ACTIVE RETIREMENT LIVING – MADELINE HILL & FRIENDS – I’m Galen–a friend of Madeline’s, living at Mountain Meadows Community. When my wife Mary Margaret and I began looking for the best place for us, we found very little in the way of helpful information when it came to selecting a senior community living situation that would suit us as individuals. In this and future posts I’ll be sharing with you what we learned, in our process.

First, timing: From what we could see of the other “lookers,” it was clear that much depends upon timing; those who plan ahead have more choices than those forced to move into assisted living or a nursing home because they are suffering serious physical deterioration.  More fortunate were the small but very satisfied percentage of seniors who planned carefully and selected successfully. In this and future posts I’ll be sharing the key selection criteria we decided upon, in our successful search, and some of this might surprise you.

Dining Room Noise Level:  Believe it or not, this is the easiest “one shot” rule of thumb and might be the most important consideration of all.  In a recent post on this site, Cherie Henry has written about sophisticated dining rooms, but I have a slightly different take on this: Go to several community living dining rooms at peak traffic hour and measure the noise level.  If you have trouble hearing yourself think, you have found a community which is alive, alert, spirited and vocal.  If you want a vibrant and stimulating community, look no further.

Fellow Residents: Every happy camper in every community will tell you it’s the people who make the difference.  And it’s true in every case.  There is something about the move to community living which pushes the social button for most people, and congeniality emerges spontaneously.  This seems to happen everywhere, so superficially it does not serve to distinguish one community over another. Still, if you keep your ears open, you can sense those communities where more people share your values and interests, and you will be happier there.

Physical Plant: Every community includes the word “luxury” somewhere in its brochure, but the price tag will give you the best handle on how much luxury you actually will find.  What will surprise you is how little difference luxuries make, compared with other issues which really matter.  For example, if you usually place the red wine bottle on the kitchen counter top, you’ll want Formica rather than Corian.  Still, if class is king in your world, choose the facility whose reception area reminds you of the Four Seasons and plan to spend most of your time there.

Stay tuned – in my next posts I’ll share more of what experience has taught us about selection criteria when it comes to realities such as design for graceful aging, medical services, and a community’s ownership and management style.  And we wish you a successful search!

Photo attached, caption: Our dining room at Mountain Meadows might be sophisticated, but it can also be very noisy – in a friendly way.

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