4 Topics to Consider when Choosing a Senior Living Community

Northbridge associates, as part of their orientation, attend our Brass Ring Dementia training led by either our VP of Resident Engagement and Memory Care Services (who created the Brass Ring Dementia training) or one of our Certified Brass Ring Dementia Trainers. After completing the training, associates walk away with a deeper sense of empathy for those living with a form of dementia and new strategies and ideas for how to best care for someone with dementia. Since the program has made such an impact on our associates, and in turn the residents they care for, we thought it only fair that we share some of the learnings with you – the everyday caregiver.

A Note from the Future:

Advice from current families about what to know when visiting or researching a senior living community.

Picture this – you walk into the doors of a senior living community, stop at the front desk to say hi and are greeted by name. The receptionist tells you mom is enjoying exercise class but should be free in about 5 minutes. Your hands are full of a few seasonal decorations to add to mom’s apartment, so you let the front desk know that you’re going to stop into moms apartment to drop everything off before coming back to meet up with her and enjoy lunch in the dining room.

We know that most of you reading this might feel a situation like the one described may seem like a far off dream, but we’re here to coach you on how to make it your reality.

We understand that taking advice from us, a senior living company, might feel a little sales-y, so we’ve reached out to a few of our current family members to share their experience and advice.

One of the best pieces of advice we heard from our current family members is to always keep in mind, ‘is it important to my family member, or is it important to me?’

Make sure you always remember that you are looking for a community for your loved one – make sure you prioritize things that are important to them. A brand new art studio is only going to be amazing if your loved one enjoys art – otherwise it’s just another room.

We’ve created a checklist of important topics you should be thinking about when visiting and choosing the best senior living community for your loved one and your family. Our checklist covers broad topics as well as more specific situations that you might not have thought to ask about.

We hope this checklist, created with the help of others who has gone through the process, will be a helpful resource as you navigate your senior living search.

The Building

Accessibility: this can mean many things from how many elevators are in the building to is there a hair salon.

Questions about accessibility:

  • How many elevators are in the  building?
  • How close is the nearest elevator to my loved ones apartment?
  • Is there a hair salon in the community? What are the days/hours that they are open?
  • Where are the common spaces in relation to my loved ones apartment?
  • What happens if I need to get in contact with my loved one after hours (late at night or very early in the morning) Is there a list of numbers to call, procedure if you need to get into the building?

Cleanliness: when visiting the community check out all the common spaces and see how well maintained they are.

Safety items: don’t be afraid to ask what is provided by the community

Questions about safety items:

  • What is provided by the community and what would you be responsible for buying?
  • What is the installation process? Will the community install? Are there extra fee’s for this?


So much goes into providing the best care for your loved one, it might be hard to think about where to start when asking the best questions.

Questions about care:

  • What partnerships does the community have with local care resources?
  • Are there additional services available – Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, etc.
  • Levels of Care – what does this look like in terms of daily care?
  • Medication – what can you expect in terms of medication management – note that the regulations vary depending on what state the community is in.
  • What happens if…  don’t be afraid to ask what happens if your loved one is sick- who would be reaching out to you? Who should you be contacting with questions?


One of the most challenging parts about moving to senior living for family members is the thought that some else will be providing care for your loved one. It’s important to get to know the associates who will be caring for your loved one. To get a good sense of what the associates are like, there are a few questions you can ask but there are also some observations you can make while visiting.

Questions to ask about associates:

  • Investment in associates – how are associates celebrated/ recognized by the community?
  • How long has the management team/administration been with the community or with the company?
  • What training do associates receive?


  • How do associates interact with residents – do they know residents by name and are they able to ask about or cater to their interests?
  • Do the associates interact with you while you are visiting? Do they seem approachable? Are they acknowledging you, smiling at you as you walk by?

Note from current family: Pay attention to the front desk receptionist – do they know all the residents, do they greet family members by name, are they patient when handling requests? The front desk is often the face of the community and someone you will interact with a lot.


Programming is a huge part of life in our communities but as a family member, here are a few things to pay special attention to when deciding what will work best for you.

Questions about programming:

  • Is the monthly calendar available to family members?
  • Religious services – are services brought into the community on a regular basis? Is transportation provided to religious services?
  • Daily schedule- does the daily schedule of the community mesh well with the daily schedule of your loved one? Be thinking about things like- do they sleep late, can they get breakfast in the dining room whenever they wake up?

Note from current family: having access to the calendar is important so you know when to plan your visit, you don’t want to plan to visit when mom will be exercising.

Finishing up this list is a topic that no matter what questions you ask or what responses you get, you might never find the perfect answer- dealing with feelings of guilt. The best advice our current families can share is to think of these things when those feelings of guilt start to creep in:

  • You are giving your loved one a gift – moving into a senior living community should be thought of as a gift for both your loved one and yourself.
  • Trust that your time together will start to shift from caregiver back to family member.
  • It is so much better than living at home, senior living allows your family member to find community and be around people no matter what time of day.
  • It will never be perfect, but when you think big picture and you can say your loved one is safe and cared for, you’ve done the right thing for everyone involved.

We hope that you feel a little more prepared to either go on that first visit or pick up the phone and reach out to the community you’ve been researching. It will be a difficult decision no matter how amazing the community is but trust that things will get better and remember this piece of advice from someone who has gone through the process and is speaking to you from your possible future – ‘if you can feel as if your family will be clean, safe, cared for and around caring people, you’ve given your loved one a gift.’

Click here to download our Senior Living Visit checklist!

Want to hear from more of our families? Check out our testimonial videos:

Life at Ledgewood Bay

Meet Rick and Ken at The Mariner

Back to Being a Daughter – Stone Hill at Andover

We’re here to answer any of your questions, please contact us if we can provide further information or if you would like to schedule a personalized tour. 


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