Moving to an independent living community is a major life decision. Finding the right place to call home takes time and research. So where do seniors and families start?
Independent living amenities and services vary widely. Most communities offer diverse activities, housekeeping services, healthy meals, and transportation. But each community has its own unique features, staff, and price tag.
As you consider options, reflect on your personal needs, wants, and lifestyle. “Make a list of your ‘must-haves’ and ‘would like, but can live withouts,’” says Shelane Barrett, national account manager at A Place for Mom. “Make sure the community you choose checks the boxes on your checklist, and doesn’t sacrifice anything on your ‘must-have’ list.”
Use this independent living checklist for seniors to help you determine which features and amenities are top priorities as you search for the best long-term fit. Plus, learn important questions to ask while touring communities.
When starting your search, think about your personal preferences as well as your health. For example, if you have trouble walking or using a wheelchair, a smaller community may be ideal, advises Barrett.
“Sometimes large communities can have long walks to the dining room or fitness center,” she says.
A community’s ultimate goal is to provide seniors with worry-free and maintenance-free living. Top independent living features and amenities are designed to make life easier, but it’s important to evaluate how you can benefit from each service personally. Read through these common independent living features, and check off the services that matter most to you.
The majority of communities create and share a calendar of independent living events and activities for residents on a weekly basis. Find out what activities are available and how often they occur.
Consider the following:
The majority of independent living communities provide three home-cooked meals a day, along with snacks and drinks. Request to see a sample menu, and ask these questions to learn more about dining options:
Some older adults want to keep their cars and continue driving, while others are happy to maintain freedom without the hassles of vehicle maintenance and fuel expenses.
Consider the following to determine if the community’s transportation services are right for you:
A maintenance-free lifestyle is a huge plus of independent living. After 50 years of changing lightbulbs and shoveling snow, most seniors are ready for a hands-off experience! Regular or scheduled room cleanings, which can include vacuuming, dusting, providing fresh linens, and other convenient services, are also common in independent living communities.
Ask the following to learn more about housekeeping and maintenance:
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
Are you a gardener, fitness buff, or someone who looks forward to their weekly poker night? Most communities offer amenities that cater to all walks of life. Whether you’re interested in salon services or swimming laps, ask about features that matter most to you. Some common amenities include:
Safety is a top concern on any independent living checklist for seniors. Ask staff if they have protocols planned for various situations, including power outages, natural disasters, and medical emergencies.
Although independent living communities don’t generally offer medical care, they should have precautions in place for potential falls and injuries. Walk-in showers, grab bars in bathrooms, and emergency buttons or pull cords are standard amenities. Some communities may also have motion sensors or fall-detection technology. On your tour, you can ask if the community offers:
Make a point to talk with staff on your visit. After all, you’ll be interacting with them every day once you move. It’s important to get a feel for how employees and leadership — the property manager or executive director — work together.
The cost of independent living is generally influenced by three key elements: location, room size, and services. The average monthly price of a senior apartment at Holiday Retirement – one of the nation’s largest independent living providers – was $2,491 in 2020. However, independent living communities can range anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000 a month.
Price can also fluctuate based on supply and demand and the cost of living in your area. Be sure to create a budget and ask questions to determine potential costs:
You’ll be able to tell a lot about a community at first glance. When touring a senior living community, look for signs that it’s thriving and operating well, Barrett suggests. Some things to look for include:
Ask to sit down and chat with residents, or see if you can join in on an activity. Residents who encourage a move to the community are a great sign!
With the right independent living community, you can ease into a happy, fulfilling, and chore-free lifestyle after your move to senior living. Once you’ve evaluated communities through virtual or in-person tours, Barrett recommends you: