For most of us, retiring in a luxury villa overlooking the French Riviera isn’t going to happen. It is possible, however, to find an excellent senior lifestyle community that aligns with your values, life stage, budget and within a beautiful setting.
Finding the right place takes time and perseverance. If you are moving from a traditional home to a senior lifestyle community, there will be an adjustment period. The good news is that many seniors improve their quality of life with the additional care, amenities, social interaction and activities now available to them.
1. Know how much you can afford.
For most, post-retirement income is fixed, even as health care costs continue to rise. What you can afford today may not be what you can afford tomorrow. Ask about the cost of independent living versus assisted living or memory support care. Other costs to consider include deposits, and if there are assessment, move-in or other fees. Be very clear on what’s included in the rent: cleaning and laundry services, utilities, wellness programs, transportation, meals and activities.
2. Determine your lifestyle must-haves.
Are there elements that are absolutely vital to your happiness? Do you need a community that accepts pets? How about considerations like a garden, swimming pool & fitness center, great food, and lots of social interaction? Do you love entertaining guests? Want to eat when you want? Make sure the communities you visit have the same priorities you do.
Once you determine your budget and must-haves, start touring as many communities as you can. There are many excellent choices. Ultimately, some communities will feel more like home than others. Bring along a friend or family member for their perspectives, as well as a camera, notepad and pen. During your tours take photos and notes.
4. Pay attention to your first impressions.
Document your first impressions as you compare and contrast different communities. How did it look from the street? Did the neighborhood appear safe? Were the grounds kept up? Were you greeted right away? Did you notice any offensive smells? Are the noise level, lighting, furniture and interior colors pleasing to you?
Evaluate a variety of room styles from independent to assisted living and memory support. Make sure you see real rooms not just model rooms. Consider their cleanliness, layout, colors, lighting, safety features and noise levels. Other things to consider — Is the room too dark, or does the room feel fresh and upbeat? Is there enough room to be comfortable or to entertain? Will the kitchen meet my needs?
6. Ask about safety features.
In exploring accredited senior lifestyle communities, safety and security features must be in place. Features to watch for include handrails in the hallways, smoke detectors, sprinklers and emergency communications systems. Hallways and common areas should be well lit and wheelchair and walker accessible.
7. Watch how the staff interacts with residents.
Observe how the staff treat residents. Are they friendly and? Are they treating residents with respect and humor or with impatience? Don’t be shy about asking residents about their experiences with the staff. In the best of all possible worlds, you’ll hear the staff is friendly, caring and “like family.”
Among the most important aspects of a senior community are the available amenities. Do they measure up? Is the exercise equipment modern, clean and working? Is the dining room pleasant and comfortable? Is there outdoor space to enjoy? Are dog friendly areas well maintained? How do the pool, spa and workout rooms look? Check the activities available, too. Would you enjoy them?
9. Try the food.
The quality of food served is important. Meals should feature fresh, nutritious, ingredients. Are the meals restaurant-style or reminiscent of your grade school cafeteria? What about the dining hours? Are they flexible? Are residents required to eat as a group? Most tours include a meal. If they don’t, ask to look at a menu and to speak with the onsite chef.
10. Trust your instincts.
At the end of the tour, do a gut check. Did you feel anxious? Do you have concerns that were not addressed? Was there something that just didn’t feel right? On the flip side, did the community feel like a place to live well, make friends and receive excellent care? You know what’s right for you.
Cascades of Tucson is a privately-owned retirement community with a variety of options including Active Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care. Stop by anytime – We’d love to give you a tour!