August 12, 2019

More and more retirees are choosing to downsize from their larger homes to independent living communities, which allow them to live in a place that meets their needs while maximizing their independence.

While there are many advantages to moving to independent living, here are some of the top reasons retirees are deciding to move to independent living communities:

  • Home maintenance has become too time-consuming, difficult, or unsafe.
  • They want to avoid stairs in their home.
  • They want to be near their children and grandchildren
  • Their neighborhood has changed, and security is now a concern.
  • They no longer desire to cook or drive.
  • They want to travel without worrying about maintaining their home year-round.
  • They want to meet new friends and maximize enjoyment in their retirement years.

No matter the reasons for moving to independent living, when it’s time to start looking for a community for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to find the right fit. Every community is a little different, so it’s helpful to tour several nearby independent living options and ask plenty of questions.

Let’s take a look at some of the top questions to ask when touring an independent living community:

Which services are included in the monthly fee? Which services are offered at an extra cost?

Every community has its own unique pricing structure. In order to compare costs, be sure to ask each community you visit what its standard monthly fees are and which services come with an additional cost. For example, laundry and housekeeping services might be offered for an extra fee.

What meals are offered and when?

Independent living spaces are typically equipped with full-service kitchens, but many communities also have on-campus dining options including community dining rooms, restaurants, and cafés, which are great options for residents who no longer wish to cook. Find out what meals are offered, and if they can be purchased as part of a meal plan or on an à la carte basis. When scheduling your tour, ask if you can stay for lunch or dinner to sample the food.

What kind of activities do residents participate in?

One of the biggest benefits of independent living is the opportunity to make new friends and stay engaged in fun social events. Ask about what kind of events and activities are organized and held on a regular basis. Are some events held offsite? Are any social activities scheduled on weekends? Ask to view a calendar of the planned activities and see if there are any that suit your interests.

What transportation options are provided?

In most independent living communities, residents are welcome to bring their own car. However, many communities also provide residents with complimentary transportation to nearby doctor appointments and shopping centers. Additional transportation services may be offered for an added cost.

Are pets allowed? Is there a size or weight limit?

Many independent living communities recognize the benefits of pet ownership for older adults. That’s why some allow residents to bring a small cat or dog when they move to the community. Be sure to verify any size or weight limits and/or breed restrictions the community has put in place.

Does the community have security?

Living somewhere with security monitoring and security staff on-site gives residents peace of mind and ensures their safety. It also allows residents to take vacations without worrying about the security of their home and any belongings that they leave behind. Even if the independent living community is located in a safe area, knowing there is security on-site is always reassuring.

What happens if a resident needs help?

Ask about the community’s standard safety procedures. For example, many independent living apartments are equipped with alert buttons that residents use morning and night to let staff know they’re well. If the button isn’t pressed by a certain time, staff will check in to make sure everything’s alright. Find out if residents are also provided wearable alert devices, such as a wristlet or pendant. In the event of an emergency, how and when will staff notify family members? This is important information to know ahead of time.

Final thoughts

There’s no replacement for a tour when it comes to choosing an independent living community for yourself or your loved one. Visit the communities you’re considering and don’t be afraid to schedule a second or third tour as you narrow down your options.

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the process but remember that by choosing to move to an independent living community, you’re making one of the best decisions for your retirement years. Take your time and only decide when you feel confident and comfortable with your choice!