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How To Choose A Retirement Community Or Assisted Living Facility

In a 2012  New Old Age Blog, Paula Span described the outrage felt by residents at an upscale continuing care retirement community (i.e.: type of community that offers different levels of care including independent, assisted, and memory care) when they changed their policy to allow only those who lived in the independent units of the community to dine in the most luxurious dining room.  

Those residing in assisted living were required to dine in their own smaller dining room, and nursing care residents were restricted to dining rooms designated for them. While some residents have hired an elder attorney to protest the new rules, others agree with the changes.

If you're contemplating a move to a retirement community you must do your homework. The first level of  due diligence is making certain that they're fully licensed by the state and knowing how they have performed on their state inspections.  Don't be afraid to ask if they're financially solvent. And of course you want to understand the services they provide, for both medical care and in the general assistance of daily activities of living.

But Span's blogpost illustrates the need a second level of investigation that explains just how daily life works within the community. Most retirement communities have policies in place and if you want to avoid one of those “wish I knew then what I know now” moments you should think about what's important to you, and come prepared with a comprehensive list of questions. Understanding the ambience of the community can make the difference between the community being a great fit, or just tolerable. You cannot ask too many questions. 

Some of these "second-level" considerations may be: 

  • Do independent and assisted-living residents dine and reside together, or in different structures?
  • Is there a cafe in the community where one can dine outside of meal times for snacks or tea?
  • Is there a library or a card room where you can relax outside of your own apartment?
  • Are there daily exercise classes?
  • Is there a shuttle bus that will drop me off to do errands, take me to a medical appointment or classes at a nearby College or University?

These are just few of the many issues to think about when researching retirement communities. We will be posting more on this topic in upcoming blogs.

In the meantime, however, please email us any questions you may have about this often, overwhelming topic.