9 Things to Look For in Independent Living Communities

Posted on: August 15th, 2016 by | 1 Comment

You’ve worked hard your entire life. You’ve raised a family. You lead an active lifestyle. But you’re ready to downsize, sell your home, and look at independent living options.

You deserve a beautiful, welcoming, and luxurious retirement home. Cottage Grove Place is the ideal location.

Our gorgeous one-and two-bedroom senior living apartments—located on our 12-acre campus—are close to downtown shopping, dining, and medical facilities. You’ll enjoy all the comforts of home without having to lift a finger. Our friendly staff takes care of everything.

Among our many amenities, you’ll enjoy our comfortable apartments, a Lifeline emergency call system, Wi-Fi, weekly housecleaning and linen service, daily continental breakfast, large walk-in closets, underground parking, fine dining options, and scheduled transportation. You can choose how you wish to spend your time, but we’ve always got something scheduled.

During your search for independent living, make sure you’re comparing accommodations with similar amenities. Consider that you often get what you pay for. For example, you may find a place for less money, but do they offer all the services you need now and in the future?

Once you move in at Cottage Grove Place, you’re guaranteed a lifetime of care. What does that mean? Our LifeCare™ program guarantees we’ll take care of you every step along the way — from active retirement to assisted living to nursing care.

Do other retirement communities promise you that continuity of care? If not, remember that you’ll need to move if your needs ever change. Moving is a stressful proposition, even when you’re healthy. Consider the toll of moving on both you and your family. We think you’ll agree a guarantee of care is the best decision.

As you and your family search for the best retirement community fit for you, we recommend the following nine considerations:

1.Word of Mouth: Walt Disney once said “Do what you do so well, that people can’t resist telling others about you.” We believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. So when you’re getting ready to make a big decision about retirement plans, turn to your friends and family for their help.

You probably already know people who are retired. In addition, you may know adult children who have researched senior living options for their parents. These are great people to consult. Ask them what was most important in their search. Ask them what surprised them the most.

It’s also important to talk to people already residing in independent living. A few questions you can consider:

  • What first attracted you to this community?
  • Describe the staff.
  • Tell me about the residents who live here.
  • What services are provided as part of your fees? Which do you have to pay for?
  • What type of medical services, if any, does your community provide?
  • How much privacy do you have?
  • Do families and grandchildren feel welcome in your senior living building?
  • How does your retirement community celebrate holidays?
  • What do you wish you’d known when you were searching for retirement living?
  • How does independent living differ from owning your own home or apartment?

Make sure you get at least 3-5 referrals for independent living. You want to hear the straight skinny from people who have already done the heavy lifting of searching for the ideal retirement community.

2.Activities: If you’re accustomed to an active lifestyle, you want to be sure that continues well into retirement. When you tour a retirement community, ask the director what types of activities are already offered. Depending on your interests and passions, you may be looking for book clubs, art classes, fine dining, a swimming pool, planned social excursions, dance classes, a pool table, a spa, walking trails, bridge clubs, a gym, computer rooms, libraries, and/or live events.

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If you’d like a quiet and peaceful retirement—one where you can plan your own days and be left to your own devices—you should consider a facility without a lot of activities. Why pay for services you’ll never use?

3.Peers: During your working life, you’ve probably had wonderful neighbors and not-so-wonderful neighbors. Once you move into an independent living facility, you’ll be in much closer proximity to your peers. So you’ll want to make sure you have a good connection with them and feel at home in the community. As you tour, introduce yourself to the people who live there. Get to know some of the folks you meet over coffee or a meal. They can be excellent resources for you.

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Only you can determine a good fit. You’ll need to feel a bond with your future neighbors. These residents may make up the majority of your social circle in the future. If you’ll be living in a college town, for example, are most of the residents former professors? If you’ll be living in your home town, do you know most of the people? Look around. Are most of the residents about your age? Do you share common interests and backgrounds with your peers? Ask questions to make sure you feel at home.

4.Staff: Family and friends are great. But they can’t always be available. That’s why it’s critical your senior living community has an outstanding staff. Don’t be afraid to ask the employees questions during your tour. A few you might consider:

  • What is your staff-to-resident ratio?
  • How many people work overnight and on weekends?
  • Do you employ a registered nurse? If so, what are his or her hours?
  • What is the retention rate for your employees?
  • Do you have a social director?
  • How many people work in housekeeping?
  • If I have maintenance issues, whom do I call?
  • Who administers medications? Is that fee included or do I need to pay extra for that service?
  • What is your security policy?
  • What services can your staff provide?
  • If my family has questions about my care, whom should they contact

5.Size and Location: Independent living communities range in size from very small to quite large. You can find fine facilities in cities, in rural areas, overlooking the ocean, in high rises, and in ground floor living quarters. The size and location are totally subjective. Where do you want to live during retirement?

In terms of location, most retirees choose to live near loved ones, but some people choose warm climates and destination spots and enjoy having their families come visit them.

Size is completely up to you. Perhaps you want a large bustling community where you can meet lots of new people and socialize any time you wish. Or maybe you’d prefer a smaller, more intimate senior living experience where you really get to know everyone. That’s why building tours are so important. More than looking at a website or brochure, you can get a good feel for the size and feel of a place.

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6.Accessibility: In addition to size and location, you must consider how you wish to get from point A to point B. If you’re still driving, you have many more options. Does your facility provide covered parking for your vehicle? Is the space secure? Is there an extra fee for parking your car?

If you don’t wish to drive, does your senior community provide transportation? If yes, how often does it run? Is it included in your living fees? Is the senior living community near a bus or train stop?

While on campus, how will you get around? Are there walking trails or golf carts? Can you ride a bicycle? How far are the buildings from one another?

Think about your needs in the future. If someday you can no longer drive, what transportation options will your senior living community provide to you? If they have a shuttle, is it handicapped-accessible? It’s easy to overlook these issues when you’re able-bodied, but it’s important to think about when considering the entire length of your retirement.

7.Safety: You should never have to worry about your physical safety in your apartment or your retirement home. The best senior living communities have thought about and planned for every eventuality.

They offer locked entrances, provide monitored security cameras, offer handicap accessible hallways and bathrooms and grab bars in showers, provide hand rails in common living areas, and schedule staff to be on site 24/7 every day and night.

Ask to discuss the security features of any retirement community you’re considering. Your physical well being is the most basic requirement. Make sure you feel completely and absolutely safe.

8.Personal Care: If you’re searching for independent living, you’re probably healthy and mobile and agile. However, anyone can fall ill. And we all grow old. So it’s important for your active (current) self to plan for your elderly (future) self. Ask a lot of questions about personal care.

Insurers and healthcare providers often reference activities of daily living (ADL’s). Among the definitions of what makes us independent, include your ability to:

  • Move from one location to another.
  • Bathe and dress yourself.
  • Feed yourself without assistance.
  • Groom and toilet yourself.

If you’re ever unable to do one or more of these activities—either temporarily or permanently—you’ll need to be sure there are nurses and aides on staff who can help you. Ask about the size of each senior living community’s staff. Also be sure to ask if help with ADL’s costs extra (note: most retirement communities charge for these services above and beyond your living fees).

If you someday require more care than that offered in independent living, what other options are available? Does the community have a skilled nursing facility? Is there a memory care living area? As a current resident, are you guaranteed first access to these services? As we mentioned above, with Cottage Grove Place’s LifeCare, you receive a lifetime of care, no matter what your circumstances.

9.Trust Your Instincts: As you go on each tour, actually imagine yourself living at each place. Ask your family members and loved ones to go on tours with you for an extra set of eyes. Just as when you search for a new home, jot down your initial reactions.

What is the atmosphere? How does the environment suit you? Can you see yourself fitting in with the other people who live there? Did residents and staff greet you and make you feel welcome? Most importantly, does it feel like home?

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We hope you’ve found these nine considerations helpful in your search. Leaving a family home or apartment is a big step in life. You want to be sure to do your due diligence about retirement living.

We welcome you to tour our lovely Cottage Grove Place campus. Here, in addition to our lovely independent options, you’ll find assisted living, skilled nursing, rehab, and memory care. We really have thought of everything you’ll ever need. Read why so many people love our community.