The U.S. has an enormous and rapidly-expanding senior population. Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that the 65 and older population grew by 34.2% or almost 14 million people between 2010 and 2020. This trend is expected to continue over the next several decades, with the Population Reference Bureau projecting that there will be 95 million senior Americans by 2060

With an ever-increasing number of elderly Americans, many across the country will search for a suitable place to live as their care needs change. For many, senior homes offer exactly what they need. To ensure your elderly family member has the perfect place to enjoy their twilight years, follow these tips.

Senior Homes vs. Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes 

For many, the terms senior home, assisted living and nursing home are used interchangeably to describe a senior care facility. However, there are some major differences between the facilities. Understanding these terms will help you find the right senior facility for your loved one.

  • Independent Senior Living Facilities

The primary difference between the two types of senior living facilities is the level of care provided. Typically, senior living facilities (also called senior homes) offer a higher level of independent living and are focused on delivering options that increase a senior’s quality of life. They provide extensive amenities and group activities to keep residents happy and socialized. 

These homes are most suitable for older adults who can perform daily tasks with little to no help and require minimal supervision from healthcare professionals.

  • Assisted Living Communities

These communities provide help with some of a seniors daily chores such as driving, shopping  and medication management. These rooms or apartments are usually ADL friendly with features like grab bars, low counters  and wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs. 

Staff are available to help those who need to transition from a chair to their bed or help with daily personal hygiene. 

  • Nursing Homes

Nursing homes (also called skilled nursing facilities) offer long-term care services, including custodial-type care to help residents with daily tasks like bathing, dressing, or eating. 

They provide on-site medical care to residents, and the staff is primarily composed of medical professionals like geriatric physicians and physical therapists. These facilities are best for older adults who require constant, high-quality medical supervision and assistance with daily tasks.

Do Initial Research and Make a List of Potential Options

To begin, perform a cursory web search to learn what facilities are available in your area and narrow down your options. For example, if your loved one is passionate about pickleball, choose a location with an on-site court. If they have a specific religious preference, ensure the facility offers services. 

This process helps to generate a short list of options when choosing a senior living community.  

Do More In-Depth Research on Your Top Choices

With a more refined list of facilities, do some deeper research. Begin by reviewing the amenities available at each location. Some common amenities include:

  • Card games
  • Mingling events
  • Movie nights
  • Outdoor activities like gardening, bird watching, and sports
  • Cooking clubs
  • Exercise groups
  • On-site restaurants, stores, and shops


As you search each location’s amenities, find facilities that offer activities your loved one will enjoy. Other aspects to consider in your research include food options and boarding quality.

If your senior needs an assisted living community or nursing home, you’ll need to focus on the level of medical care provided. Some locations may offer limited healthcare services, focusing on helping residents with daily activities and housekeeping. Others provide more extensive services, including:

  • Memory care
  • Vision care
  • Specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia programs
  • Prescription management
  • 24-hour supervision and monitoring
  • On-site medical facilities


Many assisted living facilities will offer several tiers of care, allowing families to choose the care needed for their loved one without paying for unused services. 

When considering senior living options, read reviews from residents and their families. Reading a range of critiques gives you an accurate picture of the day-to-day life of residents and the level of care provided.

Several senior living referral sites specialize in reviewing and detailing different facilities. and U.S. News and World Report are among the top options for nationwide referral services.

You can also view state-assisted living records or speak with your state’s long-term care ombudsmen, which will detail each community’s records for health inspections, violations, and licensure. 

Tour Each Facility and Interview the Staff

The next step in selecting a continuing care retirement community is to tour each facility with your loved one to get a feel for residential life. This may include the cleanliness of the common areas and the level of community provided. 

You should also interview multiple staff members. Some questions to ask may include:

  • Is your facility licensed? If so, who issued it, and when was it issued?
  • Has your facility ever had its license revoked? If so, why?
  • Are you Medicare or Medicaid certified?
  • What other forms of insurance do you accept?
  • What levels of care do you offer?
  • What are your pricing options?
  • Are any amenities or services not included in this price?
  • Will you show me your most recent inspection reports and resident surveys?
  • Do you have a nutritionist on staff? If not, how is the meal menu decided? 
  • What are your visitation hours and policies?
  • What role does family play?  
  • How do you foster a sense of community?
  • Is a background check part of your employee onboarding process?
  • What are the staff’s credentials? How many doctors, physical therapists, and registered nurses are on staff?
  • Is there an admissions waiting list?


Touring the facility and asking these questions can help you gain a detailed and accurate picture of life at each location. Take notes as you visit so you can review them later.

Work With Your Loved One to Decide Which Facility is Best for Their Needs

Once you’ve toured each facility, sit down with your loved one and discuss their options. Have your notes handy and go through each facility’s pros and cons. Together, you can use the information you’ve gathered to find the perfect senior home.

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