Four Ways to Make a Great First Impression at Senior Living Communities


Choosing a new living situation for Mom or Dad is one of the most important decisions an adult child can make. Options need to be evaluated logically, financially, and emotionally; both head and heart should be involved in making the best choice.

The transition to a new stage of life—and the multiplicity of choices—can be overwhelming. When a family visits your senior living community, how can you provide assurance that here is a home where Dad’s quality of life is important? That his autonomy will be respected and his enjoyment promoted?

Communication takes many forms.  Words are not always necessary. Visitors to your community can be encouraged and reassured by what they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

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Here are a few suggestions for how you can make the best first impression when families visit your senior living community:

  • Snacks. When guests walk into our homes, often the first thing we say is, “What can I get you?” Do you have water or juice for thirsty visitors? Fruit and vegetable infused water (think strawberry or cucumber) can be particularly refreshing.  Can you offer healthy, low-salt or sugar-free snack options? A tray of colorful veggies or assortment of fruits appeals to the taste and the eye.  
  • Comfy furniture. Are your couches nice, soft, and roomy—but impossible to get out of without help? Are your tables and cabinets gorgeous but bristling with hard corners and sharp edges? Furnishings should be attractive but also livable—in other words, homelike.
  • Soothing sounds. Nothing is so unnerving as dead silence that makes guests feel that they must converse in hushed tones. Music makes an atmosphere livelier at once. What tunes did your residents enjoy in their youth? What songs will be familiar to visitors coming in for the first time?
  • Active and bright. Imagine that visitors are waiting for you to come from your office. They are already evaluating their surroundings. Do you have an activity board with inviting offerings for them to talk about? Are there living things (plants, birds, or fish) to create interest? What about fresh flowers? Never underestimate the impact of deep blue hydrangeas or bright red tulips. Is the color scheme cheerful and harmonious? If your visitors eagerly approach you with questions and observations, your waiting area is doing its job.
  • What’s that smell? Detecting aroma is one of our most basic instincts. A bad smell—or a flat, odorless void—can crowd out any other messages your living environment sends. Of course you are vigilant about cleanliness, but a clinical, antiseptic smell can signal hospital or institution for some people. An enticing aroma from an air freshener or diffuser suggests that here is a place for them to relax and plan activities to look forward to. Scents should be light and pleasant. A touch of lavender. Warm vanilla. A hint of cinnamon. The feeling that someone might be baking an apple pie nearby. “Scent marketing” is a growing trend that you may want to take advantage of in your facility.

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