the potential resident is accustomed to eating, to see if their diet can be maintained. Last, but not least, please show up unannounced, for immediate tour, without sitting in office for talking first. Investigate all floors, areas. Often, a resident is moved to a very undesirable area, when the resident is not frequented by family members, like an advocate. This happens too frequently, involving Alzheimers patients, since people figure they have a mental issue. I ought to know. A facility[private], in Stafford,Virginia, was suppose to be able to help with all areas and stages of this disease, so my brother's wife trusted these people for his care, she could not handle. I came unannounced, since I do not live in the state and it is difficult for me to get around. Shocking to find his living conditions, no dietary compliance, no physical/mental stimulation, not clean, spent our visiting time, caring for my brothers hygiene, cleaning his filthy feet, looking for slippers, or socks, so he would not be walking the bare, dirty floors. Oh, forgot to mention, he was supposedly to be on the nice main floor, but was shoved in basement with all the dying/bedridden patients. Why? He was too mobile, could speak fluently and

Jean P.
Jean P.4 years ago

This post is very much informative. I absolutely agree with all these ideas shared. We all know for a fact that Assisted Living in America may not be as perfect as we want to but these communities for the elders really help so much. I think it would be much better for the government to be keener in the monitoring aspect so as to ensure quality service and health care for the seniors.


Bonnie M.
Bonnie M4 years ago

As Kath P wrote- start looking before your time of need comes.
It is a tragic reality- no one wants to be a burden.Well and good to want to live to be 90- that is if you are truly able to take care of yourself. But such is not the case. So many elderly people are left by themselves- no one seem to have the time nor patience to take care of the needs of an elderly member .
it is advisable for anyone who is getting on in age to make the right call as to what to do-don't hedge when you are well aware that a retirment home or other facility is the only place for you.

Get real and face whatever future is left for you with courage and faith.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit4 years ago

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit4 years ago

Thank you.

Amelia Willson
Amelia Willson4 years ago

Could not agree more - talking to a current resident (or many) is so important! I'd also suggest checking out the online reviews for a community on - many of these are from residents themselves, as well as family, friends, and other visitors.

Karen Friedman
karen Friedman4 years ago

I worry about the food I'm a vegie for over 25 years, and no turning back!

Donna Ferguson
Donna F4 years ago

one has to have enough $ to pay for these places, my mom ended up in a nursing home--neither of us had the xtra $. when I get old enough, I'll be in a nursing home as well. oh well.

Mark McKee
Mark McKee4 years ago

Thanks for the post1 My grandpa is happy living with peers in a senior assisted living facility in Oregon. He loves to engage in social activities there and is happy!