What Is Senior Living Community Culture and Why Is It Important?

Jun 1, 2021

What does “culture” mean to you?

In senior living, culture is all about the atmosphere and experience of living in a particular community. As you very well know, there are many different facets and options when it comes to senior living community culture.

Some communities may be more reserved and individualized, while others are more socially oriented and designed for a lively environment. Depending on what you’re looking for or what’s important to you, one community may be better for you than another.

“Culture is very important for our Charter Senior Living family,” says Jayne Sallerson, Chief Operating Officer of Charter Senior Living. “We believe it’s our calling to give everyone in our care – and their families – peace of mind and the chance to be their best selves. That’s why we’re dedicated to our communities offering the warmth of home and exceptional service and never losing sight of the little things that make us different. The experiences we create help our residents feel loved, follow their inspirations and inspire others.”

Jayne says that everyone hired at Charter Senior Living has been chosen for their big heart and their devotion to service. “We admire our residents for their stories that make them who they are,” she says. “Our caregivers are trained to respect and ensure their dignity while providing care that is tailored to their preferences and specific needs.”

Of course, there’s a lot more to culture than just the staff and the philosophy. Location, care types, dining structure, activities offered, community demographics … the list is seemingly endless. But don’t fret. Finding the right culture for you may actually be easier than you think.

“Think of moving into senior housing like moving into a new home,” Jayne suggests. “Beyond looking for payment structures and care types, you’ll also want to come up with wants and needs that will allow you to live your best life in your retirement years. Knowing what you want and understanding what to look for will help make your search a lot less stressful and a lot more fruitful.”

Finding Your Culture Fit: Top Tips from the Experts

  1. Understand what makes you happy in your home.

What is it that you love about your current home? Is it the location and convenience? Is it the proximity to friends, family, and activities that you enjoy? Do you like the atmosphere – for example, is it a little more rural or a little more urban? Take some time to think about what makes you happy in your living space – and what could make it even better.

  1. Consider your future goals.

Retirement is the time for you to say goodbye to cares and chores and instead do the things you’ve been wanting and waiting to do. Perhaps you’ve wanted to buy an RV and head out on a long cross-country trip (while still having a home base to return to). Or maybe you’re ready to live a jet-set lifestyle, visiting all sorts of foreign countries you’ve read about but never been to. Maybe you’d like to go back to college or start a new business or career. Or perhaps you want a quieter, less stressful life living near your children and grandchildren so you can be a part of their lives. Knowing what it is you want to accomplish now and in the future will help you look for a senior living culture that will be more apt to help you make those goals a reality.

  1. Know the type of lifestyle you want.

While variety is the spice of life, and it is important to be exposed to a wide variety of ages, stages, demographics, and interests, most of us intrinsically know what type of lifestyle and location would suit us best. For example, if you enjoy being outside and taking part in the world’s natural beauty, you probably wouldn’t necessarily want to move to a location that’s completely urban and far away from walking trails and natural landmarks. If you prefer being near the ocean with a warm temperature year-round, you probably won’t want to move to a landlocked state. What sort of interests do you have – woodworking, bird watching, artistic endeavors, or something else? Having those options available to you will make your retirement fulfilling and enriching, so be sure that whatever community you choose has the culture to support that.

  1. Think about your future needs.

What you want from a community culture may change as you age. Right now, you may be active and independent, looking for a lifestyle and culture that provides countless opportunities to stay engaged, be inspired, and find adventure. As you age, perhaps requiring assisted living or memory care services, what type of culture will make you feel most at home? If you’re planning on moving into a community that provides all levels of care, be sure to check out how culture translates to all those aspects. The best community culture is one that is focused on helping residents live as independently as possible with dignity and respect, no matter how much assistance they may need.

  1. Do your research.

The best way to get a feel for a community’s culture is to experience it firsthand. You can start by asking friends and family about different communities they know or have experienced, going online, and doing some Google digging. Once you’ve selected several locations that seem promising, schedule tours so you can actually see, hear, smell, feel, and understand the culture. What looks like a perfect place on paper may end up being completely the opposite of what you want. You may want to consider doing a short-term stay at different communities to give you an even more insider feel for what life is like. These days, many communities allow potential residents to spend a night (or more) so they can experience the community in many different ways.

  1. Talk to residents.

As you’re looking around at communities, take some time to meet and talk to residents there. What are the people like? What are their interests and hobbies? Are these people whose company you can see yourself enjoying? While the location, building, and amenities are incredibly important, so is the community’s “community” aspect. After all, you’re probably moving into senior living because you want to be around peers who are interested in the same things as you. Listen to your gut – what’s it saying to you? Sometimes, you just know when a place is right for your future adventures.

“There’s no right or wrong culture; only the one that’s right for you,” says Jayne. “Take your time, do your research and think about what really matters to you. By following these six steps, you will be more likely to find a senior living community culture that meets your needs, wants, values and goals.”

Your Journey. Your Way.

Charter Senior Living is a caring and compassionate leader within the senior living industry. Charter manages 24 senior living communities throughout the U.S., offering Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care services. A family-owned business with an executive team with more than 100 combined years in the senior housing industry, Charter Senior Living’s mission is to enhance the human spirit of our residents, families, and employees while serving with heart, purpose, and courage – and to have fun while serving.