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Questions to Ask When Considering Independent Living Retirement Communities.

There is a lot to consider when deciding where you will spend your retirement years. From what you will be paying monthly to whether or not you can bring along your furry friends, it is important to check all the boxes that are the most important to you.

There are many considerations when choosing the right senior living community for you. These questions are organized by topic to help keep you focused.

Here is a List of Essential Questions you’ll want to ask before, during, or after your tours.

Services and Care

  • What is Independent Living, and what does it provide?
  • I think I’m too young for this community; how old do I need to be?
  • What type of care is included in Independent Living?
  • Are there additional costs?
  • What if I need more care than what you provide?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Can my spouse live with me?
  • Can you offer me transportation to doctor appointments and medical centers?
  • What will happen to my residence if I have a long-term stay in a hospital or rehabilitation center?
  • Can I bring my car?

Management and Staff

  • How much experience does the executive director have in senior living?
  • What training and background checks are required of staff before they are hired?
  • How do you accommodate staff member absences?
  • Who do I call if I need maintenance assistance in my residence?
  • What are my options if I need help from a health aide?

Licensing and Regulations

  • How is the community addressing COVID-19 protocols?
  • How are Independent Living communities regulated and licensed?
  • To whom do I voice my concerns, should I ever have any?
  • How many residents do you have? What is the current occupancy?
  • Do you have staff on site 24/7?

Amenities

  • What types of activities are offered in Independent Living?
  • (Social, spiritual, physical, etc.)
  • Do you have a fitness center?
  • Do you have outdoor walking trails?
  • Are off-site trips and activities offered?
  • Do you provide complimentary local transportation?

Costs and Payment

  • What is the monthly fee? How often are there increases?
  • How far in advance will I be notified of a price increase?
  • Is a deposit or community fee required? Is this a one-time fee?
  • Is the deposit refundable?
  • What kind of payment does the community accept?
  • How does the community bill its residents? Does the community generate a paper bill or are electronic payments allowed?

Dining

  • I still want to cook some meals. Can I opt in for only certain meals each day or week?
  • I have dietary restrictions. Can you accommodate my needs?
  • How many dining venues do you offer?
  • Do you have private dining rooms for family events?
  • Does the community serve or allow alcohol?

Decision Making and Moving

  • How do I know whether Independent Living is right for me?
  • When is the best time to move to Independent Living?
  • Is there availability in this community or is there a waiting list?
  • How does one move to Independent Living?
  • Are senior moving companies a good idea?
  • How does your community welcome a new resident?
  • If I’m not happy here, can I leave? How much notice do I need to give, and what is the process?

Insurance and Taxes

  • Are any Independent Living costs tax deductible?
  • Does long-term care insurance pay for Independent Living?
  • I am a Veteran. Can Veterans benefits help me?
  • Does Medicare pay for anything in Independent Living?

Resident Satisfaction and Expectations

  • How does the community maintain security?
  • What role does my family play?
  • How often and when can family visit?
  • How do you track resident satisfaction?
  • Are there rules (like behavioral conditions) residents need to observe? Can the community terminate services if these conditions are not met?

What does Independent Living cost?

One of the top considerations of choosing an Independent Living community is cost. You want to avoid falling in love with a community you or your family cannot afford.

Like buying a home, the general cost of living in a state, region or city will drive retirement living costs. Retiring in Omaha will certainly cost less than retiring in Miami.

Work with a financial planner to get a clear picture of current assets to create a budget. Believe it or not, most people don’t realize there are many ways to pay for retirement living. Take a moment to read our blog post How Can I Cover the Cost of Senior Living?.

Heritage Communities offers Independent Living communities in Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona and Texas.

According to Genworth’s most recent Cost of Care Survey, the average monthly rates for Independent Living in these states are:

  • Texas: $2,225
  • Nebraska: $2,281
  • Iowa: $2,350
  • Arizona: $2,382

When you take tours of Independent Living communities you are interested in, be sure to ask the marketing counselor how their current residents pay for Independent Living. They are on the front lines, so their answers are going to be current and accurate.