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retirement community January 30, 2018

What should you look for in a retirement community?

If you have decided that retirement community living could meet your needs or those of a loved one, you have several options to consider. You may even feel a bit overwhelmed by your choices and concerned about making the right one. Seeking recommendations from friends or relatives is fine, but your priorities may be different from theirs, and you might not be as happy or satisfied with their senior living choice as they are.

To get started, make a list of the qualities and features most important to you in a retirement community. Items on your list will probably fall under “practical considerations” and “quality measures.” Within each of those areas, here are some questions that you might want to ask. You can find our full list of suggested questions on our tip sheet, “What to Look for When Considering a Retirement Community.” You might also be interested in ordering our 20-page  guide, “Navigating the Maze of Senior Living Options.”

Practical considerations for selecting a senior living community

  • Does the retirement community offer levels of senior care that might be needed in the future?
  • What is included in the monthly fee—is it one, all-inclusive rate or could there be add on charges?
  • How has the senior living community fared in state inspections? How has it corrected any deficiencies from previous inspections?
  • Does the community provide transportation to doctor visits, stores, banks and restaurants?
  • And for some of you … does the senior living community allow pets?

Quality measures for selecting a senior living community

Personal care

  • Are daily personal care services provided for residents who need assistance?
  • How are medications managed for residents of the senior community?

Resident-staff interaction

  • Do co-workers address residents by name and respond positively to them?
  • Do residents and staff appear to be happy and to enjoy their interaction?


  • Do residents have adequate access to privacy?
  • Are the surroundings—both indoor and outside—pleasant, clean and well maintained?

Quality of programs

  • Are there plenty of retirement community activities for socialization, both on campus and off?
  • Does the dining program offer variety, choices, fresh produce and foods for special diets?
  • Does the retirement community provide daily fitness activities with qualified instructors?
  • Are therapy services available on site?

Quality of staff

  • What training have the community’s co-workers received?
  • Are licensed nurses on staff 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays?
  • Is the staff organized and positive? How do they seem to interact with each other?
  • Do staffing levels change on weekends and holidays?

Visit retirement communities on your list and talk to those who live and work there

Be sure to visit any retirement home you are considering, possibly more than once and at different times. Talk to the staff, administrator, residents and family members. You will want to be prepared to discuss which service option would meet your needs. An independent living community or an assisted living/personal care home? Is memory support services or restorative services an option?

If you’re choosing a retirement community in Pennsylvania or Maryland, we hope that you will check out one or more of our senior communities. Country Meadows has 10 retirement communities in Pennsylvania—in Lancaster, Hershey, Mechanicsburg, Pittsburgh, Wyomissing, York-South, York-West, Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton—as well as a Frederick, Maryland retirement home.

Please contact us for information or to schedule a tour so that we can introduce you to our full range of services.

Country Meadows

8 thoughts on “What should you look for in a retirement community?”

  1. Marty says:

    Looking for Retirement communities
    Enjoyed reading article above, really explains everything In detail why to consider retirement homes.
    I never stop to say something about it You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.

    1. Country Meadows says:


      Glad this post was helpful. Our goal is to help families in any way we can. Let us know if we can help in any other way. Thanks again for your interest.

  2. Ashley Maxwell says:

    Thanks for mentioning how a retirement community should offer services such as therapy. I also like how you said that they should be licensed. My husband and I are trying to find his grandma a good and safe retirement home where she can participate in activities and get the help she needs.

    1. Country Meadows says:

      Ms. Maxwell, thank you for your comments. Your goal for your husband’s grandmother’s lifestyle sounds great. If interested, we would love to talk to you about options we offer. Would just need to know which location and we can have someone from that team email you with that information: (PA communities) Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Hershey, Lancaster, Mechanicsburg, South Hills of Pittsburg, Wyomissing, York (south region), York (west region); (MD community) Frederick. We look forward to hearing from you.

  3. Camille Devaux says:

    A good friend of mine is thinking about researching retirement communities for a loved one. His biggest concern is making sure that the place he chooses will be able to professionally care for his loved one as well as make sure that she is healthy and happy. It may help him to know to ask about the staff’s training and when the licensed nurses will be working.

    1. Country Meadows says:

      Ms. Devaux,

      We wish your friend strength as he searches for the right community for his loved one. Training and nurse care are definite indicators are quality of care. Be sure to suggest he talk to the management team about access to them when he has questions, concerns or a need as well as talk to residents and their families. Of course he is welcome to contact us with any questions, even if he is not in our area or is considering our communities. We’re here to help. Thanks for reaching out.

  4. Amy Winters says:

    Thanks for pointing out that we should make sure the retirement community offers quality food and options for those with special diets. My mother-in-law has started developing some memory and functional issues, and I think she would benefit from senior care. She has a gluten free diet, so we’ll definitely make sure the retirement community we choose has options for her!

    1. Country Meadows says:

      Ms. Winters

      Thank you for sharing your mother-in-law’s needs, and we offer our guidance in any way to help. Diet for sure can play into both physical and cognitive health and ensuring she is eating well can have a positive effect on her quality of life (and your family’s). Thank you again for reaching out.

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