Searching for an independent living community for yourself or a family member can seem daunting. You may wonder if you have the right information to make the best possible choice.
Online research can get you started, but to understand the unique personality of a community and its residents, you’ll want to consider scheduling a visit. By spending some time visiting communities — and asking the right questions — you can feel confident about your decision.
To help you make the best use of your visits to independent living communities, we’ve put together a list of important questions to ask and information to gather — both before and during your tour.
Before Your Independent Living Community Tour
Experiencing communities for yourself is the best way to decide, but before you schedule your visits, you may benefit from engaging in a little soul searching. Why are you considering a move, and how do you expect your quality of life to change in an independent living community?
Independent living communities strive to serve individuals who need minimal assistance with self-care but who want to leave behind the responsibilities of home maintenance. With a variety of available amenities and services — including housekeeping, landscaping and dining — active adults can spend time focusing on activities they enjoy.
As with services and amenities, housing types vary among different independent living communities, ranging from small studio apartments to large cottages. To aid in your choice of a community, consider the type of residence that will best suit your needs, along with any amenities and services that especially appeal to you.
Before you begin touring communities, you’ll also want to think about the area where you’d like to live. If you hope to stay in your current city, you probably already have familiarity with at least some of the communities near you. If you’re interested in making a move to another area, you may want to spend a little more time researching local areas, including their amenities, cost of living and climate.
You’ll also want to consider setting some initial parameters for choosing independent living communities to tour. Factors to consider may include proximity to dining and entertainment, available residence options, costs and access to additional levels of supportive living.
During Your Independent Living Community Tour
As you visit communities, you’re likely to see common areas and residences as you meet a variety of people, enjoy a meal and gather a significant amount of data. Above all, you’ll want to get a reading on the answer to one critical question: What will my quality of life be like if I move here?
Multiple factors will contribute to daily quality of life for you or your family member. The services and amenities offered, the state of the wellness programming, the quality of the food, the friendliness of your neighbors, the residential floor plans offered, the healthcare and many other factors will play a role in your overall enjoyment and well-being.
What are some of the key questions to ask to help you choose the community that can have the greatest positive impact on your quality of life?
For most people, meal quality contributes significantly to enjoyment of daily life. The independent living community you choose should offer a selection of nutritious, delicious meals in locations and at times of day that work for you. If possible, get a sample menu to take home, and ask how often menus vary. Even better, stay for a meal at the community and taste for yourself. If you have any dietary restrictions, be sure to ask how the dining staff will accommodate your needs.
Friendliness, expertise and helpfulness of staff members in the community you select will play a key role in your day-to-day quality of life. During your visit, observe how employees interact with each other and with residents. Do they seem open and approachable?
If you’re looking for an independent living community, you likely can live on your own and do not need significant assistance. However, availability of care for the future may play a role in the community you choose. During your visit, staff members can explain the types of supportive services offered and the accompanying fees.
Before you decide on an independent living community, you’ll likely want to know details about pricing. Staff members in each community should provide you with literature detailing all fees, including those for entering the community, monthly maintenance and dining. In addition, you may want more information about fees that could apply in the future, such as those for personal care and additional supportive services.
Depending on contract type and other factors, different independent living communities offer different services. For instance, some communities may offer housekeeping as part of a monthly fee, while others may not include it in the basic fee but give you the option to pay à la carte.
Communities also differ in the amenities they include. Fitness areas, pools and spas, dining venues, activities rooms and outdoor spaces all vary among communities. If you’ll want to keep a car at the community, be sure to ask about parking availability and any additional charges.
Independent living residences can vary significantly among communities, from floor plans to finishes, amenities and more. Consider what type of layout, space and features will best meet your needs. If you’re active and plan to stay out and about at various activities or travel often, a studio apartment may work well. On the other hand, if baking is your hobby or you enjoy entertaining, you may want a little more space.
After you choose an independent living community and move in, what policies come into play should you need to move out for any reason? If your needs change or you simply feel that a different community would better serve your needs, you’ll want to know about any requirements for moving out.
If you enjoy getting out and about, you’ll want to know more about the local area. What amenities are nearby? Consider asking staff members and residents about favorite spots for dining, shopping and entertainment near each independent living community. In addition, ask around to find out if the neighborhood is quiet and safe.
If you have a furry family member, you’ll want to make sure that any community you consider welcomes pets. In addition, community policies can vary on the number of visitors you may have at any one time and how long they may stay with you.
10. What types of activities can you enjoy in the community?
Independent living communities typically offer a variety of programming to appeal to a wide range of interests. In any given week, you may enjoy musical performances, classes and lectures, fitness activities, arts and culture, meetings of clubs and groups, spiritual services and more. If you have particular hobbies or areas of interest, be sure to inquire about whether your favorite activity is offered.
This list of questions and things to consider gives you a good starting point for gathering the information you’ll need to make an informed decision. However, during your visit, you will likely notice a myriad of details that will help you select the right independent living community for you.
For more help making your decision, download our interactive Guide to Navigating Retirement Living Options.
Enjoy an Abundant Life at Aspire at Carriage Hill
When you choose independent retirement living at Aspire, you’ll enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle in a beautiful community with a wide range of apartment options and ample outdoor spaces. You’ll also benefit from an array of stimulating programs, great dining and fitness options and every day services and conveniences. Please contact us today to schedule your tour. We look forward to meeting you and showing you our community!