Four Strategies for Evaluating Senior Living Facilities

Senior living is one of the fastest-growing segments of commercial real estate, and the upward trend is predicted to continue for decades.  If you’re looking for senior housing for yourself or a loved one, this means you have a surplus of options.

This brings good news and bad news. On a positive note, the increased demand for senior housing has brought on innovations in the market. There now exist dozens of living arrangements styles, from nursing homes with full care and medical staff to independent lifestyle communities that resemble any other suburb. With this range of options, you are sure to find an arrangement that works best for you and your family.

On the other hand, this plethora of options can also make it very difficult to make the right decision. For this reason, you should approach your research very strategically. Consider adding the action item below to your evaluation process. 

Make a Checklist

When you’re touring the grounds of a facility, it can be very easy to forget to ask an important question. Make the most of your time with the staff by creating a checklist of key questions and must-haves.  If you’re not sure what to include on your checklist, start with the most basic aspects.


Many senior living residents are completely reliant on the facility and staff to maintain their safety. If this will be the case for your loved one, ask about the policies and procedures that are in place to handle emergencies. You can also look around the facility for safety measures, such as smoke detectors, fire exit routes, and easy-to-navigate layouts. 

Facilities that serve residents with neurodegenerative conditions like dementia should have extra measures in place. Look for secured exits and fall prevention features like handrails. 

On-site Housing Options

Traditionally, senior living facilities offered one type of service. However, as the concept of aging in place grows more popular, more companies are turning to a continuing care model. This way, residents can remain in the same, familiar surroundings as their health needs increase. If this option is important to you, make sure you ask about the facility’s care model. 

Staffing levels and schedules

While many facilities advertise around-the-clock care, the reality may be very different. There are staffing shortages in nearly every sector of senior care. During your tour, take note of how the staff does their work. Do they seem rushed and stressed? This could indicate a shortage within the facility. Also look for telltale signs of understaffing, such as untidy areas, or residents that seem neglected or isolated.

Cost and financing

Senior living homes can be expensive. You may be pooling together funding from numerous sources, including your savings, pension, long-term care insurance, or government benefit programs. Inquire if the facility offers any payment options.

It is also important to know what is included in the basic rate. Many eldercare facilities charge services like laundry and community visits as additional fees. 

Judge a Book by its Cover

Businesses know they only have one chance to make a good first impression. If you arrive at a senior living facility and there are obvious signs of decay or neglect, take that as a major red flag. Facilities that do not maintain their grounds like have issues in other areas like patient care. Even if staff are well-meaning, a poorly-managed facility will have difficulty providing high-quality care. 

Interact with Staff

A well-run senior care facility only exists if staff are reliable, kind, and hardworking. If possible, spend time with staff members and ask them questions about their job, the residents, and the management. 

It’s a good sign if many of the staff members have worked with the facility a long time. This means that management can retain staff, which means stability for residents. On the other side, if staff seem to come and go, it can indicate deeper problems. 

Get a Sense of the Culture

Every facility has its own atmosphere, culture, and values. Are residents encouraged to be active and socialize? Is the facility faith-based or secular? Does management seem interested in the most innovative approaches in senior care, or does the facility follow more tried and true models?

When you visit the facility, you can glean information about its culture by noticing how residents interact with staff and each other. The facility’s amenities can also shed light on its values and if they align with your own. 

If you or your loved one is very active, the right home would have fitness centers, walking groups, and swimming pools. If socialization is more important, look for well-designed communal areas that enable residents to meet and mingle together. 

Take your research online and view website blogs, images, and content. Is the facility’s page visually appealing, with innovative features like instant chat support? Or is it outdated and slow? Businesses that invest in their digital presence are more likely to care about customer satisfaction and innovation.