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With tens of thousands of senior living options and retirement communities throughout the United States, the mere thought of having to choose one can easily become overwhelming. There are not only different categories of communities, but also many unique services, amenities, housing types, cultures, and environments that differ from one community to another. No two people are exactly the same, and the same is true of senior living options. To get a perfect fit — a community that’ll complement your senior lifestyle just right — you’ll likely want to do a large amount of research.

While it may sound overwhelming at first, the path to making an informed decision is surprisingly simple. At a base level, you’ll need to be aware of the type of community you should live in, whether that’s independent living, assisted living or. a nursing home. This is potentially the most difficult part of the process: honestly assessing your physical and mental care requirements. After this first step, however, the rest is a matter of personal preference and affordability.

If you’re looking for a good idea of what you should ask both yourself and your prospective retirement community, the following will provide an overview of the most important questions to ask and necessary information to gather.


How to Choose a Senior Living Community

Independent living retirement communities serve many types of seniors, ranging from those with a completely independent lifestyle to those who require round-the-clock care. For many people, choosing senior housing means setting themselves up for a safer future.

When comparing independent living versus assisted living, the former is for seniors who do not require any assistance with day-to-day tasks. The latter is for seniors who may need help with tasks like eating, bathing, getting dressed, taking medication, and other personal needs. Beyond these categories are specialized facilities like nursing homes and memory care facilities, which each provide 24/7 medical care to seniors with severe physical or cognitive decline.

Instead of paying an additional flat fee for a suite of assisted living services, seniors in independent living communities can hire outside providers for daily assistance. For example, if you only have difficulties sorting your medications, you can hire a provider to help you. This approach can help cut the increased costs associated with independent senior living.


Consider Physical Abilities

Viewing an independent living skills checklist can help you determine what degree of assistance is needed, if any. A few things you should answer honestly include:

  • Can you complete personal hygiene tasks, such as bathing, brushing teeth, shaving?

  • Can you get in and out of bed, chairs, the shower or bathtub, and vehicles?

  • Can you adequately feed yourself?

  • Can you take medications at the correct time and dosage?

  • Can you dress yourself?

  • Can you control continence?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you will likely need assisted living services to some degree. If you are fully independent, it is still important to understand the potential health care needs you may have in the future.


Consider Personal Preferences

After determining which level of care you’ll need, the next step is to consider your personal preferences regarding a retirement community. In most communities, you’ll be able to choose from senior independent living apartment apartments or cottages. The rest of the amenities, resources, and services available can vary widely from one community to the next. To find one that adequately suits both your wants and needs, there are a few things to consider:

  • How big of a home do you want, and what kind of layout?

  • Do you want to have a pet live with you?

  • Will you want to have visitors over often?

  • How physically active do you want to be?

  • How much do you want to socialize?

  • Do you want to have a lot of new and different things to try?

  • Do you want to remain close to where you live now or move farther away?

  • Do you want to be able to cook your own food?

  • Do you want to have nearby access to restaurants, shopping locations, and parks?

Some communities may cater more toward active lifestyles, while others may provide many amenities to make day-to-day life more enjoyable. Each of our locations creates a senior activities calendar each month that allows residents to try new things, make new friends, and join groups and clubs. Regardless of the community you choose, there will be plenty of opportunities to be social, enjoy quiet reflection, explore hobbies, and live a stress-free life.


Consider Cost of Senior Living

The cost of a retirement community doesn’t just cover your housing payment. It pays for your food, transportation, cleaning, maintenance, leisure, security, pharmacy services, and essentially everything else you can imagine. Independent senior living costs are around $2,800 per month, while assisted living costs are around $4,000 per month. Given the money saved on food, the hours saved on housework and chores, the costs of owning and operating a vehicle, and the peace of mind that 24/7 security provides, these monthly costs are often less than what it costs to continue living at home.

However, it’s still important to consider how you would pay. Some good questions to ask include:

  • How much can you afford to pay each month?

  • How much extra would you like to have left over each month?

  • Will you pay through insurance, home equity, Social Security, out-of-pocket savings, or a mixture?

  • Will you be able to afford assisted care if my health declines?

By knowing the answers to these questions, you will be better prepared for finding affordable senior housing options.

Questions to Ask a Senior Living Community

After determining your physical abilities, personal wants and needs, and how much you can afford, it’s time to narrow down the many possibilities available to you. A simple internet search can show you which retirement communities are in your desired location. After finding one you may be interested in, you can typically call to find out more about the community or even schedule an in-person or virtual tour of the community.


Some good questions to ask during your conversation include:


  • What home safety measures do you provide?

  • How much are monthly costs, and what is included in them?

  • What kinds of meals do you serve?

  • What kinds of housing units can I choose from?

  • What amenities, services, and resources does your community offer?

  • What is the community’s culture like?

  • What is the average age of residents within the community?

  • What types of attractions are nearby, such as restaurants, stores, and parks?

  • What activities, groups, and clubs can I participate in?

  • Can I own pets?

  • How often can I have visitors?

  • What will happen if my health declines?

The answers to these questions can help provide you a better idea of what the community is like and the types of things you’ll be able to do in your day-to-day life. After contacting a few different locations, you can begin to weigh the benefits of each to make a well-informed decision.


Independent Senior Living Communities Near Me

The easiest way to find an all-inclusive senior living community in your desired location is to use our helpful community locator tool. Simply enter the city you wish to live in, view the available options, read about their services and amenities, and make a call. A representative will be able to tell you more about the location, answer any questions you may have, and help you find the perfect time to take a tour of the community.


You can always contact a Holiday Retirement representative to learn general information or get connected to a retirement community in your area. We’re happy to help you begin the transition to your new senior lifestyle!

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