Senior couple looking over paperwork

Checklist for Finding an Independent Living Community

For active and independent older adults, choosing a senior living community is a chance to craft the retirement they’ve been thinking about for years. They get to choose a new place to call home, in a location they like, among like-minded people their age. They can maximize their retirement savings and preserve their estate for their heirs. And they exercise some control over their future, putting in place a health plan so they can live safely and comfortably as they age.

Finding the Right Independent Living Community

Matching a senior living community to individual needs, wants and personality takes homework. It helps to be clear about what you want, right from the start. Start by making a list of must-haves, nice-to-haves and anything in between. Here’s what to take into account as you consider your options: 

1. Where do you want to live?

Do you want to be near familiar neighborhood places and people? Or move elsewhere, closer to adult children and/or grandchildren? Do you want to live in a setting or climate you consider more attractive than where you currently live? As you think about these questions, decide how important location will be to your choice of independent living community — very important? Somewhat important? Not at all important?

2. What’s nearby?

What ranks high on your list for the kind of independent living you’ll be doing in retirement? Whether you’re planning to work on your golf game, take university classes, attend sports events or go hiking, it makes sense to be within a reasonable distance of these activities.

3. What type of independent living fits your lifestyle?

From CCRCs to cooperatives to rental apartments, senior living communities differ widely in what they offer in terms of residential living. Floor plans can range from free-standing homes to duplexes and townhomes. Do you want an apartment with minimal upkeep that you can lock and leave? Or a free-standing home with a garden to tend? Look for a living option that’s a good fit for your financial and personal preferences.

4. What’s included? And what costs extra?

Some communities charge a monthly fee for all services. Others charge you for the basics with additional services a la carte. Some include utilities, and others require you to set up your own accounts. Some offer a washer and dryer in each residence, while at others, residents go to a communal laundry room. Find out what’s covered and what you’ll pay for out of pocket. Decide what works for you.

5. What kind of health services are you interested in?

While some communities only offer services and amenities for active adults, which may suit you now, it’s wise to think ahead to a time when you may need different levels of care. Studies show that someone turning 65 today has an almost 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care in their remaining lifetime. A community with on-campus choices for senior care provides peace of mind for your future years.  

6. What kinds of activities are offered?

Wellness and enrichment activities are a feature of many communities, but you’ll want to check that coaches and instructors are professionally qualified. Ask to see a copy of the activities calendar and a list of resident clubs and committees. Which ones would appeal to you? Can you see yourself participating in an event or class with your future neighbors?

7. What’s the history of the community?

Research the past stability and future outlook of the communities you’re interested in. Every community should be open with financial information and willing to answer your questions. Have there been any lawsuits or other legal disputes you should be aware of? Take note if management isn’t transparent about this or only provides limited information.

8. What are the people like?

Because of the coronavirus and social distancing measures, it may not be possible to attend an event and chat with residents about what they like and dislike about the community. Turn to social media to read reviews, and reach out to a community representative to see if you can attend a virtual meet-and-greet to get to know staff and residents.

Next, Make Contact

Visiting a senior community is really the best way to get a feel for the place. Call the community to set up a personal appointment. There’s a lot you pick up on that you can’t see in a glossy brochure. Other advantages of an in-person visit are you’ll get to taste the food, meet your potential neighbors and interact with the staff.

Try a Virtual Visit

If an in-person visit isn’t possible at this time, you can still give the community a thorough going-over during a virtual visit. Many communities have taken their tours online, where a staff member will meet with you virtually and walk you through the campus so you can see amenities, grounds, common areas and available residences. 

Don’t Wait Too Long

Moving to senior living is a big decision. And while it may take a while to investigate your living options and whittle down the choices, commit to doing it sooner rather than later. Take advantage of moving to an independent living community while you’re active and healthy. You’ll get the most bang for your buck out of the active lifestyle, and you won’t be making a decision under duress. Thinking ahead and doing it sooner rather than later are in your best interests.Make the most of your active, independent retirement. Learn more about the carefree independent lifestyle of Canterbury Court.