A Comprehensive Guide to Evaluating Independent Living Communities

March 21, 2022  |  By Brandon Schleeter  |  Active Senior Living

To many seniors, retirement means one thing — freedom! After decades of catering to a career, homemaking, and child rearing, it’s time for seniors to spread their wings and do what they want when they want. 

One of the best ways to embrace retirement is in a senior independent living community, where, almost like a resort, seniors get their turn to be catered to in a welcoming and secure environment. Independent living is perfect for active, healthy adults who want a home of their own, but with minimal upkeep and amenities close by. Independent living is a lifestyle choice that provides both a sense of community and the freedom to pursue that long-planned bucket list with peace of mind. 

Key considerations when looking for an independent living community

Before you choose an independent community, here are tips for what to look for in a senior independent living community.

Location and availability

Whether staying within a town or city or choosing to move to another city or state, location is key to happiness. Look for communities that are in the area desired and within a reasonable distance to, family, shopping, entertainment, church or temple, doctors and dentists, and for travelers, airports. Also check the crime rate in the area. This can be done by address or zip code on the ADT Crime Maps website, or by address on Trulia.com.

Due to the growing popularity of independent living communities, it’s important to check availability at those that meet location requirements. Some popular communities may have waiting lists, which is also a good sign that the community is desirable. Getting on a waiting list may require a deposit so be sure to ask about deposit refund policies in the event another community offers availability sooner or another contingency arises.

Housing options

Moving from a family home to independent living usually means a little less living space, but the options vary by community and region. Among the many possibilities are fully-appointed:

  • Apartments (studio, one-bedroom suite, two-bedroom suite, or larger). 

  • Detached patio homes or condominiums.

  • Detached villas or duplex villas. 

  • Townhomes or cottages.

For those who will continue to own a vehicle, garages are often available as well. These homes offer full kitchens, baths, and often washers and dryers. It’s also important to note that many communities allow seniors to bring their own furniture and other possessions, to make their new house their home.

Also check on the availability of security systems, the level(s) of maintenance provided, lawn care, and proximity to community amenities like a clubhouse, exercise and wellness rooms, pool, restaurants and dining, and social activities. 

Available amenities

One of the greatest assets of independent living is the attention given to helping seniors live a healthy life and enjoy a lifestyle that makes this almost effortless. For that reason, amenities that are good for both mind and body should be considered in the decision-making process. 

For example, the best communities offer diverse dining options such as:

  • A full-service restaurant where breakfast is available all-day and residents can choose from a menu of 50+ always-available options in addition to daily chef specials.

  • A bistro where residents may enjoy 24-hour grab-and-go snacks, drinks, as well as quick service from the restaurant. 

  • A private dining room available for special gatherings of family and friends.

  • A café area with coffee, grab-and-go snacks, and even live cooking demonstrations and special events.

Take a look at our sample menu for what to expect!

Feeling at home also means having spaces dedicated to specific activities and events. Among these are a:

  • Library.

  • Theater.

  • Crafts room.

  • Wellness center that may include exercise equipment appropriate for older adults.

  • Lounges with couches, chairs, and televisions for relaxing with friends.

  • Outdoor areas to enjoy like patios, porches, walking paths, and garden areas.

Similarly, service amenities should also be listed to ensure the community provides everything a senior wants and needs. These may include:

  • Hair and nail salon and barbershop.

  • Swimming pool

  • Luxury transportation for personal appointments and for scheduled outings like shopping trips and local activities and events.

  • A Resident Services Director who leads a schedule of events and entertainment and coordinates resident concierge services.

Diverse event and entertainment options, inside and outside of the community. For example:

  • Skydiving.

  • Touring a brewery or winery.

  • Local museums.

  • Golfing outings.

  • Ladies’ clubs and teas.

  • Men’s breakfasts, veteran’s groups, and social hours.

  • Weekly happy hour with live entertainment.

  • Five-course candlelight dinners.

For more about what Arrow Senior Living offers, check out our Resident Services.

The Continuing Care Option

Many active healthy older adults work hard to stay that way, but it’s always best to plan ahead for a time when more care is needed. Since no one has a crystal ball, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is exactly what many seniors have found to be the perfect solution. 

CCRCs are a hybrid of multiple levels of care spanning independent living, to assisted living to memory care. These communities allow residents to move in at one level of care, for example, independent living, and receive additional levels of care as they age and needs change. Often called “aging in place,” seniors can remain within the same community with friends they know and continue to enjoy all the amenities but with an increased level of care. 

Some CCRCs charge high fees for entry — from several thousand up to a million dollars — that may or may not be refunded (all or in part) if the resident moves or passes on. Arrow Senior Living does not require these large entry fees. More about CCRCs can be found in the AARP article, “How Continuing Care Retirement Communities Work.” Once a list of possible independent living communities is prepared, it’s time to tour the communities most likely to fit a senior’s needs and lifestyle. At Arrow Senior Living we welcome seniors and their families and friends to tour our communities and learn more about what we have to offer even the most discerning seniors. Contact us today to learn more or visit our website to find a community near you.

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