Sunrise Senior Living Review (2024)

Our Verdict

Sunrise Senior Living communities may be a good option for older adults interested in independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care. The company’s senior living communities offer many programs for residents’ cognitive, physical and emotional well-being while maintaining high standards and stringent staff training, licensure and certification requirements.

Key Features

  • Holistic approach to wellness, offering activities for mind, body and spirit.
  • Committed to high-quality memory care, including dementia-friendly “neighborhoods” at select communities
  • Sunrise Senior Living communities are pet-friendly, including at least one community dog or cat adopted from local shelters and rescues.

Founded in 1981, Sunrise Senior Living operates 264 senior living communities across the U.S. and 15 communities in Canada. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Sunrise Senior Living is owned by Revera, a major owner, developer and operator in the senior living sector, and Welltower, a senior housing and post-acute health systems investor.

Types of Sunrise Senior Living communities include independent living, assisted living, memory care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and skilled nursing.

Sunrise Senior Living, Inc., has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

  • Senior living communities throughout most areas of the U.S.and in certain Canadian provinces
  • Recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association for implementing the organization’s dementia care practice recommendations
  • Programs for physical, cognitive and social wellness
  • All communities have at least one dog or cat resident adopted from local rescues and shelters.
  • Communities aren’t available in all 50 states
  • May be more expensive than some other communities for older adults

Sunrise Senior Living at a Glance

  • Sunrise Senior Living offers independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing communities. A majority of the communities offer assisted living and memory care exclusively.
  • Nurses at Sunrise Senior Living communities have licenses for the state/province in which they practice and must have prior nursing experience—preferably for older adult populations. Care managers and medication administration staff have completed state training and maintain necessary certifications. Memory care staff members are trained in specialized, evidence-based methods of communicating with individuals with dementia.
  • Sunrise Senior Living communities are located in 29 states and Washington, D.C., as well as in three Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

How Does Sunrise Senior Living Work?

Sunrise Senior Living offers a variety of communities, from independent living and assisted living to memory care. A small number also provide skilled nursing.

Sunrise provides several programs designed to enhance and maintain its residents’ physical, cognitive and emotional well-being. Assisted living and memory care communities offer varying levels of care at an additional cost.

Depending on which type of community a person chooses, Sunrise services and amenities generally include:

  • An emergency alert system (independent living)
  • 24-hour staffing (assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing)
  • Three daily meals and restaurant-style dining with diverse menu options
  • Transportation
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • “Community” cat or dog adopted from local shelters and rescues
  • Monthly wellness visits by an onsite, licensed nurse (assisted living)
  • Creative, social, fitness, educational and spiritual programs and activities
  • Social and educational programs for families
  • Reminiscence, a neighborhood specially designed for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other forms of memory loss (at select locations)

In addition to licensure requirements for nurses and certification and training requirements for care managers and medication administration staff, all Sunrise employees complete onboarding training that covers the staffer’s job scope and responsibilities, as well as Sunrise culture, policies, procedures and standard practices.

Sunrise’s memory care program is recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association for incorporation of the organization’s Dementia Care Practice Recommendations. Staff in memory care communities are trained in specialized, evidence-based methods of communicating with people with dementia.

How Much Does Sunrise Senior Living Cost?

Sunrise Living’s costs vary depending on the type of community, level of care required and geographical location. With those factors in mind, see the estimated average monthly price ranges for Sunrise communities below:

  • Independent living: $3,100 to $5,300
  • Assisted living: $5,100 to $6,700
  • Memory care: $5,900 to $7,500
  • Skilled nursing: Cost varies depending on the type of care needed and whether the cost is covered by Medicare

If the resident requires additional care, such as help with bathing, grooming, dressing and other activities of daily living (ADLs) or greater care needs, the cost for increased levels of care in addition to monthly rent ranges from $2,000 to $8,000 a month for assisted living. Cost for additional levels of care in memory care can range from $3,000 to $9,000 per month.

What Experts Say

One of the advantages of choosing a national company like Sunrise over a locally owned community is a potentially larger staff size, says Joy Loverde, author of Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? and The Complete Eldercare Planner. “This is an important consideration family members should take into account as they begin the vetting process,” says Loverde, who also says family involvement is important in ensuring the best care.

“Family involvement doesn’t end when care is provided within an assisted living community or nursing home,” says Loverde, whose mother’s husband moved to a Sunrise assisted living community after suffering a stroke.

Sunrise Senior Living answered the phone on her first try when she called about moving her mom’s husband and put together a team of onsite experts to guide her along the way, says Loverde. “When I called around to the smaller local care facilities, not only did they not answer the phone, but I also had to wait an entire day until someone returned my call.”

“I personally have no expectation that the care community staff of either a large chain or locally owned facility will become intimately involved in my elder’s life,” says Loverde. “That’s my job as a family caregiver—to do whatever it takes to sustain the quality of life for the people I love, no matter where they live.”

Sunrise Senior Living accommodations in Phoenix are typically smaller than those offered at many other senior living communities, but Sunrise’s programs and care models outshine many of their competitors, says Dustin Baker, senior care advisor and owner of Assisted Living Locators East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona.

“They assign care managers that support the same resident consistently through the week, unlike a lot of other competitors,” says Baker. “Because of that consistency, they are willing and capable of taking care of higher acuity levels of care than most.”

Baker also likes Sunrise’s dining options. “Most senior living [communities] have non-clinical dining staff taking food orders and serving food. At Sunrise, the resident’s care manager is, in fact, their server,” says Baker. “They are charting how much of meals are consumed, as well as fluids, in real time, helping with dietary restrictions or modifications like purée or thickened liquids. It’s one of the few companies that can assist residents in hand-over-hand feeding.”

The Experience

Sunrise Senior Living has a star rating of 3.5 out of 5 on Consumer Affairs based on customer reviews. While satisfaction levels varied, some reviewers cited fewer activities at certain communities than what salespeople promised when they toured the Sunrise community initially.

“No more music, few or no activities, and other than a Monday morning bus trip to CVS or a Thursday afternoon trip to a restaurant for lunch, that big Sunrise bus doesn’t move an inch,” wrote one family member of a Sunrise resident. “All of those casino trips and outings to the mall are nonexistent.”

Another reviewer complained of unexpected price increases and unresponsive corporate staff when it came to his mother’s care: “They told us increases are around 3% [annually]. She has only been here less than five months and they want to give her a full year increase of around $10,000. I have called management of the facility and corporate management. Both have been unhelpful. Corporate doesn’t answer their phones or call back. We asked them to prorate and they did very little negotiations.”

Other reviewers were satisfied with their Sunrise experience. “They offer family-oriented surroundings for those who are in need of help,” wrote one resident. “They are like family and friends … always there for everyone and making sure we are always in safe surroundings to help us feel safe at all times in their home.”

“They took great care of me while I was recovering from surgery and put me through exercise and rehabilitation therapy,” wrote another reviewer. “It was a friendly and homelike atmosphere … services provided there improved my life greatly. I walk and stand better after all my exercising and therapy with my rehabilitation program.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are there medical professionals onsite at Sunrise Senior Living facilities?

Sunrise Senior Living assisted living and memory care communities maintain the following medical professionals:

  • Resident care director (assisted living), typically a registered nurse (RN) but may be a licensed practical nurse (LPN) with registered nurse supervision
  • Licensed nurses (RNs or LPNs)
  • Trained direct caregivers
  • Staff trained in medication administration

“The goal of the wellness team is to build personal relationships and engage in ongoing assessment and evaluation in order to promote each individual resident’s optimal level of health and wellness while maximizing their independence,” says Juli Navarrete, vice president of clinical practice at Sunrise Senior Living.

Sunrise skilled nursing communities maintain the following medical professional staff:

  • Director of nursing, an RN who oversees the wellness medical team
  • Assistant director of nursing
  • Additional licensed nurses
  • Certified nursing assistants (CNAs)

“Additionally, physical therapists, dieticians, social workers and other medical professionals work together with the Sunrise staff as an interdisciplinary team to provide comprehensive skilled nursing services to seniors who have had a recent hospital stay or who have more complex care needs,” says Navarrete.

Are meals included in the cost of living?

Three seasonal daily meals prepared by an in-house culinary team and ordered through tableside dining are included in the cost for all Sunrise Senior Living communities and types of care. Sunrise also offers all-day dining for residents who prefer to eat earlier or later in the day.

Do Sunrise Senior Living facilities have social gatherings?

Sunrise communities offer programs that focus on physical, cognitive and emotional well-being while bringing residents together socially. Social gatherings include exercise and art classes, educational workshops and speakers, and music-centered gatherings with performers and/or residents creating music. Religious and mindfulness gatherings include prayer and meditation groups.

Through Sunrise’s “Live with Generosity” program, residents can perform community service through local organizations and schedule outings to view the results of their work. Sunrise Senior Living communities also offer “Live with Legacy” and “Live with Anticipation” programs where residents can share their wisdom and life experiences, along with goals they want to accomplish next, with other residents and staff.

“A key component of life at Sunrise is an emphasis on meaningful connections—not just between residents but with team members and the greater community as well,” says Michelle Minor, vice president of engagement and program services at Sunrise Senior Living. “Through our programs and social events, residents can have an active lifestyle by engaging with one another and deepening their relationships.”

Sunrise Senior Living Review (2024)
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