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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. A senior independent living apartment 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

20 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.

  5. Senika Victors says:

    It got me when you mentioned that I need to check if the senior community provides personal services to the residents and manage their medications just to be sure that my loved one is well cared for. I will keep this in mind because my grandma can no longer do anything by herself. It is important that we choose a retirement home that will care for her and pay attention to her and her needs so that we can breathe easily.

    1. Country Meadows says:

      Thank you, Senika, for your comments. Finding a loved one the right support is important both for your loved one and your family. Good luck in your journey and let us know if we can help in any way. Thanks again!

  6. joy butler says:

    My sweet mom is growing old and it may be time for her to move into a senior community. I want her to love it and be the most comfortable possible. I liked your suggestion on making sure that the resident-staff interaction is positive and genuine. I will have to pay attention to that as I start looking for a great place for her to live.

    1. Country Meadows says:

      Ms. Butler,

      Thank you for your positive comments about our post. We certainly hope the information provided is helpful in your search. Please let us know if our team can be of any assistance—whether your mom chooses us or not. Thanks and enjoy the holiday season.

  7. Dean Phillips says:

    I thought it was important how you mentioned that you should check to see how medications are managed for residents in the senior community. My wife and I are planning on putting my father in a senior living community because he is no longer able to take care of himself. It is important that he takes his medication and it would be great if we could find a home that has a consistent medication schedule.

    1. Country Meadows says:

      Mr. Phillips,

      Thank you for responding. Medication management is yet another benefit of a retirement community and one that we offer at some locations through our Independent Living with Services program as well as in our Personal Care/Assisted Living program. We hope you will consider our services for your father. Feel free to contact our team at Good luck in your search.

  8. Sariah Meagle says:

    It might be a good idea to select a senior living community that can provide assistance to my father. In case I talk to a resident, I might ask if they’re happy with the community. I’ll try to see if they have access to privacy as you mentioned so that he be comfortable in his new home.

    1. Country Meadows says:

      Ms. Meagle,

      Talking to residents provides great insight into what it’s like living there and what to expect. Good luck in your search and of course let us know how we may be able to help or information about our services. Thanks again for your interest.

  9. Jay Jorgenson says:

    I would like to know what an assisted living provides for seniors. I like how you mention asking if the community if the nurses are on staff 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays. Thank you for the information. I’ll contact an assisted living for more information.

    1. Country Meadows says:

      Mr. Jorgenson,

      Thank you for your comments. That is a great question to ask any community you are evaluating. And if we can provide any information about our communities, please let us know for which community at Thanks.

  10. Signs He's Your Soulmate says:

    Of course, what a splendid website and educative posts, I will bookmark your website.All the Best!

    1. Country Meadows says:

      Many thanks! We are glad you found our website helpful.

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