Has COVID-19 Changed the Way We Search for Senior Living?

Evaluating a CommunityFuture Planning

Coronavirus has not only impacted how we communicate, shop and socialize. It’s also changed how we plan for the future. Even in the middle of COVID-19, it’s still important to think about how in these socially distant times you can find senior living options that will work for your lifestyle. And of course, you may be wondering what the future of senior living looks like and if now is a good time to start your senior living search.

Changes in Community Design and Layout

Senior living communities have always highlighted their hospitality and engaging activities, but it’s also important to consider the levels of care a community has available. Do they have a plan for all types of emergencies, including how to stop the spread of viral infections? Here’s a list of things you might want to consider:

Neighborhoods: Communities are adapting by offering smaller groups of units in a building where residents can live, socialize and dine together. You may also want to ask about access to the outdoors, either with patios, balconies or community gardens.

New materials: Builders are starting to use new materials, ones that are either antimicrobial or are more easily cleaned, for flooring, furniture, accessories, countertops, cabinets, handrails, and doors.

Touch-free tech: Communities are adding technology that allows residents to navigate their hallways and rooms through motion controls or voice controls, like the ones seen in Amazon’s Alexa product.

Changes in Services and Amenities

One long-lasting impact on the future of senior living is how communities keep residents engaged and connected. These unprecedented times have shown the importance of maintaining relationships to enhance everyone’s quality of life.

Socializing: Communities are finding ways to help residents connect with their loved ones and other residents via Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom.

Virtual activities: Senior living communities with in-house production companies or YouTube channels are using them to provide online content that residents can watch at their leisure. Now it’s possible to take a fitness class, attend spiritual services or go to educational talks from the comfort of home.

Telehealth: With the rapid adoption of video conferencing, doctors are now able to meet with patients using the same technology. And because telehealth allows your doctor to determine if an in-person visit is needed, it poses less of a risk to your health and well-being.

Technological advancements: Smartphones have already revolutionized everyday life with apps that track health and provide medication reminders. Voice-activated virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri are helping make life easier.

Doing Your Research

While communities are doing virtual visits or one-on-one meetings, it’s still important to learn as much as you can about your options during your senior living search. Start by visiting community websites to read about their reputation, philosophy, services offered and awards. You may also want to check their sites for content and related links such as:

Galleries: Look through community photos or videos to see their amenities, residences, activities, lifestyle, and to get to know their residents.

Facebook: For a behind-the-scenes way to learn about a community’s residents and staff, be sure to look at their Facebook page. It’s also an easy way to see the types of events and get-togethers they host, and will bring their printed social calendar to life.

Testimonials: Here’s your chance to hear directly from residents why they chose a community you’re considering and what they like about it.

Going Virtual

Before making your choice, it’s important to get a feel for the people who live and work there. Many communities can conduct a virtual visit. This is a convenient, safe way for community representatives to give you a detailed presentation, show you floor plans to help you find a residence that fits your lifestyle, and answer your questions about the move-in process and more. They may also hold virtual events where you can also meet residents and learn about the different community types.

In most cases, attending a virtual event is easy, but here are some simple things to know:

  • After doing your research, call communities you’re interested in learning more about to see if they’re doing virtual appointments, tours or events. If they are, they may ask for your email address to send you a link to attend. (Some communities may also have this information on their websites.)
  • You’ll receive an email with directions and a secure link to the event. When asked, accept pop-ups requesting access to your microphone and speakers. You can also turn on your camera so they can see you.
  • That’s it. You should now be in your scheduled meeting.

Where You Live Matters More Than Ever

If you’re ready to find an option that fits your lifestyle, start by reviewing thousands of communities with our community finder.

Where You Live Matters
Psychology Today