What Matters Most in Senior Living?

There are many factors that help families determine whether their aging parent will be happy in a senior living community—the atmosphere, the dining experience, the activities, and the location.


A study done by Senioradviser.com, of families who toured facilities and others whose family member moved there, reported that the most commonly cited attribute for a positive review is the quality of the staff, followed by the physical surroundings and the food.

Here are the attributes that are most important to seniors and their families when assessing a senior living community:

Quality of Staff

Good reviews were associated with staff who were friendly, caring, compassionate, patient, helpful, professional, respectful, and “like family.” Families gave positive reviews to staff who communicate well and interact effectively with residents.

Physical Surroundings

Communities that provided a nice atmosphere for their residents also received good reviews. Those communities with the highest ratings earned good marks for their décor, building design, and home-like atmosphere. Cleanliness and good maintenance were also big factors in families’ impression of a community. In some cases, the size of the community was important, with some families observing that the community was “too big” and that their parent might “get lost in the shuffle.” Some smaller communities gained high marks for being the “right size” and exuding a home-like atmosphere, though sometimes these communities received lower marks for not having enough for their parents to do.

Dining Experience

The way to the heart of a senior living resident is often through their stomachs, with many reviewers  praising the dining experience as a reason for a positive review. When the food was deemed as just “okay” or less than desirable, the reviews were a less effusive. Positive reviews touted the food as nutritious and tasty, and also lauded the atmosphere of the dining room as providing a “delightful experience.”


Activities were cited less frequently than the other factors described above. However, reviews were less enthusiastic if there were not many things to do in a community. Reviewers who commented about the activities liked the impact that keeping busy had on their loved ones. They observed that having such activities as bingo, card-playing, and trivia games allowed their loved one to interact and socialize with other residents. This seemed to have an impact on the mood of those living in the communities. As one reviewer noted, “She is happy and doing something every time I come to see her.”

Price and Location

Price and location were typically were cited in reviews as reasons for not moving into a community. Those two factors could be a deal-breaker even if the reviewer loved everything else about the community they toured. In some cases, reviewers cited a “reasonable price” as a reason for moving in.

SeniorAdvisor.com has more than 100,000 senior living reviews for communities nationwide.


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