Choosing a senior living community is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, and it’s a huge financial and emotional investment. Like choosing a new home when your family is growing or needs are changing, you want to make a decision that will be satisfactory for years to come. Choose wisely, and you will enjoy an exceptional retirement experience, filled with new friends, the opportunity to explore different interests and hobbies, and the ongoing support that we all need as we age.
So, how do you go about evaluating a retirement community?
First, make a list of your must-haves (e.g., pet-friendly apartment) and deal-breakers (e.g., long drive to the nearest city). Based on this, draft some questions to ask when touring the community, so you’ll get the information you need to make an informed decision. Tour a few communities, and consider bringing a friend or family member along so they can take their own notes, ask questions and share their insight. Sometimes a more objective eye can pick up on something we miss.
To help you build your list, here are some of the most common questions people have when evaluating their options in senior living.
What homes do you currently have available?
Don’t assume that the residences featured in the brochure are available. You’ll be limited by the community’s current availability, and you want to see exactly what you’ll get. Even if you’re the get-out-and-about type, you can expect to spend many hours in your new residence, so insist on seeing the actual apartment or cottage before making your decision. Take special note of storage space, considering how much you’ll be bringing with you, and take a look at the home’s patio or balcony. Square footage matters, certainly, but so does the layout, amenities and location.
An advantage of signing up for a community-in-progress like The Village at Providence Point (scheduled to open in 2024) is that you will have the widest possible choice of apartments and cottage homes.
What does my monthly fee include?
Different communities offer different contracts, and you’ll want to review those carefully to ensure you’re choosing an option that’s financially viable in the long term. Rolling all your monthly bills into one is a huge incentive for moving to a senior living community, but you need to consider the entrance fee and the monthly fees and what those cover. Are there association fees, for example, and what do they cover? What will carport rental set you back? Do prices increase annually, and if so, by how much? What’s the refund policy? Transparency is key.
When you’re comparing various Life Plan Communities, you want to consider not only the fees, but what those cover on-site. Some communities may offer enhanced educational programming or health services. Some may place a higher emphasis on community maintenance or social events. Consider the costs, but also consider what sort of amenities and services are most important to you.
How easy is it to reach the nearest town?
Communities like The Village at Providence Point offer a tempting selection of on-site activities, but you’ll still want to get out and about. If you’re not driving, you’ll want to understand the community’s scheduled transportation. Take a look at the current activities and excursion calendar to see what a typical month looks like.
Can I bring my pet?
Pets provide company and comfort for many people, and many Life Plan Communities allow an animal companion, as they recognize the therapeutic benefit of a pet. Whether or not a community is pet friendly is a make-or-break question for many of us.
Most communities will have weight limits for dogs, and perhaps some breed restrictions. Gather information about associated fees and rules, and remember to ask about exercise options (is there a dog park or walking trails?) and where the animal is allowed.
What’s on the menu this week?
Eating healthy and delicious food is a top priority for most older adults. Ask to see the menu for a full week, if possible, so you can assess the variety of dishes offered as well as the quality. The best communities have several dining options on campus, plus casual hangouts in different locations around campus. Ask about the types of food served and the hours for each dining room and cafe.
If you have any dietary restrictions, it’s important to understand how well your needs can be accommodated. Perhaps you’d also occasionally like to have your meal in your apartment, so check into delivery options and costs.
Do you offer a full continuum of care?
Some of the most important questions to ask when considering a retirement community focus on the future. Life Plan Communities like The Village at Providence Point cater to active older adults with independent lifestyles. They also offer health care services like memory care and skilled nursing, so you and your loved ones will never have to worry about looking elsewhere if your needs change.
For married older adults, it’s important to ask about what happens should a spouse’s needs change. How does the community handle this and what are the associated costs?
Our team at The Village at Providence Point would love to answer these or any other questions you might have about our community. Schedule a tour or contact us to learn more.
The article above is a summary only and highlights a sample of questions to be asked when considering CCRCs. Please see the Residence and Services Agreement for the contractually-binding list of services to be provided.