senior couple spending time outside

How to choose an independent living community: Seven questions to ask yourself

As you’ve gotten older, you’ve found yourself in a very interesting situation: You no longer need all the square footage in your house; you’re growing weary of all the upkeep and maintenance, and you’d like to change that somehow. Yet you’re still quite healthy, active and living independently — and you don’t plan to change that anytime soon.

Maybe the ideal solution is to move to a Life Plan Community. The problem is, you’re not really sure how to choose a senior living community that fits your wants today, and meets any future needs you may have.

If you’ve started to look closer at Life Plan Communities in your area, use this list of questions to guide your thinking before you arrange a tour or personal visit. These questions can help you learn how to choose independent living. They can also help you narrow your search for the senior living community that’s right for you.

#1: Do I want maintenance-free or maintenance-light?

Some communities cover the maintenance outside your residence, but any issues inside your residence are your responsibility. If an appliance breaks, the toilet won’t stop running or the sink backs up, you have to fix it yourself, or pay to have it repaired. Ask yourself if what you really want is a fully maintenance-free independent living community, where a professional maintenance staff takes care of the lawn and landscaping, along with all interior and exterior maintenance.

#2: What type of residence do I want?

Residence options vary from community to community. Some offer free-standing homes set on a rolling green campus; others offer duplexes set within a gated community. Still others offer apartments in a leafy suburb close to a downtown area. Some offer multiple residential options on the same campus. And most communities’ residences are available in a range of square footages and floor plan styles. Ask yourself what kind of independent living residence and setting you’d feel most comfortable in.

#3: What amenities will make me happiest?

If you’re looking for a vibrant lifestyle that caters to your interests and hobbies, check out a community’s list of amenities and common spaces. You’ll find communities offer everything from gardens and greenhouses to woodworking shops and weekly chapel services. Some have movie theaters; some have libraries, swimming pools and state-of-the-art fitness centers. Think about what you want from your independent living community, because once you move in, it’s where you might spend a lot of your time.

#4: What kinds of staff and services do I want?

A maintenance-free environment and maintenance staff is often just the start of what independent living communities offer. Do you want scheduled transportation and a trained driver available to you? What about a culinary team serving chef-prepared meals in multiple dining venues? A concierge? A fitness instructor? A security team on duty 24/7? A barber or stylist at the ready in an on-campus salon and barber shop? A chaplain? Housekeepers?

#5: Do I envision needing care one day?

This is such an important question to ask yourself. Unless you have an underlying health condition, it can also be nearly impossible to predict. But the probability of needing care someday is why many older adults are choosing independent living at a Life Plan Community — also called a Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC. A Life Plan Community offers you independent living, plus a continuum of care, which usually includes assisted living (sometimes called personal care), skilled nursing and rehab, and perhaps memory care. So if you ever need a higher level of care, it’s available to you on the very same campus you’re already living at.

#6: What can I truly afford?

Cost is a big consideration when you’re researching your community. Often, when people are trying to decide how to choose independent living, cost plays as big a role as levels of care and services and amenities offered. One of the best ways to understand what might be the right financial fit for you is to use a floor plan fit tool. Plug in some numbers, such as household size, annual income and net worth, and the tool will help you find residence options that might work well for you. Another method is to look at how much it costs for you to live in your own home. While your mortgage may be paid off, there are still expenses like groceries and dining out, utilities, taxes and insurance, entertainment,and more that you still have to pay. You might find you can afford more than you think.

#7: How do I know when the time is right for independent living?

This is definitely a question only you know the answer to. But it’s a question every independent living resident has asked themselves. Once they made their move, many came to the same conclusion: They wish they’d moved sooner. When you’re ready to enjoy the freedom, flexibility, and fellowship that an independent living community like Canterbury Court can offer, simply contact us or call us at 404-857-3927. We can set up your personal visit and help you find answers to all seven of these questions, and any others you may have about how to choose independent living.