Planning Ahead: When to Start Looking into a Senior Living Community


When should you start researching your senior living options? The answer is simple: It’s never too early to begin planning for senior living.

Planning ahead makes it possible to:

Discover More Options

When you start early, you have time to do some initial research. Ask friends and family if there’s a community that they would recommend. Determine what communities in your area have a strong reputation. 

Then, start making a shortlist. Look at each community online. What living options are available? What communities offer the level of care you are looking for now and in the future? Are some communities closer to family and friends than others?

There’s a lot to consider as you generate your options.

Take Time to Tour Communities that Appeal to You

Once you’ve narrowed your list down, you can arrange for tours. Plan to spend a couple of hours with each community. After your visit, jot down some notes about what impressed you.

Starting early means you have time to spread out your tours or invite a friend or loved one to join you. 

You can space out tours to accommodate your schedule instead of rushing to make a decision.

Learn About Financing Options 

Finances are a key consideration when it comes to planning for senior living. Learning what’s available to you can help you find the best fit.

Planning ahead allows you to work with a financial advisor or estate-planning attorney if you choose. Turning to a professional can help you explore an array of options about which you may not be familiar, such as reverse mortgages, life insurance conversion, Veterans Benefits and more. 

Read our blog: Three Steps to Budget for Senior Care or download our guide Financial Planning for Retirement Living

Prepare for Waiting Lists 

Occasionally, communities will have a waiting list. Starting early will allow you to take that into account. You can inquire about how the waitlist works and if there is a deposit required to reserve your spot.

When you visit a community, ask about its occupancy rate. A community that is nearly full may not have a waiting list currently but could have one 2-3 months in the future. 

Avoid Overwhelm

Making any kind of life change can feel overwhelming. Avoid stress by planning ahead. When you start your search proactively, you can set the pace of your decision-making process.

If you wait until you need to move into an independent or assisted living community, you’re far more likely to feel pressure to make a decision. 

Instead, take time to carefully consider your options. Just like buying a house, choosing a retirement community is a big decision. You want to feel confident that you’ve made the right choice.

Begin the Right Sizing Process

For some, this may mean moving to a smaller residence, while others may decide they need more space than they currently have. 

When you “rightsize” you figure out what furniture and belongings fit your current lifestyle – what helps you with daily living as well as what brings you joy and meaning.

Wherever you choose to live, you need to think about which pieces of furniture you’d like to move into your new space and what items no longer serve your needs. Perhaps the pool table and large sectional were great when you had a house full of teenagers, but they are not needed in this current season.

Moving into a retirement community could be a fresh start and a nice excuse to revamp your furniture and decor.

Others may be ready for streamlined simplicity – less clutter and less stuff. You may decide to give things to friends or family. Alternatively, you might choose to donate what you no longer need to your favorite charity. 

Since your new community is most likely taking care of maintenance, you may no longer need things like a lawnmower or snowblower. Perhaps you are still storing boxes of trophies and mementos that belong to your children. 

Proactive planning allows you to make thoughtful decisions about your belongings.

Making Your Start

Finding the right retirement community is not a simple decision, but it’s one that can be made far easier by not waiting until the last minute.

Change can be daunting, but moving into a vibrant community can open the door to fun, freedom and relaxation.

Most importantly, senior living can give you the ability to do more, not less.

Check out our ebook: 5 Signs of a Stellar Assisted Living Community.

Schedule a Tour 

Are you noticing worrisome changes in a loved one? Starting a conversation about living options can be difficult. Check out our guide: Talking with Your Parents or Loved Ones About Senior Living. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about senior living options.