Lois A. Bowers

Social opportunities and a feeling of comfort. Those are two qualities that Sharona Hoffman advises older adults to seek when they are considering a move to a senior living setting in their advancing years.

Hoffman’s advice comes from professional experience. At Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, she is the Edgar A. Hahn Professor of Law, a professor of bioethics and co-director of the Law-Medicine Center.

Sadly, Hoffman’s wisdom has its roots in personal experience, too. Over 18 months beginning in mid 2013, she lost both of her parents and her mother-in-law, and Parkinson’s disease was diagnosed in her husband at the age of 55. “There is nothing like life experience to enliven  your knowledge and imprint lessons on your mind,” she writes on her website.

Hoffman (pictured, left) combines research and insights related to the challenges of growing older, becoming ill and facing the end of life in a new book, Aging with a Plan: How a Little Thought Today Can Vastly Improve Your Tomorrow. Your work may mean that you already are familiar with the details of some of these topics, but you may find it interesting to read what Hoffman is advising your prospective residents and their families when it comes to senior living. Some of Aging with a Plan, you see, focuses on types of residential settings and how to make wise decisions related to these settings. And some of what she recommends will be music to your ears.

When we met at a recent book signing, Hoffman told me she encourages readers of her book to consider a move before their homes become unsafe with increasing opportunities for falls and social isolation. A move, she said, “is better to do when you are not completely frail, so you can make a life for yourself, make friends and attend events.”

She recommends that readers look for communities that offer plenty of opportunities for social and intellectual engagement, on-site and off-site, so that relocating is something they look forward to. Quality transportation is an important element of that engagement and permits residents to enjoy their independence safely, she said.

The desire for such offerings needn’t limit an older adult’s choices of settings, Hoffman said. “High-end places can be lovely, but modest ones can be good options, too,” she said. Older adults who obtain good financial advice are able to make good choices, she added.

Perhaps the most important quality of a senior living community, however, Hoffman advises readers, is the feeling of comfort it evokes in them.

Are you comfortable with what prospective residents and their families feel when they visit your community?

Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers.