5 Ways Online Review Sites Can Help You Find Senior Care

Updated 8/14/15 2:48pm | Access to all-inclusive health services and senior safety is the foundation of Alert1 services. We know you can get overwhelmed in the process of choosing senior care. Fortunately, there a lot of online resources out there to help you find the right place: associations like AARP offer a lot of helpful guidance and provider websites usually detail all of the services they provide. But to get a better idea of whether a community will be a good fit for your loved one, your best bet is to read others’ experiences there. An online review site like SeniorAdvisor.com is focused solely on senior care reviews, and offers verified reviews from residents, families, and visitors. Below are five ways you can use senior living reviews to narrow your search.

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1. Find senior living options in your area.

First and foremost, you’ll need to locate providers in your area. One great benefit of starting your search using online review sites, rather than a search engine like Google, is that these sites double as directory listings. This means that you can go to the site, type in your zip code or city and state, and you’ll get a list of all the providers in that location. Even better, they’ll probably be pre-sorted by star rating, so you can start with the ones that have a better reputation first! (Of course, you can also choose to sort the results based purely on distance, if you prefer.) Even if you decide to leave your home, you can still use your senior medical alert system at a nursing home. Whether you’re independently aging or living in a assisted living facility, our fall detection medical alert will protect and save you in the instance of the unthinkable.

2. Determine the level of care you need.

Now that you have a list of providers in your desired location, it’s time to start narrowing down your options based on your care needs. If you know you’re looking for assisted living, for instance, most senior care review sites will allow you to filter the results so that only providers that offer assisted care will appear. However, many communities will offer various levels of care, and the way they define those care types can differ widely from community to community. So how do you determine if a community has the medical know-how to care properly for your loved one? This is where reviews come in. Many family members will detail in their reviews just what level of care is provided. Some places may only help with senior medication reminders, but not actually with dispensing the medication - often you can find details like these in online reviews, whereas things may be written more broadly on the provider’s website.

3. Filter down your list based on your budget.

Once you’ve determined location and care type, typically the next limiting factor for most people is cost. Similar to details on care, you can usually find more details on pricing for a community in online reviews, rather than on a provider’s website. In fact, senior cost comparisons may not even be listed on a provider’s website - you might have to tour in person to find out that information! When prices are listed, only broad ranges may be shown. You won’t see all of the particulars that end up going into the final cost of care for your loved ones in particular. Families often share prices quoted to them during a tour in their reviews, and some may also share the prices of specific items (like incontinence care). Some sites, such as SeniorAdvisor.com, will average these user-provided costs and show them on the community page for your convenience.

4. Evaluate services and amenities

Once you have a list of options based on location, care type, and cost, it’s time to start thinking about other factors that will contribute to your loved one’s quality of life. Does your mother take pride in her hair, and would prefer to be able to get it done every week? You may need to find a community that has an on-site hair salon. Maybe your grandpa has been a swimmer all his life, so a community without a pool is NOT an option. Amenities such as these are typically listed on the community’s profile page on an online review site, and families will also comment on these in their reviews.

5. Read others' experiences

This last and final tip is the biggest benefit of online review sites. Sure, it’s all well and good to have a list of options that on the surface appear to meet your needs regarding location, care, cost, and amenities, but how do you know if your loved one will be truly happy there? Read the online reviews to get a feel for the atmosphere of a community - are the staff kind and caring? Do the residents get along with staff and with each other? Why is a community, if it appears to have all the bells and whistles, continually getting bad reviews? Read the reviews and see if you notice any trends - are the ratings improving, worsening, or staying the same?

Of course, reading online reviews from members is no substitute for visiting a community in person. But they give you a great starting place, and enable you to rule out options before you waste your time touring communities that won’t work. The most valuable part of senior living review sites is arguably the feedback from residents and families. These people have gone through the same experience you are now undertaking, and reading about their experiences with communities will help you determine a) what you are looking for and b) whether or not a particular community has it. Researching your options and reading the reviews beforehand gives you an advantage when you start touring communities - because you’ve already armed yourself with information ahead of time, you’ll be less overwhelmed and more able to focus on how you feel at each community, and whether or not it will be the right fit for your aging loved one.

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Written by Amelia Willson