Tips for Visiting an Independent Living Community
Whether it’s independent or assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing, the best way to make an informed decision about which community to move to is with an in-person visit. You’ll have an opportunity to tour the community, ask questions of the staff and meet residents.
When you visit, it’s important to bring along a list of questions to ask and items to look for on your tour. Keeping careful notes about each community is also invaluable. This information will help you with both.
Evaluating Your Independent Living Options
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as you prepare for an independent living community visit:
As is true of any industry, the quality and experience of the staff has a direct impact on customer satisfaction. You’ll want to ask the staff at each community you visit about the team’s experience and how long the average team member has been with the community. Also find out whether the staff undergo background checks, as well as what type of training is provided. Both the initial employee orientation and the ongoing training programs are vital to residents’ health and happiness.
Another important consideration is the depth and variety of resident activities. Does the community offer different programs and events every day? Is there a mix of activities that nurture the body, mind and spirit? Are there also opportunities to participate in group outings to popular local and regional destinations, such as zoos, art museums, shopping centers and restaurants? If you are interested in learning or reconnecting with a hobby that isn’t currently offered, such as playing the guitar or chair yoga, is the community able to add it to their schedule? These are all good questions to ask to gain better insight into resident lifestyle.
Take some time to think through what is important to you, both in this stage of your retirement and in the future.
- Are you looking for a place right now that you can lock up and leave while you travel for a few months? Ask if and how the community will accommodate that.
- Or perhaps you’ve decided it’s time to cut back on your driving. Finding an independent living community with a flexible transportation program would be a high priority.
- Does your prospective home or apartment feel room with plenty of closet space. Does it come with a washer and dryer?
- If you have a dog or cat you want to bring with you, you’ll want to ask whether the community is pet friendly and what their policy is.
- Ask to see their club house, fitness center, game room or activity area. Also, take a look at their activity calendar and look for wellness, spiritual, physical and educational programs. Do they offer day trips? Are you close to shopping, restaurants and other interesting venues?
- What type of emergency response system is provided? If the need arises, do they offer outpatient therapy so you can recover in your home?
If you are like most seniors, you’ll have to stick to a budget. That’s why having a thorough understanding of the costs associated with living there is important. Equally essential is knowing what is—and isn’t—included in your monthly fee. These costs can vary greatly from one community to another. Signing a lease is typical so you may want to ask about the terms featured in the lease. Ask for a comparison sheet that can assist you with comparing where you live now versus there. Most find, all things considered, it is more affordable than they think.
Finally, another idea that might be useful in choosing an independent living community is to ask friends, colleagues and other contacts for feedback. See if anyone you know has firsthand experience with any community you are seriously considering. When touring ask about the customer satisfaction survey results and/or ask to speak with some current residents for insight. Maybe even put the question out on your social media channels. While it’s usually fairly easy to find online reviews about communities, connecting with people who have personal experience can provide valuable insight.