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Checklist for Choosing a Retirement Community

Like so many other big decisions along the aging spectrum, choosing an retirement home for your loved one can feel stressful and overwhelming. Will they be happy there? Will they feel at home? Will they be safe and secure? Will the cost be manageable?

 The list below can serve as a guide in your decision-making process.

#1 Location and proximity

Change is hard for most people and can be especially hard for seniors. Aim for a location that is close to family and friends as well as services and activities your loved one still hopes to enjoy (e.g. shopping, walking, church). Choosing a community that is familiar to your loved one will make the adjustment somewhat easier.

#2 Health and wellness requirements

Different communities offer varied levels of personal care and health services. When assessing a good fit for your loved one, consider not only their current state of health and wellness, but what their future needs will be. To effectively gauge both current and future health requirements consult your loved one’s doctor.

#3 Budget

When examining costs and considering your budget, don’t look at the cost of a community in isolation, look at it in comparison to your loved one’s current living situation. How much is their current rent or mortgage? How much are their current utilities, groceries and building maintenance costs? In most retirement communities, these costs are included in the monthly rent.

#4 Services and Amenities

Consider these four main categories:
  1. On-site services (e.g. support staff, healthcare services, meals, security, transportation)
  2. Activities (e.g. fitness programs, social gatherings, classes, clubs, outings)
  3. Amenities (e.g. outdoor and indoor gathering spaces, room or apartment style/size/layout).
  4. Comfort (Building style, appointments, culture, all around feel of the place).

#5 The tour test

Once you have narrowed down your search, gather up your loved and tour the retirement communities in your desired area. In addition to all of the above noted considerations, assess the cleanliness, orderliness and the general attitude/culture. Is the staff friendly? Do residents seem content? Don’t be afraid to converse with residents and other visitors. Ask them how they like living there.

#6  Fundamentals and Philosophy

Meet with administration and inquire about the organizations mission, vision and the standards they uphold (e.g. awards and accreditation). Ensure all your questions are answered clearly and with genuine consideration. If you have made a decision, review paperwork carefully and with the aid of someone knowledgeable before you sign any contracts.

#7 Don’t delay!

As challenging as this process is – it’s much harder to undertake during or after a crisis! Don’t wait until your loved one is unwell or in distress. Aging is inevitable. This step is an important one and for many it marks the beginning of a more comfortable and satisfying chapter in life.


Choosing a retirement community should not be complicated. At AgeCare, we begin with working with the family to assess their parents’ needs and wants. It’s a consultative approach, as there are many stages in the aging process.