What older adults want when choosing senior living

From food to friends, this is what older adults are looking for in a community.

January 23, 2014

3 min read

Photo of Atria Senior Living residents enjoying dinner together

Talking to Mom or Dad about moving is the first challenge. Finding a community that offers what it takes to help them be happy and healthy is the next.

Atria Senior Living has been serving older adults and their families for more than 20 years. During that time, we have continually developed and refined key services and amenities the majority of seniors tend to prefer. Keep the following in mind when searching for the best option.

Nourishment comes in many forms

For many older adults, dining is at the top of their list. Making sure a community offers a variety of fresh, flavorful and nutritious options is a priority, and becomes even more important when an individual has special dietary restrictions.

Questions to consider include: Does the community’s meal preparations and table service fit your family member’s expectations? Do residents order from a menu with table service or are meals served buffet style? Is there a set meal each day of the week or a variety to choose from? Is the kitchen staff willing to go “off menu” for special requests? What are the kitchen’s hours? Can Mom or Dad get something to eat whenever they want?

Since dining experiences usually provide social nourishment, residents want the setting to be inviting and organized in a way that encourages connection with neighbors. Atria agrees and places a strong emphasis on bringing residents together.

Discuss these aspects of a community’s dining program with your mom or dad before making a final decision. We’ve found the overall dining experience can make a world of difference in their day-to-day life.

Discretion is advised

At Atria, we believe in treating each individual with the utmost respect and consideration. With this comes the expectation that any form of personal care a resident requires will be performed in a discreet, professional manner.

Gone are the days of waiting at a window for a little paper cup. Medications also should be provided in the privacy of a resident’s apartment.

Social engagement is a friend of good health

People are living longer than ever before, and today’s older adults expect, even demand, an active and engaging lifestyle. At Atria, we provide a monthly calendar tailored to their unique interests and talents of residents.

Social connection promotes intellectual stimulation, which is key to maintaining cognitive health in older adults. In fact, one critical reason many families give for choosing to move an older family member to senior living is the lack of social interaction they experience living at home alone.

Atria encourages families to review the events calendars at communities you’re considering. The activity program should include a variety of events, including regular group activities such as yoga and strength-training classes, book clubs, volunteer opportunities, day trips and arts and crafts workshops, for example. Also, find out if staff members at the community are willing and dedicated to making sure your parent leaves their apartment often enough to get involved, meet new people and make friends.

Location, location, location

People of all ages appreciate when familiar faces are nearby so consider the community’s physical location. One of the main concerns older people have is staying close to family and friends. Knowing people in the area where you live creates an atmosphere of safety and security.

It’s natural to spend time outside

Many seniors also want to live in a community where they can safely spend time outdoors. Whether it’s a recreation area or park, a walking path, courtyard or pool area, older adults enjoy spending time in nature. Like all of us, seniors prefer to see a lovely view of their surroundings through their windows.

Go for a test drive

The best way to choose a community that’s right for your older family member is to visit as many as possible in the locations you prefer. Request a tour and the opportunity to sample lunch or dinner. Chat with residents. Review their events calendar. Make notes about each experience to compare later. Do your homework and the ideal community will reveal itself. Happy hunting!

Illustration of three men gardening, one with a wheelbarrel of supplies, one water flowers and one planting flowers

Not sure where to start?

There’s a lot to learn when you become a caregiver, and you may be wondering where to start. Fortunately, many of the experiences you’ll encounter are common, and we've pulled together resources to help you along your journey.

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