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With the increasing age of our population and the growing length of time an individual can live, we have all become more aware of the importance of quality elder care.  There are currently 47 million Americans over the age of 65.  This massive demographic has led to an explosive growth of diversity in the options available to ensure an active and enjoyable lifestyle throughout our senior years. Retirement planning has changed and modernized to meet these new needs as well. At the same time private and state insurance policies have been adapted to cover aging adults in a variety of scenarios. Costs are increasingly covered by a continuing personal income and retirement savings.

All of this evolving information can be a lot to take in, and it’s best to approach it logically before you are forced to make retirement decisions quickly. If you are a soon-to-be senior yourself who is looking towards the future, a senior considering their retirement options, or a loved one looking to make a retirement living choice, it’s time to start planning now. 

There are significant differences when it comes to the State and Federal regulation when using the terms nursing home and assisted living facility. The services they have to provide to their residents are defined by the type of facility.  One should be aware of these differences to make informed and empowered retirement home decisions.

Choosing a Retirement Home

The list of requirements for each person choosing a senior-friendly retirement living environment is very similar to purchasing a home, but in the case of selecting a retirement home, it is already filled with staff, roommates, and other residents. This choice can be very overwhelming when a retiree tries to carefully make decisions for themselves before they require any specific type of care. It is equally overwhelming if you are looking for retirement options for your loved one, as it is an enormous challenge to find an appropriate retirement facility during a time of crisis.  Help is available through many resources in your community. Unfortunately, to access these resources one must have the prior knowledge of the senior systems in place.  These resources include doctors, social workers, therapists, religious, cultural and gender-specific organizations, and other local agencies that are dedicated to the aging individual. Friends and family also play a critical role when choosing a retirement home.  The internet also has what seems like limitless information of senior living options.  Rarely is this content specific to one’s area of residence or does it compare retirement facilities available within your community, making this content of little use at some steps in the retirement planning process. 

It’s lovely to look at pictures of active beachside communities offering sailing and surfing in California or eco-friendly, holistic care homes tucked within the Rocky Mountains, but these retirement options may not be realistic for the average senior. Parts of these fantasy facilities though can be included with the choice you eventually make.  One retiree may want a community that has an assortment of outdoor activities available like walking clubs, gardening projects, or just beautiful grounds to enjoy. Another retiree may look for facilities that embrace holistic health practices including spiritual needs, alternative medicine, and a range of diet plans that include options for patient-derived food choices along with dietician planning to meet healthy diet requirements.

Personal preferences that are common when choosing retirement homes are the size of the room, whether a private room is provided, the number of belongings and personal items that can be brought with each senior into the retirement home, visiting hours and policies on overnight visitors, and whether a pair of spouses can be housed within the same retirement community or facility.  An important question to ask is whether you can request additional services at an increased cost and whether the retirement home allows private personal service workers, such as home health care aides, to work with individual residents within their retirement facility.  Types of personal services offered in retirement homes can include additional private medical care, cleaning and laundry services, personal assistance with everything from personal shopping to hair stylists.

For many older adults, it is best to consider using a specialist service that helps place seniors within the appropriate retirement community in their area. This choice also is a way to empower yourself to make long-term plans and make important personal decisions before the care is required. Now with such a diverse and exciting array of senior living communities and retirement homes that are available to choose from, it even makes sense for long-term planning to be done by a person even before they reach retirement age. Financial goals, insurance requirements and research into services available within your community or another area closer to family members takes time to assemble.

Whatever your decision is, there are essential questions for care and comfort at any retirement facility.

How do I find a retirement home near me?

There are two further things you should be aware of as you begin the process of finding a retirement home near you:


Assessments are part of the state and the federally regulated process of retirement home placements, particularly in nursing homes.  Be prepared to see a group of individuals of different skill types that assess the suitability of each retirement facility.  They will ask the individual and family certain questions. Moreover, medical professionals such as physicians, registered nurses and social workers will perform physicals and mental assessments of each patient on intake, and the team will then make an informed decision on the type of care required and whether it can be provided within a given retirement facility.

Wait Times

Wait times to be admitted to a retirement home vary significantly by location, but in some areas, the wait to enter a retirement home setting can be extremely long and requires months of transitional care before finding a placement.  Since these retirement facilities are accessible to almost all individuals needing affordable and insured senior care, the number of beds available does not meet the tremendous demand for spaces. Some retirement facilities are privately run and funded, but that does not mean in some ways the whole sector provides equal access to care for a much needed and demanded healthcare service.

This process of determining when to look for a retirement facility, what facilities exist in a community to choose from and the type of care that best suits your needs may be too much for one individual to manage. The support of family members may become essential as aging seniors approach the point of needing a retirement home placement.  Community support agencies are available for aging individuals in a variety of situations. Also, there are private retirement home placement services that specialize in guiding both the individual and their family members involved, and support the individual through these steps.

These agencies are commonly equipped to quickly provide accurate answers that are appropriate for each unique care situation. They have access to the current information for a specific retirement community, which is nearly impossible to collect through personal contact with each retirement facility. The choice to use a professional service agency is always optional but, may make the actual process of finding the best retirement home for you or your loved one more approachable and practical.

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