What makes a senior living community feel like home?

image of Sunnyside Manor residents chatting outdoors

Many families “just know” when they’ve found the senior living community that feels like home. But, how do they know?

image of Sunnyside Manor residents chatting outdoors

How do people “just know” when they’ve found a senior living community that feels like home?

One answer is that “home” – and places that feel like home – have distinct qualities.

Best of all, these are qualities that you can look for in the senior living communities you visit.

Read on to learn about the six qualities that make a place feel like home, how to spot those qualities in a senior living community, plus tips for helping your loved one feel at home after the move (and what you can leave to the pros).

What does “home” feel like?

As you research senior living communities for yourself or a loved one, of course you’ll want to know about the quality of the care, and the longevity, stability, and reputation of the community. At the same time, most people are also looking for a place that feels like home.

While the definition of home is a little different for everyone, research has shown that most people include six qualities. Those include:

  1. Comfort
  2. Personalization
  3. Safety and security
  4. Familiar sensations (sights, smells, sounds, and tastes)
  5. Routine and stability
  6. Shared memories, social connections, and a sense of belonging

How do you spot the six qualities of “home” in a senior living community?

Fortunately, even though “home” is an intangible feeling, you can use the six qualities of home to get a sense of whether a senior living community will feel like home for your loved one and your family.

Here’s what to look for:


  • The community is easy to navigate and created with seniors in mind. There are plenty of inviting places to sit and chat, with comfortable furniture, pleasant views, and homey touches.
  • The apartments are spacious, light, and provide privacy, while offering easy access to the rest of the community.


  • Resident apartments reflect each resident’s personal style and are decorated with resident’s belongings and furniture.
  • The community goes the extra mile to personalize each space with features like custom paint colors and hands-on help getting the furniture and décor “just right.”

Safety and Security

  • Both the physical and emotional safety of residents in the community are part of the everyday routine. Physical safety measures include call systems, consistent staffing, and easy to navigate apartments and common areas.
  • Mental and emotional safety measures begin with a system for welcoming new residents and integrating them into the community. They also include responsive and accessible leadership, and the freedom to choose how to spend each day.

Familiar Sensations

  • Look for unique touches in the programming that reflect the resident community and the local area.
  • At Sunnyside Manor we have a host of resident-run activities, we bring in flowers and baked goods from local establishments, and our chef even prepares residents’ personal recipes!

Routine and Stability

  • There are long-tenured, highly visible staff in the community, so that your loved one will see the same people every day. (Meet Joanna and Chef Jeff.)
  • Activities and programming on the calendar are happening as scheduled.

Shared Memories, Social Connections, and Belonging

  • Review the calendar for a variety of programs that encourage socializing in different ways. For example, look for structured activities such as crafts and discussions, and unstructured activities like happy hours and socials.
  • Ask yourself whether you can see your loved one thriving here, and whether you can see yourself and other family members visiting. Check whether the community has private areas for residents to host their families, and whether families are invited to share events and meals.

Helping a Senior Loved One Feel at Home in Senior Living: 5 Tips

Helping your loved one move to a senior living community is a big task. Here’s what to focus on to make their new space feel like home (and what you can leave to us!).

  • Bring along their favorite comfort items, like blankets and robes.
  • Choose their most cherished décor for their new space and leave the heavy lifting to us. We’re here to help arrange furniture, hang pictures and paint custom colors.
  • Fill their new apartment with familiar sensations: artwork and photos, a music player, scented lotions or potpourri, and favorite snacks.
  • Let them know exactly when you’ll visit and call, and remind them that staff are always available to help.
  • Join us for great events and encourage your loved one to try a variety of activities and programs. Then, let go! Resident ambassadors and staff will gently encourage them as well and help them integrate into the community.

Find more tips for helping your loved one adjust to a senior living community here.

Home isn’t just a place, it’s a feeling. That feeling is made up of qualities that you can observe as you visit and tour senior living communities. We invite you to join us for a tour to see why so many seniors and their families call Sunnyside Manor “home.”

Learn More About Why Families Rely On Sunnyside Manor

When you have questions about senior living, we are here to help. Sunnyside Manor offers assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Learn more about Sunnyside Manor’s resources for caregivers. Whether you’re looking for short-term support or a longer-term plan, begin with our “Getting Started” guide. Please call us at 888-696-2052 to speak with a senior living expert.

Sunnyside Manor, located in Wall NJ, is the area’s premier family-owned senior living community. The community features three distinctive neighborhoods: Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living, Recollections Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation.

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