Moving to an independent living community is a major life decision. Finding the right place to call home takes time and research. But where do you start?
Independent living amenities and services vary widely. While most communities offer diverse activities, housekeeping services, healthy meals, and transportation, all communities ultimately come with a different price tag, staff, and set of distinct features.
When beginning the process, it’s imperative to reflect on your personal needs, wants, and lifestyle, says Shelane Barrett, national account manager at A Place for Mom.
When considering independent living amenities and services, “make a list of your ‘must haves’ and ‘would like, but can live without,’” says Barrett. “Make sure the community you choose checks the boxes, and doesn’t sacrifice on your ‘must-have’ list.”
Learn more about the most important independent living safety features and amenities to look for, as well as the best questions to ask, and how to find the best long-term fit.
To find the best fit, think about your personal needs as well as your health. For example, if mobility is a problem, a smaller community may be ideal, says Barrett.
Talk with a Senior Living Advisor
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
“Understand your abilities. Sometimes large communities can have long walks to the dining room or fitness center,” she says.
For active and mobile seniors who enjoy cooking, or for those who would like to bring a pet or car, be sure to ask about kitchens in apartments, carports, and pet guidelines.
A community’s ultimate goal is to provide seniors with worry-free and maintenance-free living. In general, you’ll find top independent living features and amenities make life easier, but it’s important to evaluate how you can benefit from each service personally.
If any of these common services are especially important to you, ask communities for details.
The majority of communities create and share a calendar of events and activities for residents on a weekly basis. Find out what activities are available and how often they occur.
Consider the following:
In addition to social activities, ask what kind of amenities are included, such as:
Peace of mind can be found in different ways, but safety is usually at the forefront. Ask staff if they have emergency protocols in place for falls or natural disasters.
Also, consider the building’s safety features. Are individual rooms or communal spaces equipped with technology and different ways to prevent accidents and ensure protection?
Be on the lookout for:
The cost of independent living is generally influenced by three key elements: location, room size, and services. In the U.S., the average cost of independent living is $2,522, according to A Place for Mom’s 2018 Annual Senior Living Cost Index.
The 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:
When touring an independent living community, you’ll be able tell a lot about it at first glance. Look for signs that show the community is thriving and operating well, Barrett suggests, such as:
Don’t forget to chat with staff on your visit. It’s important to get a feel for how staff and leaders — the property manager or executive director — work together.
Take the time to find the right place so you can ease into a happy, fulfilling, and chore-free home. After evaluating several communities in-person or taking virtual tours, Barrett recommends you:
If you have questions about independent living communities, or feel overwhelmed in your search, contact our Senior Living Advisors for advice, information, or assistance at no cost. Open in Editor
Merritt Whitely is an editor at A Place for Mom. She developed health content for seniors at Hearing Charities of America and the National Hearing Aid Project. She’s also managed multiple print publications, blogs, and social media channels for seniors as the marketing manager at Sertoma, Inc.